Monday, February 28, 2011

it is just their opinion

When I was taking art lessons, I had future plans to paint a lot. Then I went to a seminar by a successful art gallery owner who asserted that if you don't know the world of modern art and understand what other painters are doing, you're going to fail. Well, I fell for that one hook, line and sinker! I reasoned that since I knew of no dictionaries or glossaries to define the modern art terms that are tossed around, and since the modern art world had no clearly defined standards of excellence or beauty that I could reach for, I decided that the endeavor was hopeless. I soon stopped going to art classes and basically gave up. This is so unlike me: I am tenacious when I want to reach a goal, especially when it is art related, but for some reason, this gallery owner's OPINION sounded close enough to THE TRUTH that I believed him.

Years later, I attended a seminar by a watercolor artist who makes 6 figures a year by creating her art, thus she dissolved the concept of "starving artist" for me. Also, she said that she shunned gallery owners, preferring to sell directly to people at art shows, all the while building her mailing list. She also had a very different opinion about the art world: that the paintings you create, and put strong emotion in, are far more important than understanding the art world. According to her, your paintings are the priority, not the networking. Her opinion felt much, much, much better and listening to her INCREASED my desire to paint. That's how you know who's opinion to accept or consider. Listening to a valuable opinion makes you want to create more, not less. Even constructive criticism should be just that, constructive: something that builds you up, not tears you down.

Now, I want to ask you a question. Did something like what happened to me when I listened to that art gallery owner happen to you at some time or another? Did some artist, some art teacher, some celebrity, some successful person, some family member, some loved one, some group of people, or some book convince you that you could not, or should not, create the effects YOU wanted to create with your art or other creative endeavor? If this happened and you went into agreement with their negative opinion, I can practically guarantee you that is the point when your interest in your art or creative activity lessened, maybe lessened a lot!

Be very selective about whose opinions you take to heart. The only person who has the right to decide what effect you will create with your art or creative activity is YOU! Even if you need proper, or better, instruction; even if you need more practice; even if you have to go to an environment where you are more appreciated. The Internet could make that last part easy, but long before the Internet, Josephine Baker decided that she was a star and since the USA was not yet ready for a Black woman to be a star, she went to Paris and became the star she already knew she was. But she decided what her dreams were, she didn't let anyone else decide for her. (In case you're not familiar with Josephine Baker: "before Madonna, before Marilyn, there was Josephine". That's on the DVD cover of the cable TV movie based on her life.)

You are as entitled to your opinion as anyone else. If they say, "You can't", you have every right to reply, "Watch me!"