The Aftermath – Paula

How does an artist determine success?   Sales? Critical acclaim?  Or is it something deeper.

Americans are taught to believe that success is measured in monetary terms.  If finance is the scale by which we measure, my exhibit was not a great success.  I sold a painting during the show and one before the exhibit opened.  A disappointment surely, but much better than not selling.

I received a fair amount of media coverage.  There was a nice mention in the Providence Journal with a photograph of one of my favorite paintings, Summer Shadows.  There was a wonderful quote in the Providence Business News – they called my paintings psychotropic – a word never before used to describe my work.  I also had coverage in the RISD XYZ alumni online news and lots of great feedback from friends and colleagues.

Weeds in Snow at the Bert Gallery

Weeds in Snow at the Bert Gallery

And yet, the aftermath of an exhibit is always a letdown, a depression seeking missile that follows me around for weeks.   Until I come up for air, breathe deeply and realize I am proud of my paintings.  I spent 4 years making those paintings and each and everyone represents a part of me.  I paint for myself, as so many others do.  If I never achieve painting stardom, so be it.

When I am in my studio in front of my paintings, I am both content and challenged, happy and energized.  I work for myself and I work to make both myself and my paintings better.  If at the end of the day, things are indeed better, then I have succeeded.


  1. Paula… so well-said. Your truth and honesty about these feelings as an artist hit the nail on the head for so many of us. It’s so exciting to have a show; it’s on view for a few weeks, some people see the work, they like it, there is a little bit of press, then it comes down, you wrap up the paintings and take them back to the studio. But when all is said and done, what you say in your last paragraph sums it all up, and beautifully.


  2. Paula and Karen …
    Both of your words resonated in me. I, too, have a show up currently and was disappointed at the lack-luster attendance despite the pre-show announcements. And yet, those that did come were impressed and had wonderful things to say about my varied works. When people tell me how much they like my work I often swallow that I, too, love what I do, not wanting to seem arrogant. But I do. That, as you’ve both pointed out is why we do what we do, for us, first.

    A dear friend that was in attendance emailed me after the show and had this to say:
    “I know for myself that I see something new and exciting each time I view your work. The detail, the colors, the subjects, etc., all inspire me to look with new eyes at the world around me and to take the risk to allow my creativity to surface! I am convinced that the story you tell about discovering the artist within gives people pause to consider, ‘Well, maybe I can try my hand at ……(whatever it is they choose!)’.”

    What more can I ask than to be an inspiration to someone else to see the world differently and for the better!

    May our creativity carry us forward for a long time to come.
    Creatively yours,
    Carol A. Watson

    Liked by 1 person

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