Reborn: A Conversation With Renata

Republished from Aug. 6, 2013

Being reborn is painful. It seems that the process needs follow a certain course from catastrophe to searching and, finally, to the new being. There are probably other stages in the process, between those mentioned (similar to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross' five stages of grief), and the final rebirth is itself an ongoing process, ever reaching out until another life altering event sends us searching again.

This following is from a conversation I had with an artist (I'll call her Renata--meaning reborn) that began as a comment/question of hers on Facebook. What on the surface appears to be an attempt by myself to find the true meaning in her words was, in reality, my own personal searching out for what I truly believe. I'll leave it to Renata to say what it was for her.

The overriding theme to our conversation seems to be this: it's difficult to separate one's feelings from what may, or may not, be reality. In other words, because I see a painful event as negative doesn't necessarily mean that it is.

Part 1 of 3

Renata The major gallery that carried my work suddenly closed it's doors. I now have a garage full of paintings and frames and I'm wondering what to do next. I don't feel like painting right now even though I have a nice one on my easel. Is this feeling normal? Your comments would be very appreciated.

MT Did that gallery define who you are? Is this a negative thing--the gallery closing? I think that is for you to decide. How do you see it, I think that's the key.

Renata MT, no, the gallery did not define who I am, absolutely not! It is neither negative nor positive that the gallery closed; it came more as a shock. I don't think any of us like to get 'blind-sided' but it happens, and so it is. And it hurt, yes. However, I will say that I gained a lot from being there and I met and created some truly wonderful relationships that, hopefully, will last a long time. And, it is time to move on; I am ready to do so.

MT I hope I didn't come across as callous or insensitive; I don't make light of your feelings. It is just becoming very apparent to me (and I have to work hard on this because I'm quite the feeling person myself) the absolute power we hold to decide, how we react/act, how we see life, even how we feel. Things happen but, not to us I think. The gallery closing didn't happen to you, it happened for you. What if there is meaning in it for you, and therefore opportunity.

Renata I get what you said, and it was important what you said. It is too easy to sit back and feel all comfy when it is good, but when things change we can, and often do, react badly. Believe it or not, I knew this was coming because the signs were all there. However, I didn't know it was coming so quickly! I was making a slow deliberation towards another gallery, but I haven't gotten the work done for them to see yet. I thought I would have until the end of this year, but it wasn't to be.

Birth of Christ by Paul GauguinThe other aspect of this is that I believe you that there is another opportunity in it somewhere and something will come out of all this. This does indeed, force me to have to make a decision as to the direction I want to move in. The problem is, I have no idea! The gallery I was in took everything I did and loved it all. I have changed subject matter and my personal style keeps evolving so quickly (it has been the last two years), that I don't even know myself what I want to do. I kind of want to do everything, or at least, give everything a chance. And I don't feel I want any pressure right now to produce anything for deadlines.

I spent the last 7 years painting year 'round, through summers, holidays, etc. because I had at least two shows a year with that gallery--4 solo shows in the last 5 years along with several group shows--all with them. It was a lot of work! Perhaps I sat too comfortably there for too long, and I think you are right, what if it is an opportunity? I believe I can rise to meet it, but not just yet. I need some time to explore for a few months, more of what I want to do, not just what the gallery wanted. So all in all, it is already giving me opportunity to discover the time I need to be more of 'me' and less of what others want.

MT It sounds like you are already benefiting from this event. Maybe what you were is not who you are. It's so easy to pigeonhole oneself into a certain way for a myriad of reasons that the true identity, which I agree is ever changing, gets buried underneath. Two quotes from successful folks (I collect quotes) "Winning means being unafraid to lose" and "If you're not being rejected, you're not trying hard enough". I think you can apply these to artistic endeavors as easily as to anything else. Did you stay in the gallery because you were afraid to try something different, for whatever reason--financial, artistic, personal. It's very, very difficult for a sensitive, feeling artist to free themselves to go beyond the proverbial comfort zone in the face of criticism or rejection, even if they come from ourselves. It takes guts to even recognize that you are afraid to begin with. But maybe you feel you were where you belonged. Everyone is different and contentment is not a bad thing at all. It's like trying to say what normal is for everybody. Happiness and fulfillment are different for each of us. I think you are asking yourself good questions, "what do I want", what is fulfillment for me", "what is happiness?"

I'm speculating but it sounds like you are quite driven--all the work you did with this gallery. But especially with opportunity, your "I believe I can rise to meet it", you sound as if you are putting opportunity up on a high ledge and you must climb a tall, tall ladder to reach it. I'm not sure this is true. Opportunity is your friend, your close friend. Of course one must work, but I would hope and believe that opportunity is more like a bicycle, it carries me along while I pedal, while I do the work. It's always there, ready to support me whenever I decide to do the work.

It also sounds like you are taking a breath finally after however many months of pushing. I think this a good thing, for your art, your sanity, your health. Your "I kind of want to do everything, or at least, give 'everything' a chance" reminds me of my grandkids Jackjack and Philip. I don't mean this in a negative way in the least, it just sounds like you are being reborn, you're new to this world again and ready to discover, just like them--everything is new and exciting. How can that possibly be bad?

Read Part 2 / Part 3

MT McClanahan

An artist and perpetual thinker, MT McClanahan finds inspiration through connecting ideas across a broad range of topics. He especially enjoys philosophy and how art and life interconnect. He is the founder of TPT and his paintings can be seen at

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5 Responses

  1. Renata says:

    ‘Renata’ here: the conversation we had was amazing! Believe it or not, it has been the impetus towards acceptance of things just as they are, not as I have wished them to appear. It also called me to check in with myself,( and still working on this) of being more honest with what I feel when things happen….not always easy! However, learning that it’s okay to take my own blinders off is helping me to face more of myself in the depths of what is at the bottom of my fear of rejection. It is still part of ‘untangling’ myself from letting others be the ‘experts’ of my life and my destination.

    I still don’t know where I am going, but I am painting again. Something WILL happen; it always does. For now, I am just letting each day unfold by not putting any pressure on myself to create any agendas. It feels strange to finally feel the freedom enough to do this. I suspect it has always been like this, but I haven’t taken time in the past to discover this. I think this is what ‘hope’ is.

    • MT says:

      This has been something on my mind recently–what you say–with my slant on it being that we often can’t see exactly the way things are, or better, the real reasons behind the way things are, and so we see what we want to see in essence. Our subconscious is insidious in some ways, tricking us to see what we can accept instead of the truth, like why a person will marry into an abusive relationship when he/she had one with a parent? Familiarity? I think your “blinders” are a good analogy. We try to protect ourselves from “something” but really don’t give ourselves what’s in our best interest. Crazy!

      There seems a direct correlation between truth, freedom and hope. I’ll have to think on that some more. But your last sentence is indeed most beautiful, yours on “hope”. Does hope come from knowledge of the truth? I do believe, as it has been said, that with truth comes freedom. This seems where you are coming from (or going to!).

  2. Renata says:

    Renata here: we only know what we know, what we have conditioned ourselves to believe. The conditioning becomes a trap, something akin to a finished relationship with a bad lover. You know the whole thing wasn’t and isn’t good for you, but you crave something that it contained. That’s why we keep going back for more, maybe not the same person, thing, or whatever it was, but still looking for that ‘something’ which we think is outside of us. That’s not true that there is something external to us that has the answers for us, but we don’t know that for a very long time if we ever ‘get it’ at all.

    What is truth? How do we get to accept it? I’m working on that part. I think I have finally discovered and accepted that it is contained within me, within all that it took to get me where I am today. This is the good news. Conditioning can also have it appear differently. So that is where I am right now; working on seeing things as they truly are, accepting whatever it is (and it does not mean I have to like it) and being patient enough to give myself the process of time and experience to decide my next step(s). That is the freedom AND the hope for me.

  3. oldswimmer says:

    Rich content here, for anybody with ears to hear! Thank you, MT and Renata! Susan Holland

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