Success Plan Notes
I read about unhappy artists who are angry with life, because they don’t find success. This has been going on long before the current economy which has affected many of us. I understand them because I used to be one of them. I was one of those frustrated, angry artists. I felt that the world owed me my shot and I wasn’t really getting it. I had lots of friends who lived very well indeed on the food chain and who had the opportunity to promote themselves, seeming to get all the breaks.
It never occurred to me that my failure was my own fault and not theirs. It took me a long time to grow up, but thank God I did. I learned that I could not possibly respect other artists because I did not respect myself. I could not learn to respect myself until I could allow myself to accept and love myself and my work.
How did I learn success?
The first thing I did was let go of my own conceit and hubris. That was the very hardest step and it did not happen quickly. I still have to tamp myself down every now and then. I was born with a large ego. I was the baby of the family and adored by my father. I got away with a lot that my older sisters did not. I was the first person ever in my family to get a college degree and then go on to grad school. I won best of show as a senior in the art department at college and that was a big deal, so the seeds were set for a real ego party. For most of my early career I was an insufferable ass!! I look back and cringe. I didn’t like me very much and neither did anyone else. Letting go of that was my greatest challenge.
The next step to success was to become a person of service. I learned to give freely of myself and my knowledge. Someone emailed me recently to say that I was a fool to give away my knowledge so much on this blog. Perhaps they are right, but I don’t think so. I believe what I share will eventually come back to me, both in the joy it brings me in sharing, and in the knowledge that we should all serve in the best way we can.
I firmly believe in a life of service. I think it makes me a better person than I used to be. I will be blessed for helping other artists and I never know how much I help. That is the beauty of giving. It is inexaustible, because someone I help today will pass on their help to another and another. I’ve always believed we have a circle of influence. In my circle of people I know or who know me, I can help several other artists and other people. They have a circle too, which overlaps mine and so forth, It’s like the drops on water, they overlap and continue out. I can’t really worry about people I can’t help who are far from me geographically and culturally, and I paralyze myself If I worry too much about what I can’t do. I feel it is smarter to focus on my circle and do all I can. I focus on artists, after all, who would I want to help more?
When times are good, I buy paintings from other artists and give them to my kids. I have done this for years and I like to think it makes the artists feel wonderful, at least I hope it does. I know other artists who do this too. We could probably all buy at least one painting a year from another artist. Think how much power we have to improve our artist friends lives. When is the last time you invited another artist out for coffee and treated them to a meal? Offered to share your materials with someone you know is in trouble and can’t afford supplies. It’s so easy to say ” I ordered the wrong color tube of paint. Can you use it?” They don’t have to know you are helping them. Another way to help is offering to lend frames to an artist who may have exhibitions and can’t afford decent frames. I have done this many times for emerging artists. Think about what you might be able to do for an artist who is struggling right now if you can afford to help them.
Linda’s Etsy Shop
The next success step for me was to accept that I can be better than I used to be, both as a person and as a painter. I can love my work and myself now without undue guilt over my past mistakes. I can forgive my arrogance and chalk it up to my past and leave it there. I believe one of the terrible useless and destructive things we must overcome, is guilt. My goodness, let’s get rid of our hair shirts and let go of our past transgressions.
I can honor the paintings that I did in the past, no matter how terrible they were, because that is the best work I was capable of at the time. I celebrate the fact that people loved them as they were and I should think of them with fondness and appreciation, as they were the stepping stones to building technique and understanding the process of painting. I am never ashamed of my work. It is a success because I am willing to try. Part two of this is understanding and acceptance of my current work. I can accept that it is far from what I wish it to be, and enjoy the process of learning, anticipating growth in my work.
The next step is to really believe in success and have real faith in my future. That includes letting go of the fear of failure. This is essential for any kind of goal. What really will happen if I fail? I will simply lose my business and have to find a job. Not the end of the world even if it were to happen. But it won’t, because I am committed in my heart and soul to succeed, and I will. I know I can succeed and so I will.
Does this mean I just sit around and wait for pie in the sky? No way. I am ever working toward my goal, with lots of effort and ideas.
My last step of success is to divorce myself from negativity as much as possible. I am trying for lemonade rather than lemons, learning to look at the good in situations even when they are stressful. I’m trying to avoid helplessness and bad news, preferring to laugh than cry when possible. There is so much negative that can be avoided all together, and I do. I try to surround myself with people who are excited about life and it’s possibilities. I have learned to avoid the evening news most of the time, and to focus instead on what I can do to help myself and others who depend on me for support and friendship.
Now whenever I am slighted by another artist, or left out of the latest exhibit, I ignore it and think instead about my next painting and new ideas. I can’t tell you what a difference this attitude change has made in my career, except to say it has been enormous. I no longer sweat the small stuff. Of course I feel pain and rejection, but I don’t allow it to take away from my focus on what is really good about life as an artist.
More musings for artists and collectors to come…..
Linda’s Chef Salad
In my quest to have a healthier diet, I make a lot of salads for supper. This one is a favorite.
Place mixed salad greens on a plate. Add the following:
1/2 diced apple
1/4 cup blueberries
1/4 sliced fresh pineapple
1 slice sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
1 slice ham, chopped
1 slice chicken or turkey chopped
1/4 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4 cucumber, sliced
1 hard boiled egg, sliced
Top it all off with some vinegar and olive oil dressing. Yummy!