Paths Taken

I’ve been really enjoying making toys lately. It’s fun. It’s therapeutic. But, I’ve also noticed that I am putting off painting. This happens to me, more frequently than it should. I can easily overcome my nervousness by just doing it, which I will do soon. I realize that I let this happen to me too often. A lot of anxiety about making art is wrapped up in fear of failure, or even fear of success. There is even a certain amount of fear in just putting what you’ve made “out there” for people to see. Art is personal, and no matter what form it takes, it expresses who you are on some level. I’m comfortable enough, at this point, with these issues. What gets to me, and I am embarrassed that it gets to me, is the negativity I encounter from other people. I’m sure this happens to other artists…

People come into my life, usually people I’ve dated, people who say they “like” or even “love” art. They’ve usually dabbled in drawing/painting/sculpting, taken a class a more, gone to galleries, museums, etc. At first it seems great to have something in common and an encouraging person around. Then this weird thing happens, and it happens a lot. It usually starts with a statement to the effect that they “always wanted to be an artist” but they “just didn’t have the time.” It sounds innocuous, but really, I need to learn to run when I hear this. Usually, there is also someone they blame for their not becoming an artist as well, like an unsupportive parent, a needy ex-spouse, or children, and there is the-job-they-hate-that-makes-them-miserable. Before I say anything more, please, if you feel this way about your life, do what you can to change it now. Make yourself happy, even if that means being an artist part time. As far as I know, we only go around once, and it isn’t worth it to spend our lives being unhappy. Throughout my childhood, we lived on my mom’s art. Life was hard sometimes, but it was fun too. I don’t think any of us would trade it.

Instead, so many people choose to resent their lives. These “thwarted artists” are the people who are like poison for me. At first they are very interested in what I do, and I think they might want to participate or join in in some way. Then they start putting me down in some subtle, and some not-so-subtle ways. They insinuate that I will fail. They try to “help” by suggesting new careers for me. One of my favorites was that I should become a “tooth carver” (I’m not sure what that is or even if it exists!) or a hair stylist, because those are “almost the same thing” as being an artist. I am sure they are someone’s passion, just not mine! They imply that they would be doing what I am doing, if they only could, as if somehow, I had anything at all to do with their own choice of profession. They imply that it is unfair that they should be doing the work they are doing, while I am doing what I want to do, as if I were stopping them from a change. Somehow, if it weren’t for me, they would be trying all sorts of things they never had the confidence to pursue before. Oddly, I imagine, of the people they know, I would be the person who would most encourage them to try something new. Usually, with or without me around, they continue to toil away along their chosen paths. Sometimes, one breaks free, and I hope they are happier for doing so. Most fail to see that what I do has nothing to do with what they chose to do. They are unhappy and, in their minds, it is only fair that I should be unhappy too, when really, I am happy and they should find a way to be happy too. Of course, it would be better for them to find people they don’t resent in the first place, rather than try to change me.

So, the sad thing for me is that I feel the impact of this lack of faith in me. Every time I spend too much time with people like this, I have to recover. Even after they have gone, the shadow of that devil on my shoulder remains, a voice that says, “No, you can’t.” That is the poison. Fortunately, I still believe the angel on the other shoulder that says, “Yes, you can.”

I’d like to thank everyone who sends me their well wishes and encourages and supports me, especially my parents, who have never wavered in their confidence in me.

I’d like to thank Jess today, for including my print “The Rabbit Dances“, in her “EFA Birthday Bash!! Help Animals!” treasury on Etsy. Etsy for Animals is running a promotion right now, 20% off from participating sellers using this coupon.

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