Being An Artist, Support and Encouragement

I didn’t do any drawing over Christmas, but I did take some pictures.  This is one of them, a reflection in one of the paintings in our room.

You’re not alone, I wrote to Blue.  So many of us have times when we don’t have ideas or can’t get motivated.  It’s hard to be an artist without the support of other artists. Difficult to convince ourselves that our work is important when they’re no one to show it to, no one to talk to about it. 

Blue, who Jon and I  met a couple of summers ago in Sue Silverstein’s artroom at Bishop Maginn High School,  reached out to me,  asking me if I could help her come up with some idea for her art.  She’s on break from nursing school and wants to get back into her art before classes start again.

Blue told me that she was finding school easy, doing better than she thought she would. But she still doesn’t believe she’s smart.  I get that too.  I was sure when I went to college and got good grades that it was a mistake.  I was never the “smart one”.

I remember my fears the first time I left art school that I’d stop making art. I was already married and I knew if I wanted to keep making art, I’d have to figure out how to make space for it in the rest of my life. I always felt that my husband at the time was jealous of my art.  And while he didn’t actively discourage it, he didn’t encourage it either.

Art school wasn’t an option for Blue.  A refugee who lived in a camp for most of her early life, she’s expected to become a nurse to help support her family.

I was glad when Blue reached out to me.

Supporting and encouraging other artists is a passion of mine.   Jon’s belief in me as an artist was invaluable when he gave me a studio to work in on his farm and I started my business over ten years ago.  He’s always been a warrior for creativity and I’ve come to believe, as he does, that it’s a sin to squander it.

So I called Blue and told her to draw what’s in front of her.  The room she’s sitting in, a piece of furniture, the street light outside her window.  It’s not what you draw or paint, I told her, it’s how you see it. We each see things differently, and an artist gets to interpret what they see in their own unique way.

I believe any piece of art I make is good as long as my marks are confident and it is imbued with feeling. Being an artist is about seeing.  For me, it’s about observing the world around me and translating the feeling or idea I get from what I see.

Blue is a gifted artist.

She uses her medium of paper, ink, pencil, and paint with skill and emotion.  Most of her work has been inspired by Anime, a Japanese cartoon.  But I know she can paint or draw whatever she chooses to.

For Christmas, my friend and collage artist Emily Gold gave me a book by Austin Kleon called Keep Going about how to stay creative. It’s a small engaging book with quotes from all kinds of artists and ideas for staying motivated.  Emily stuck a note in the book saying “For keeping me going with our art talks this year”. 

I forgot what I was missing, not having another artist to talk to and exchange ideas with, until Emily and I started our art talks over Zoom in March.  I treasure them and can hardly imagine not having them anymore.

I got a copy of the book and sent it to Blue and asked her to send me a picture of her drawings and paintings.    Sometimes having a little encouragement and someone who believes in you, someone who cares is just what a person needs to get them going.

It’s what I needed.

Blue recently updated her Etsy Shop BluesArts with more of her original paintings. You can see them here.  There are some zodiacs and this one called “Crying Galaxy” Blue wrote that she painted it because “the galaxy is upset with the world.

“Crying Galaxy” By Blue 11×15″ $45

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