Sunday, January 06, 2008

You Want a Piece of Me? -- Eve

I don’t know how other artists feel, but for me every story I write or picture I paint is a piece of me. Like a chunk of my flesh is slapped onto a canvas or piece of paper and hung on the wall for all the world to see. And judge.

Though I’m pretty silly most of the time, I take my art and writing very seriously. On the surface my paintings are fairly lighthearted, but each one reflects a mood or experience that I couldn’t quite shake. I can look at each one (of the hundred or so that lurk in my closets) and recall where I was, how I was feeling, and what life decisions, memories, and dilemmas my brain was processing when it was created. It’s a part of me. Like a limb or organ. During my first art show, a few years back, someone wrote in my guestbook, “I don’t like all the colors at once. It’s just way too much.” I went through the stages of grief: anger, defensiveness, insecurity, sadness, acceptance (that I’m a total no-good hack who should never wield a paintbrush again).

I know we’ve used the baby metaphor to death, but it’s so appropriate for us book writers. Prior to conception, there’s a lot of planning and confronting doubts and fears. When we’re deep into the pregnancy period of creating our books, we live, eat, and breathe our stories. After birth, when the books are delivered to our editors, the real nurturing ensues. But, even after our offspring leave the nest and settle into bookshelves around the world, we worry about them constantly. And it pains us to the core when they are misunderstood or people speak ill of them.

So, I cannot even imagine how difficult it will be to read reviews of my novel once it is published. Even a tepid review will probably feel like my kid’s first grade teacher is telling me that my beautiful, brilliant child is not as good or smart as my delusions led me to believe. It’s such a bizarre thing that we artists place our hearts and souls on display, and hope people don’t tear them apart. Maybe facing the criticism gets easier with time. Like, we reach a point where we swim in confidence and shun those who don’t understand us.

Or maybe we just learn to focus on the positive. Like, tonight, I flipped through that old guestbook from my art show and noticed that on the last page somebody wrote, “You have really nice legs!” And I felt much better about myself.

Take that, man who hates lots of colors! How you like me now?

- Eve


Disco Mermaids said...

Bad reviews, whether for a painting or a book, are always going to be hard to take...especially when the comment or review mentions something you obviously did intentionally (as you mentioned in your post).

The best way I've found to deal with those comments is to realize that they were left by ridiculously stupid people.

Problem solved!

- Jay

P.S. I'm glad you finally found my entry in your guestbook.

Disco Mermaids said...

So YOU'RE the man who hates lots of colors! I always wondered who it was, as he didn't leave a name. Coward.

Oh! You mean you left the "nice legs" comment?? Awe...Thanks, Jay. Love you, mean it!


Disco Mermaids said...

Let's leave lots of comments to each other on my post so it looks as if I have tons of fans commenting!


cynjay said...

Totally hot, adorable, and by the looks of the paintbrush, amazingly talented.

Eve looks pretty good too!

laurasalas said...

Aw man, you're a writer *and* a talented illustrator? I hate people like you. OK, not really. But I am insanely jealous of people like you. I want to be multi-talented, too.

Anyway, I try to keep in mind the whole different strokes for different folks thing. Someone else is going to look at other paintings and say, "Too drab." Then he'll look at the joy and colors in yours and say, "Now, here's someone who knows how to capture life! How much does this painting cost?"

Anonymous said...

Eve, I think we should lock that individual who hates color in my hunter green office, or maybe the periwinkle blue bedroom. Better yet, I have several bolts of fluorescent orange, yellow, pink, and green fabric sitting in my office right now.

Let’s make him a colorful turban and cinch it at the neck . . . tightly.

Love your painting!

Kimberly Lynn

Colorado Writer said...

The creative pursuits are subjective to the tastes of the audience.

Example: I LOVE STOMP! But to someone else, it might be a lot of noise.

Also, a big white ashtray the size of a hot tub was on display at our art museum. ART? I'm not sure.

I think the painting behind you in the photo is wonderful. The legs aren't bad either.

Anonymous said...

Yes, opinions are subjective. The difference here is someone made a negative comment about Eve’s work in HER guestbook – something that she wanted to keep as a memento. I think a guestbook is a place for guests to sign, not give a critique.

Kimberly Lynn

Disco Mermaids said...

Cynjay- you can always make me laugh.

Laura and CW- You're so right. Art is soooo subjective. It still hurts, though, when somebody disses our stuff. It's like they're attacking my soul, man! And, uh, giant ashtray? Puh-leeze.

Funny thing, Laura, is that I did sell a ton of paintings during that art show. So, someone out there likes color.

Kimberly L- you're my kind of girl. Love bright colors! Which is probably why most of my outfits look like I jacked them from Vegas showgirls. Tacky? Or artistic? If it were up to me, I'd paint my entire house shocking pink. Hate those homeowners associations!


Anonymous said...

I soooooo know who wrote the "nice legs" comment - the person was very reluctant to write it, but I encouraged him/her and I'm glad to see it's still having a positive effect a few years later. On the other hand, I'd like to wring the neck of the person who wrote the mean comment. My sisterly protective instincts just kicked in. Maybe we need a handwriting analysis to figure out who it was and then start sending lots of multi-colorful things to him/her. Just a thought.


Freedom Star said...

So I'm sitting here trying to think up something incredibly witty or meaningful, and it's just not coming to me. So here it is in simple terms:

Some people find it easier to comment on the one negative instead of the many different positives. To people like that (who think of the glass half empty instead of half full), I say "Go tell it to someone who cares." I think your painting is fab.

Sweet dreams :)


Dough said...

ARE YOU TALKING TO ME? I had a very proud moment today because I stumbled onto this blog and found out that a dear friend has found passion and happiness in her life through her art. Who woulda thought?

Many years ago I met a young woman who had aspirations of saving lives through medicine who ended up making people laugh and smile through art. I only wish I could be there in person to see it all.

As an artist you should never take crticism of your art personaly. Success is not how quickly your art sells, it's about how YOU feel about your work. Forget the others. You like colors, go for it. By the way, where can an old fool find your artwork? We love yah man, mean it!

Anonymous said...

You showed my favorite painting of yours! Someday I will have one. :-P