Monday, August 17, 2009


Today’s blog is a bit different. I’m not talking about paintings, animals, or presenting a cartoon. Today I want to post about affirming one’s artistic self in the face of adversity, sometimes large, as in a major rejection, and sometimes supposedly small, as in an unkind comment.
It’s a sad fact that sometimes there are nasty things in the “artmosphere”. Every so often, something dark and unkind blows in and knocks one right off their feet. Sometimes, it hits so hard that an artist can’t survive, and drops out of sight. What a waste of talent, and what a vicious thing to do – to silence a creative voice. And the worst part is, that sometimes, the verbal aggressor is a fellow artist! I will never understand why some artists continue to slap down their fellows instead of extending that hand to help each other.
Most of us are still able to rebound from the rejection, the slight, or the nasty comment, and we can do so because we have found some way to Affirm to ourselves that we are indeed artists and our work has merit. Sometimes there is a major moment of enlightenment, but more often, it is something small and insignificant that whispers to us, and gets us on our artistic feet again.
One of those little acidic splotches of mean-spiritedness flamed out of the blue at me a while ago. (the juicy details will remain private.) The little zinger hit so hard, so unexpectedly, that I found myself immobilized by the shock and the hurt. For days, I couldn’t paint, could barely even face going into the studio to use the computer. I began to seriously consider getting rid of my art materials and giving up. Who needs to be steeped in an atmosphere of petty unkindness? I do other creative and lucrative things – I write, sew, garden, play the guitar (badly) and I’m building and outfitting a Miniature House. Did I really need to keep painting?
For days, I couldn’t nudge myself into painting, then I was reminded that I had made a commitment to a Gallery, that they were waiting for some paintings, and I needed frames for them, so I dragged myself into the art shop. The joyous rush of anticipation was missing when I walked in the door. I walked past the paints, the brushes and papers without so much as a glance. Then the brakes slammed on. There was this lovely art table blocking the aisle . I had been needing a new table for ages. Oh, I reminded myself, I’m not painting anymore. I don’t need the table. But it was just what I had wanted, the price was wonderful, and I couldn’t seem to make myself move away from it. I craved that table!
When I eventually walked out of the shop, I had three mats, three frames, and a beautiful new art table. I went home, my husband and I it set up, and then I decided that the old plastic taboret I had been using for years just was not going to go with the new table, so I got a new cabinet for my paint. The studio was looking great, I was beginning to get the itch to pick up a brush again, and almost at once, a new commission came in. I was painting again.
This time, there was no sudden enlightenment to make me realize that no matter what hurtful thing someone says, I am an artist. I belong. This time, all it took was table lust to jolt me out of my funk and get me back to believing in myself again, and to remembering that no one can make me feel badly about myself or my work if I don’t let them. I believe that there is an affirmation there for all of us when we need it, but it may not come in a conventional way. We just have to keep our eyes, ears, and minds open. And to the people who enjoy putting the thumb screws to fellow artists . .. it is not kind behaviour, nor is it classy, . . . so stop it!