Who’s Cheering in Your Corner?
Did you catch this blog post about how you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with? Do you have a squad of encouragers around you? Who do you call when creative block crushes your art-making mojo, or a wave of uncertainty washes over your painting or printmaking adventures? Beginning artists are more susceptible to self-doubt than seasoned, professional, gallery represented artists.
The Terrible Troll of Self Doubt
Self doubt is a universal cycle, so professionals struggle with it too. The difference, perhaps, is that the journeymen artist has plowed a steady, determined trough in his/her painting-path to just keep marching forward. An experienced artist gets the work done, even if the troll-critic whispers disparaging predictions. If you’re making things with your hands, and you aren’t seasoned yet, and you’re a little squirmy about being a Beginner – at anything – can I urge you to develop a connection to an art cheerleader?
Behind the Bullhorn
When I decided – in my fourth decade – to throw myself into art full time, my friends were engineers, scientists and entertainment executives. I knew I had to find an Art Squad to exhibit with, and dive into All the Things related to a life in Art. Before I ever populated my teepee with the wise counsel of seasoned artists and a community of creatives like you? – I had an art cheerleader in my Step Dad – Tom. Can I tell you a little about him, and why you should have a Tom too? If you’re new to being an artist, and you think you might hike a path towards showing, and maybe even selling your work, it’ll help to have someone behind the bullhorn, cheering for you.
Family, with Quotation Marks
Tom is not officially my step Dad. He had a brief relationship in the early 80’s with my mother, and my sister and I have adored him ever since. He has no children, and we had absent fathers, so the three of us fell into father/daughter rolls without ever consciously deciding to fill those voids for each other. He’s been a cheerleader from the sidelines – supporting my sister’s decision to leave a two decade job to go to Radiology School. Tom supported my leap into becoming a full time artist at a juncture in my previous career by encouraging me to paint – a lot. He built me a road case to carry paintings across park lawns at art festivals. Then he drove 3 hours to attend an art festival and help me set up when I first started doing shows. He’s family.
Do you have an art cheerleader yet? They don’t have to be related to you in the traditional sense – but they have to believe in you when you don’t believe in you. Have you found your art cheerleader?
Oh, to be Awful
Being a beginner – at anything – when you’re an adult is uncomfortable. We’re grown ups, and we’re supposed to know stuff by now, right? Those of us who are risk-averse and older than thirty might not even remember what it was like to be awful at something. Is that you? An art cheerleader who believes in you ardently enough to douse your internal naysayers is like adding a superhero cape to your studio wardrobe.
Tell Me Something Good
When you’re slumped in your chair, over a studio floor strewn with crumbled ‘It’ll-Never-Work’ art, and you’re thinking you just don’t have what it takes to climb the art hill, a short conversation with someone who believes in you enough for ten other people can set your world upright again. This is the truth, and if you’ve never had that gift before, can I ask you to survey your peeps, and find someone? Or a whole group of someones? A single voice hoping, cheering, encouraging and believing in your art journey is a vitamin on an anemic day.
From a Father to his Son
You have made tremendous strides in art. Your drawing is strong, your colors are true. You have rid yourself of that limp Flandrinian-Lamothian line work of that gray, leaden color. There is no need to keep tormenting yourself, my dear Edgar; you have set an excellent course. Set your mind at rest, and through calm but steady and unabated work persevere along this path you have chosen. It is yours and nobody else’s. Work in peace, I tell you, stay on track, and rest assured that you will succeed in achieving great things. You have a bright future ahead of you; don’t lose heart, don’t worry yourself so.
~Written to Edgar Degas – from his father Auguste De Gas in the summer of 1858
Combing All the Lands
Search for an art cheerleader in local artist associations, so you can be someone’s art cheerleader too. You know – in expert terms – what sort of encouragement another artist needs. Reach out to artist friends interested in once a month art-days so you can share methods and cheer each other on. Attend exhibitions, and be chatty with other attendees. Read art magazines and blogs to search for artists who’s tone and meter sound encouraging so you can follow them, and absorb that Go-Gettum message. Take a weekend workshop and mingle with other attendees.
This is On You
Making art on a regular basis requires a certain amount of “driving”. You have to drive yourself to your table and grab your art supplies, and drive yourself to practice art often enough to get better at it. You have to drive yourself to finish that piece you started last summer. You have to show up for yourself with the same conviction you’d show for a friend. And drive yourself to find your version of my Tom. Do you have someone in your corner, chanting You’ve Got This! and rooting for you?
Thanks for stopping by today, and I’ll see you in the next post!
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P.P.S. This is a great article, with some directives for Finding your Creative Muse by Leslie Owen Wilson.