The Reluctant Artist
--Part 2--

by Steve Pope
with an introduction by Alain Briot

Other essays in this series

Sparks Lane

In Part 1 of The Reluctant Artist, Steve introduced us to the challenges he faces along his photographic Journey. Now, in Part 2 of this essay, Steve continues his narration by outlining new challenges. As with Part 1, these are challenges that many artist's face and that many of us can relate to.

Alain Briot

The Reluctant Artist--Part 2-- by Steve Pope
As Alain has so graciously posted my first essay on being a Reluctant Artist, I thought it fitting that I should continue on the theme of persevering through difficulties, something we all face in our growth as artists.

Rejection.  One word that has haunted artists throughout the millennia.  It hurts, even if we use it as we should, to spur us on to better efforts. The more we put of ourselves into an image, a work of our heart, so to speak, the worse the pain at rejection of that piece.  We have all experienced it, and as visual artists, the feedback we get is nearly instantaneous.  I suppose if I was a poet and someone rejected my work, I could say that they needed to read it again and again until they "understood."  However, most painters and photographers create works that are straightforward, with any subtleties in the details, or composition, or tonalities.

Rejection can be discouraging, too.  Interesting word, "discouraging" in that it combines "dis" which is always a negative with "courage" which is exactly what we must utilize to put our efforts in the public arena in the first place.  It takes guts to display our work.  (dis-courage: to take away courage)

As much as we say to ourselves, and perhaps others, "It doesn't matter if they like it or not, I like it", this is just a shibboleth, a small falsehood.  It DOES matter, why else would we want to exhibit our images?

Smokies Sunbeams

How should we face it, then?  This is only my opinion, and I'm sure there are other valid reasons you may have instead.  Perseverance is good for us.   President Calvin Coolidge wrote of the virtue of perseverance in that all the talent, skill, genius and effort in the world was useless if we did not have perseverance to back it up.  I often listen to the podcasts of Craig Tanner, an excellent photographer who hosts the Radiant Vista website and have read of his struggles starting out as a professional photographer. Alain's story is equally riveting.  

We are not all natural-born artists.  Ernst Haas is the closest I know of, but he worked hard to both perfect his black and white work and even harder to work with and promote color photography as a valid and appreciated art form.  I strongly recommend his book "Creation" for inspiration and enjoyment.

Cades Horses

Where do we go from here? Only forward.  I am neither where I want to be as an artist, nor as a person. And don't even get me going on how far I am not as a marketer or businessman.  Do I fail to meet my goals?  Yes daily, but at least I have set some, and I encourage you to set goals as well.  We can only gauge how far we have come if we have made goals and accomplished them along the way. I can look at my own work and see how far I have come. Yes, I do literally cringe at some of the images I sent Alain for my first print review, but I do not cringe anymore.  Not that all my work is remarkable or exceptional, far be it from that.  But I do see vast improvement and I can look forward to learning more and more from Alain and others, and hopefully someday I will produce images from my heart which will be accepted by many and not rejected. Now that would be truly remarkable indeed.

Now, if only I could print them so they look as good on paper as they do on the monitor.....

Steve Pope
June 2008

Essay and photographs Copyright © Steve Pope 2008. Introduction © Alain Briot 2008
All rights reserved worldwide