NOTE: I’m reposting this from the archives. Reminders about kindness are always a good thing, especially as we fold and pack away this year. Merry Christmas!
When Artists are Jealous
I overheard two artists making sharp, envy-driven comments about another artist’s beautiful work at an exhibit. Jealousy is a ugly cloak. Comparisons with other artists should be a healthy exercise, since surveying other people’s work – either on social media, or at exhibits – helps us stay inspired and keen on what’s happening in the art world.
Look Up from Below, and Smile
Admiring artists with more skill and/or success than we’ve fulfilled is an opportunity to galvanize our Where-I-Want-to-Be goals, if we frame it like that. There’s nothing more affirming than standing in awe of another artist’s exquisitely realized work. Beauty puts a foundation of conviction under our plans to sharpen skills with diligent practice. As artist-peers, we understand each other’s languages, and we all wrestle with the same internal creative foes. We know what it’s like to make things.
The Hazards of Meanness
The flip side of being in awe is standing in judgement. Looking with judgey-eyes at less skillful art than we’re capable of making can dull ambition with a seduction of complacency and self-administered attaboys. Criticisms over another artist’s novice or less proficient work – even in thought – dilutes our drive, and punctures our passion to improve. Confidence shining on your work with the light of another’s inexperience can pierce your ambitions with a nail of apathy.
Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without
hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.
Peer to Peer Support
Art-making sprouts from the core of who we are. It’s born in the places where we dip down to describe what we feel, how we see, our history and wishes and aesthetics. All of our art-making is forged by what we care about, and that personal well of creative expression makes us thin skinned to critiques about it. Do you want to paint more often after a critique, or a compliment? Some artists need both, but I think a policy of generosity within our Artists’ Tribe is a good standard to practice. Be generous (but real) with your encouragement and compliments.
Be a Joiner
It’s easy to justify a neutral existence in the online art world: with-holding likes, or avoiding sharing on social media. Lurking instead of engaging. Rarely leaving compliments or inquiries. Artists are known for keeping things close to the vest, out of insecurity or shyness, or worry about being copied, judged or ignored. Any one of those things could be the source of preferring the artist-hermit life, but really, the whole point of making art – for most – is to share it. Try to stretch past your comfort zone a little, and sprinkle the artworld with a crumb of social media artist-to-artist love.
We’re Good at Self-Doubt
Everyone has the same struggles with bad-art days. Most artists have experienced fear of the blank canvas, masterful procrastination, or creative block. There are entire books devoted to each one of those challenges. Other artists power through and produce like crazy, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t beset by skulking wolves of self doubt, just like the rest of us. Artists flourish with a little encouragement. We’re like gardens in need of sunshine. We creative types do well with some sort of outside championing to balance the see-saw of internal mental wanderings while making stuff alone. A little nice goes a long way.
Dare to be Kind
So, as an artist, be generous, and leave compliments, share other artist’s work with your friends and followers, click hearts and Likes buttons, and practice kindness. You’ll reap what you sow. ♥
Thanks for stopping by today, and I’ll see you in the next post!
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Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.