From My Soul, From My Hands, and From My Heart

Oct 23, 2014

Who is one's own worst critic? I own up to often being my own. When I find myself looking at old photos of myself I acutely recall how much I didn't like that shot at the time, but years later find I didn't look all that bad after all (old perms notwithstanding).

"Hey, I was pretty cute", my much older self says through her wrinkles.

And when I look through old projects, I find drawings and paintings that, at the time, I thought were sub-par only to rediscover to be really quite decent after all...several of which I've come to pluck out of the

darkness and place on a wall or two.

So what makes me think my work (or self) isn't worthy?

Sometimes it's the people whom we love (and who love us) who, out of some sort of misguided need to save us or themselves from ridicule, try to soften the inevitable blow by letting us know that most likely we're not the next best thing to hit the world.

Sometimes it's a teacher who makes an offhand comment, not entirely meant to discourage, that is taken to heart where it festers into something unforeseen. Those kinds of remarks often sit deep in our souls where they remain invisible negative yardsticks that stymie our growth. Teachers who discourage might be more powerful than those who nurture because they create an environment of self-doubt in which the seed of creativity has a hard time taking hold.

I also suspect that a big source of discouragement is the apparent success of others, the big splashy successes of the mass marketed. I don't cast aspersions to any of these folks. But sometimes the ideal to which we aspire, those careers of public figures, seem "out of our league", too fabulous, too not us.

So what to do?

First of all, people might not like what you do, and that's okay. I've slaved over stuff that nobody else likes but me. Gotta get to the other side of that. Not too hard since it's easy enough to think everyone else is nuts...nice nuts but nuts...and besides, I can always keep it since I like it!

The flip side: there's no accounting for taste...and by that I mean mine too! This past year I've posted images of paintings I've been reluctant to share because I thought they weren't so hot only to find that they been wildly popular! Who knew?!?

And finally, sometimes our loved ones are insecure about how our success might reduce them in some way. They love us but want us to stay who they think we are. This is an especially hard one for those of us whose work does not help support a household.

If I had one wish I would go back to that time when this challenge arose for me and realize that even though I would most likely not be the next John Singer Sargent or the next Georgia O'Keefe or the next Helen Frankenthaler, that my work was of value because it sprang from my soul, from my hands, and from my heart. And that someone might find that of value, and that I found it of value as well, and that that was enough for me to find my paradise.