Handling criticism as an artist...

The awkward part about selling artwork is that it is literally like selling a page out of your personal diary. Recently, I was reminded how sensitive it is for an artist to give up a painting (that truly means so much to them) to an absolute stranger. I remember my first official show in my senior year of college at Wolfarth Gallery in Brookland NE, DC like it was yesterday. Many people came out to see the group show and talked about how much they liked, loved, hated or disliked each piece of work hanging. (Luckily, as I was 20 and the low man on the totem pole at the gallery, my work was placed in a doorway with less viewers...haha!). But, what really struck me that night was how vulnerable I felt just standing there listening to criticism (albeit positive or negative) about something so personal.

I have a couple of paintings that I won't sell. Ever! And the reason for this is that as I sell some that mean a lot and some others based solely on commission for someone who asks for a custom work, my "old standbys" stay with me and define me as an artist.

The first represents the beginning of my style and represents the first painting class that rocked my little world in college. It's called a "system painting" and our task from my amazing professor was to invent our own style of painting, not imitated from another. Hours and hours were spent working in the painting studio on this guy, but this was truly a defining moment in my early career.

The second represents my personality best - warm, friendly, bright and a little crazy! It was a painting that frustrated me so much that it, at one point, sat in my parents back yard through a rainstorm, was walked on by the neighbor's cat, and was nearly ruined until I decided to try a little harder and make it beautiful. And now I will love it forever.

The rest, I love too. But you can buy them, I guess. Just be gentle with them, I put my heart and soul into them.