How Tall Are You?


Want to know how to get your gleam on? Expose yourself.

Exposure completes the communication cycle of art. It is a primal human instinct to want to leave your mark, to say, “I was here.” This need to share our creations starts early. Who hasn’t run up to their mom or teacher exclaiming, “Look what I made.” (Isn’t that why refrigerator magnets were created?)

And then something happens. We start to hide our art, or worse yet, we stop making it altogether. I’m not going to go into all the reasons why this happens. We all know that comparison is a dangerous thing.

What I want to focus on here today are the benefits of risking exposure. It’s a scary thing to screw up your nerve and show your art to someone else, especially if it’s something you’ve just started doing again after a decade long hiatus. But it is a necessary action if we want to complete the cycle of communication.

That very act of creating again, after all these years, is a testament to your need to make your mark. You’ve already overcome the biggest private hurdle because you were brave enough to begin again. Congratulate yourself!

HidingFaceBut showing your work to someone else, that’s another story. It’s a public hurdle and the risk is high. You’re no longer a sweet innocent little kid. People may not be as supportive. Someone might laugh at you or worse, loved ones may not understand. There may even be rejection. I could write a book on all the things that come up when you risk exposure by showing your art, but that too, is for another day.

Today, I want to let you know all the good things that happen when you do take the risk, just as so many did when they submitted their art for consideration for both the first and next, November 2014, edition of Quotes Illustrated. 

Many of the over 200 artists who submitted their work wrote to me about their experience and the insight they gained by overcoming that fear. Arlene Holtz was working with a quote that truly summed up her experience:

My quote, “If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?” turned out to be rather prophetic for me! I experienced some fear and doubt while coming up with an idea and the subsequent painting efforts I did. I FELT over my head and worried that what I would come up with wouldn’t be “good enough” for publication. In the end the quote itself really helped me get over the hurdle and just do it, regardless of whether it gets selected or not. At least now I have a better idea about “how tall I am“. Thank you T S Eliot and Lesley for this lesson and opportunity to grow!”

Failure is only failure when it doesn’t move you forward says Jonathan Fields. So true, so true. The act of trying and failing has built-in rewards that one can never experience any other way. (Tweet this!) So many artists wrote to tell me how scary it was to follow through with their commitment to me. What they ended up with was a commitment to themselves and the pride that comes from trying and completing something that scares them. They got their gleam on.

1. Some gave up early on and never finished any artwork.
2. Some completed a piece of artwork but never submitted it.
3. The brave ones submitted their work even though they may have felt it wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. And yes, many didn’t make it in to the book, but they tried. (There were only 30 spots and 200+ entries)

Groups one and two rejected themselves.
Group three gained the most from the experience.

How tall are you?

How tall do you want to be? Let me know. I love hearing your comments and insight.

Quote on Fragment: Wherever you are is always the right place. There is never a need to fix anything, to hitch up the bootstraps of the soul and start at some higher place. Start right where you are.
   Julia Cameron



  1. You are such an inspiration, Lesley. Also, the timing of your posts always seem to resonate with what I am experiencing at the time. I loved the challenge of illustrating a quote especially one that spoke so clearly to me. Thank you for the opportunity and the encouragement .

  2. Thanks for the encouraging words.

  3. What I would like to tell anyone just picking up art again and wanting to share it but wondering who to share with is with an online group. There are so many groups for different kinds of art or for different reasons for doing art but I have not come across one, not one that did not support every member in the group whatever level they are at. So if your family gives you a hard time and surprisingly they can be the toughest on you since you are making things change by taking art seriously again, or your friends can’t understand your new drive to create then join an online group and get the support you need. We all need some support when taking on something new especially as personal as art is so come join with people who understand where you are and what you need to keep going!

  4. Such an interesting blog, Lesley. I am a “52” subscriber, but have not visited your blog but a few times. So I just subscribed, now that I see what great stuff is here for the reader. Thank you!

  5. I have just retired from full-time work and have used work as one of my excuses to not get serious about my art. I have been trying to figure out what is holding me back besides my huge self critic. Thank you for the post as it shows just where I am and where I want to be. I will trying to grow some inches and begin my new chapter.

  6. hello Lesley!! I was in the third group. And, to be honest, the experience was a great one. Even though I didn’t make it, I MADE it as I had envisioned it from the moment I found the photo I used. Thanks again for a wonderful challenge and experience.
    now about that table? gotta go look

  7. DiAnna Loy says:

    I was in the third group,too, and even though my art was not accepted I’m still glad I submitted it. The more I looked at it the more I found that someone else might not like. It was an artist interpretation of something very dear to my hear- my home. That’s thanking a huge risk! My husband didn’t say very much until weeks after it was submitted when one day he gave me a hug and thanked me for sharing our home with Lesley and possibly the world.

    • Thanks for telling me the “back story” DiAnna. I really enjoyed seeing your home. And who knows…not now does not mean not ever…
      You never when where your art can take you. Thanks so much for submitting such a beautiful piece.

  8. Linda Morgan says:

    Hi Lesley,

    I was in group 3. Brave but felt that the art wasn’t as good as I would have liked. My idea was good but I struggled with the execution. I am proud that I did submit 2 pieces. I did not get selected but it was a great learning experience. I also read 2 books on Anne Morrow Lindbergh doing research and enjoyed every minute. Thank you for the opportunity.


    • Ah, yes Linda, I forgot about the benefits from the research and all the fun that goes into coming up with an workable idea. Reminds me of another quote that rings in my head often while I work on ideas – Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still. Henry David Thoreau

    • Gift from the Sea by AML is at my right as I write this, and I think every women going through any transition should read this little profound book. Little? well yes but you will find yourself reading passages over and over, putting it down, and pondering its relevance, and saying, “mmm, yes I know what she means.”

  9. Hi my sweet Lesley,
    I love this posting! And I loved that you shared pictures of your studio. Both erin and I have Raskogs (the wonderful turquoise rolling cart) in our studios. Now there will be a run on IKEA to get them!
    I am getting my gleam on!
    Hugs, Corinne

    • I do so love my cart, Corinne. I tried to buy it in three stores with no luck and then they offered it online. I’m tempted to get another too.

      Gleam on~