I heard from someone who used to be in the same online journaling community as me, saying it was wrong of me to state that someone's art was "shitty" (this was a few years ago). She thought I was talking about her work, though I never mentioned any names.
What stayed with me the most was when she said that she stopped painting for a long time after the comment. It made me think, eventually, about just what can make us stop doing what we love doing.
The question I pose is - who can stop you? And why should you let them? It’s amazing, the power we hand over to others, while they may be completely oblivious to our acts anyway.
In the public pursuit of art making, it's not for the weak or timid. If you seek approval - to have everyone love you - you are going to have a rough ride! Because even if you become very "good" at what you do, not everyone will agree. Art is subjective. People have very strident opinions about it. (Perhaps I came through it trial by fire, because my first public foray into an art “career,” if that’s what you want to call it, were the punk collages, fanzines and posters. I had a fan base of about five back then.)
Many of us go into the creative act thinking well, we've made a poem and it's good. But sorry to say, this does not make us a poet. A really great poet applies their life to it. The great poems are no accident, or the thing they did last year when there was time or "inspiration." Writing a couple of good poems did not make me a poet. Even at 51, I am still finding out on a daily basis just how much art is asking of me.
The notion of quitting made me pause because I, too, from time to time, would or could not paint. Perhaps I told myself it was about economics but maybe that was not really true. Perhaps that stroke of the ego was not received at a critical time.
And there is that cyclical thing - everyone has them - you make work by not making it. Maybe you have to go out and make money (instead of art, damnit!) or you’re sick. Maybe you just need to think. But what someone does or does not say about your work should never stop you.
This also made me consider what I might to say to several fellows who told me what I couldn’t or shouldn’t do and why I listened to them. Because yes, I listened to them and while they have probably forgotten all about it, my own reaction hurt me. Of course this is really a subject for another post, but when someone says they love you and your work is cool but but but - well, it’s really damaging….
- But is it their fault I took the turns I did? Whoever made them right anyway?