Rolling hills and mountains create a cool respite from the Florida heat. Tucked in a mountainside wilderness the pace slows down a little. Time is made to listen, think, feel, and heal.  Rejection is part of life. Rarely is this truer than for the creative. Our works are on constant display and therefore we open ourselves up to receive the thoughts of others. While feedback is crucial to honing our skills, it is not always easy to accept. It is a breath of fulfillment to hear thoughtful and affirming feedback, but can be a test of character to field the harsh word, flippantly given. As much as we might like to deny it, all of it affects our sensitive souls.

Over the years, I have benefited by the opportunity to receive wise counsel and mentor-ship. The biggest truths I have had to learn were to consider the source of unsolicited advice and to know who I want to reach with my art.  Most of what a person perceives in a work of art is a reflection of their own inner thoughts.  A person’s experience, perspective and personality always color the way they process information as illustrated by the Rorschach ink blot test. The ink blot test takes a random smudge of ink and asks for interpretation; what do you see? The answers piece together information about the audience and not the creator of the ink smudge, his intention, or the level of expertise. It has nothing to do with the creator!

While I believe that art is for everyone, not everyone will like what I create and that is okay. It can be a struggle as everyone, on some level, desires acceptance. Rejection is never fun. Standing tall and remaining confident is an accomplishment in itself. It is important to understand the purpose of my work is to uplift, inspire and encourage. That means I am not called to reach people who seek political depictions, or dark, tortured art. Instead, my strengths are revealed when I choose to focus on reaching those who need what I have to offer: art that makes you smile.

I don’t always hit the mark, but it has been invaluable in learning which rebukes to shake off and which to heed. When the rebuke comes from someone I consider to have wisdom, experience and education that exceed mine, it gives me pause for consideration and elevation. Iron sharpens iron, and so one man sharpens another.  The wise are discerning.