Author Ellen J. Langer in her book On Becoming An Artist spends numerous pages on what she terms the tyranny of evaluation. She offers us an Andrew Wyeth quotation: “When you show it to someone, if they like it, you are stopped, and if they dislike it you are stopped either way.”
As artists we know this game too well. We have been told and know it at least in theory that getting into an exhibition is just one juror’s opinion on a given day. Still, it is difficult. And if you hit a dry spell, you may well begin to think you lack talent. If you receive mostly good comments, you are afraid to change, to try something different, and whatever abilities you may have languish. Thus, the power of a yes may be as strong as the power of a no.
Langer says the solution lies in paying attention—to the world around us, to ideas and where they may lead us.