I'm often asked how I can share my work publicly, whether online or in exhibits or via sales. It hasn't always been easy. There is always the fear of rejection when submitting proposals, and once they're accepted, rejection from the general public. Especially since a good year or two of hard work goes into the creation of a body of paintings - a lot of life and emotion is committed to the canvas. But I love to paint, I have tried not to do it but it was to my detriment, and so I paint a lot. I can only store so much work in my house before I become claustrophobic (anyone who knows me knows how anal I am about too much stuff - even stuff I love).
Plus, I dreamt about being a professional artist for as long as I can remember. Not about the exhibiting part but about the making part. I was an extremely introverted child and found my joy in creation. And it excites me when others fall in love with my work, too. Thankfully I keep creating whether or not I have an exhibit ahead of me, but it certainly is easier to stay focused and committed when I have things to work towards.
I have always been afraid of the judgement, of being accused of replicating someone else's work or of being a terrible artist. But I've found that it really doesn't matter what I do, as long as it comes from a deep part of myself, from my own experiences and using the skills I have been gifted with over time. In the past I took critiques from other artists or gallerists too closely, believing that they knew better than I and yet as I keep working how I feel led to work, things get better and I feel the most connected to what I do.
Learning to let go and allow others to connect to my work however they do is a wonderful thing. I know that my form of expression won't always be understood by others but I also know that that's okay. And, in spite of my fears, the most rewarding part of exhibiting and sharing my work is the positive feedback I receive. And, boy, when my work finds a new home, that is the most incredible feeling. It's definitely worth overcoming the fear and taking that leap of faith.