Friday, June 21, 2013

Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh My!

by Kate Dardine

In the movie, The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow are walking through the spooky forest when they are stopped in their tracks by a loud roar. They are terribly frightened, and imagining the worst, they quicken their pace to put some distance between themselves and the imagined danger.

How many times in your life have you done the very same thing: imagined the worst and run away before taking the time to face your fears? How many times did your big fear turn out to be no more threatening than the cowardly lion himself?

For many of us, the fear of rejection has us running from situations that might actually be beneficial. As an artist, my work is very personal; I put my heart and soul into each piece. When I look at one of my paintings, I know what my emotional state was at the time I created it. Showing my work can leave me feeling vulnerable – and so maybe I decide not to risk seeking gallery representation, entering a show or even showing my work to anyone at all. The fear of being rejected roars from the shadows, convincing me that the risk is too BIG and SCARY. 

But what if I confronted that fear? Stopped and looked it in the eye? What is the worst that could happen? The gallerist may decide that my work is not a good fit. OK, there are other galleries. I might not get accepted into the show. OK, there are other shows. Someone may say they don’t like the painting. OK, not everyone is going to like everything. Those are risks I can live with, and the benefits  - being represented by a gallery, getting into to the show and maybe winning an award, having someone deeply connect with my work – are worth the momentary pang of self-doubt that we all feel when moving outside our comfort zone.

In order to market their work, artists need to spend a certain amount of time outside the safety of their studio. There are opening receptions, awards ceremonies, gallery walks, auctions and banquets that we must attend. In my case, I usually go by myself. I used to fear going alone – I felt that I needed another body there, someone to talk to… a security blanket to shield me from the uncomfortable task of seeking out new people. Leaving my “blanket” behind and attending functions solo was very scary. The first time I could barely get myself out of the car! It took awhile, but I found the courage to walk up to people and introduce myself. And just like most fears, the imagined part was much worse than the actuality.

 Although I am not by nature an extrovert, I can smile and be friendly. I can introduce myself and ask “Is this your first time in the gallery?” or, “How are you connected to this organization?”  I have yet to have anyone refuse to speak to me or laugh at me or make me feel stupid. I have yet to pass out or say something incredibly stupid (at least no one has been rude enough to tell me!) However, I have met lots of wonderful people, some of whom have ended up buying paintings from me, some of whom have been good connections and some of whom have become friends. Now the big scary monster I feared has been reduced to a few fluttering butterflies in my stomach.

Next time you start convincing yourself not to do something because it is outside your comfort zone, look your fear in the eye and do it anyway. Just like the Mighty Oz, your fear may turn out to be no more than a frightened little man hiding behind a curtain. And you will discover, like the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Lion, you have lots of Heart, you’re Smart, and you’ve got Courage to spare! But you’ll never find out if you don’t try.

Kate Dardine is a professional artist and the marketing director for Fine Print Imaging and Colorado Frames. You can see her work at