Sunday, August 23, 2009

Keep on loving yourself

Looking for starfish at low tide
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
(Not quite finished. I need to do a little
more work on the Mom and the child,
and make the seaweed more subtle. Then it's
done. I like how absorbed the characters
are. This is my shore experience. Watching a
hermit crab, or looking for starfish is the only thing
that matters in the world. These people are
completely in the moment.)

Artists are brave people. They take part in a strange
activity, and occasionally run into people who don't
understand their artwork, but feel compelled to comment.
Some of my artist friends recently have been exposed
to what seems like mean-spirited remarks. But one friend
came up with a great solution. If someone says that your
work is ...pick the detracting comment... agree and say
that's what you were trying to do, so thank you!

How funny! The critic may switch gears in front of you,
and will think you are an amazingly positive personality, whatever
he/she thinks of your art. Alyson Stanfield has made it
clear, our goal is to sell our art, and make enough money
to do this super job for a living. We need to be role models
of how to be a joyous spirit. I have seen for myself how
acting this way, even when it takes an effort, spreads a
kind influence, and makes living as an artist, much more

So why the title today? Ultimately you have to keep loving
yourself. You are not an idiot for choosing the wrong blue,
wrong paint, canvas, subject, style, or whatever else you dislike
about yourself and your work. You are a maker of miracles,
a person who is adding something unique to the mix of
culture in the world. You are a brave and courageous
human, and everyone here thinks you are terrific. Lighten
up and go and make something. I think I'll take my own
advice. The answer is yes.

Have a yes-I-do-create-fantastic-art day.


Catherine Jeffrey said...

Some very deep thoughts you bring up here, Barbara. When a person creates something and displays it, or sings it, or markets it for all the world to share, we are leaving ourselves open for comments and opinions. There is no doubt that negative words are hurtful, and can kill our motivation. I don't want to sound trite, but its the old adage "be true to yourself". On the other hand, some people are at the very beginning stages of discovering who they are artistically, and don't quite know who "self" is yet. This is one of the downsides of blogging...if a person gets a positive comment on one particular painting style, they may keep going in that direction solely for the positive feedback or monetary returns and not for their commitment to what they are trying to achieve. It takes a lot of strength, confidence, and hard work to stay with our "missions statements" which as artists we should all have. I spent years on the wrong path because of positive feedback and money.
O.K...I'm getting too serious and my head is starting to hurt. More coffee.
In the end, you are right. We must continue to "love ourselves".
Speaking of love, I love the bright colors in this posting and in the previous one, and they have brightened my day and made me happy.
One last question..Is it ok to offer helpful advice on a blog even if it comes off as a little negative?

Catherine Jeffrey said...

P.S. I can't regret my "wrong path" decision too much because as a single Mom, it allowed me to work at home. (I did paintings of birds and animals on stone and on canvas and sold them at the One of a Kind Show in Toronto)Sometimes we do what we have to do to survive.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Catherine,

I used to be a flower painter exclusively, so I know about doing what sells. In fact they didn't sell half as well as my portraits, which is what I love to do. At the time that was what I loved to do. I don't think people keep going with a certain style because of comments, I think artists, even beginning ones are doing what they need to do at the time. I don't have a mission statement but I have a mission "have fun painting and sell my work."

I don't think advice is what blogs are for. Unless it's to say. "Go for it!" It seems like the wonderful thing about the art blog world is that it's a place for encouragement. Artists really need that.

Thanks for your thoughtful response to my entry. I guess keep loving yourself is advice isn't it. Oh well. My bad.

Take care,


Melinda said...

Another beauty, Barbara! And wonderful words. Reading your post is like taking wonderful, healing medicine. You're right, of course, we lift ourselves away from the disparaging comments we sometimes receive by having a positive attitude and helping others. I do love these bright colors and this strong composition...

claud-hop said...

Dear Barbara,

What an inspiring post. I feel less afraid to make mistakes! And what a lovely painting, I wish I could go play in a tide pool right now!


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

Thanks. I learned this technique in therapy years ago, but frequently forget. If someone says you are silly, and you say "yes I am. Thank you." The person is defeated. Especially if you can manage a smile. Who knows why people want to attack one another. But it's hard to attack verbally, when the other either withdraws (some mean comments are too abusive to agree with) or smiles and agrees.

In art circles people get caught in the right/wrong way to do something debate. So funny. Was Picasso doing it right? His estate thinks so.

But then you know all this, you are always teaching me more and more.

Take care,



Barbara Muir said...

Hi Claudia,

You could of course, but you need a car. I don't know if you have your license yet, but it's sure a good idea. Then you and I can drive out! You need a vacation right. I remember you in the tide pools. Now that was fun!

Or how about Chicago?

Love Barbara

Nicki said...

Hi Barbara,

I was just looking through your recent blog posts and when I read this entry I felt like you were speaking directly to me. In fact, I just started a blog last week which is meant to be a bit of a diary as I start a new stage in my life (my youngest is now heading to school), and I plan to post some of my artwork along the way. I have loved art my whole life, but within the last few years have felt that it has become more than an interest or hobby... it really is a part of who I feel I am. The problem is that I have this fear that I will be found out as someone who really doesn't know what she is doing! I attended a painting workshop this summer and at the final critique another participant had some very harsh words for my work. I was crushed and it took about a week to pick myself up and dust myself off. It is a very vulnerable place artists of any kind put themselves in when they put their work out into the world.

Thank you for your words of wisdom and for sharing your gorgeous and vibrant paintings.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Nicki,

One of my favorite artists in the whole world was subjected to a dig on his credibility recently, and I bristled. As an artist I know you need to develop a bit of a thick skin, and a sense of humour. The sense of humour, and clear understanding of why you're an artist certainly help when people say something unkind, whether intentionally or through a lack of understanding of the process.

I think your work is beautiful.

Take care,


Portrait Artist

My photo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at:
A major highlight in my career? Drawing Oprah Winfrey live via Skype for her show "Where in the Skype are you? Galleries: Studio Vogue Gallery, Toronto, Canada. The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York City. Gallery at the Porch Door, Kingston, Canada. Your positive comments on this blog mean the world to me. I'd love to hear from you!