Tuesday, April 23, 2013

On Gratitude

I got a really lovely comment the other day. I get a lot of really lovely comments (yes, you can go ahead and call this a humblebrag if you like), but this particular one really touched me.  It came at just the right time - I've had a few tough, hard-working, disappointing and quietly emotionally taxing months, and at this particular moment I either needed some words of encouragement or a kilo of ice cream - and it was worded just right. And I kept coming back to it and it kept making me smile.

"This is so beautiful its breathtaking. I cannot tell you just how much I love this - thank you so much for sharing this amazing picture :)" ~SeaPiper -

That's it.  Just some simple words, but I know that feeling of seeing something so beautiful it takes your breath away a little bit and right now it just blows me away that someone else could feel like that at something I've made.  That they could like it so much they actually thank me for sharing it.  That's kind of amazing.

As artists, we're under pressure to constantly Do Better. Learn more. Grow. Improve (faster). That thing you painted yesterday is now worthless, why haven't you moved on yet? Be your own toughest critic. Change it up (don't let me catch you looking back at your comfort zone in longing!). What do you mean you aren't going to shell out $300 for this Essential Workshop - doesn't your craft mean ANYTHING to you? Don't forget to watch every single one of this artist's educational livestreams, follow all these blogs WHILE memorising Loomis' entire works AND doing at least a hundred gesture sketches, a self-portrait and a still life study every day, and if you don't post all those to the meanest, most hardcore art forum you know and let them tear apart your latest work six ways from Sunday, well then, you're not REALLY committed to improving are you?

Basically, it can be REALLY hard to stop and appreciate a positive comment when someone out there probably thinks an "AWESOME!" is one of the seals that opens the Gateway to Artistic Failure! (Next step - actually liking something you painted a year ago. Oh, the horror!)  But sometimes, we need to be told that someone finds something that we've done awesome, just as it is, imperfect as it is.

Encouragement is not the devil incarnate.  This has made me very aware of how bad I am at realising this, and how ungrateful it is to the people who are trying to encourage me.

So this is me saying thank you to all the people who have told me that my art is beautiful, that it made you smile, or chuckle, that it reminded you of something, that it made you want to draw, who ask about how it was made, who just took a second to hit Favourite/Like/Reblog; for saying that something I did, whether it's five minutes or five years old and when it's far from perfect, had an teeny positive impact on your day.  And thanks especially to ~SeaPiper, for prompting this (and also for some Tumblr discussion from *MelissaFindley and *juliedillon on accepting critique, which factored into my thoughts).

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