View Full Version : TAW chapter 8

11-01-2001, 09:55 PM
Strength is what we gain by learning to recover from our losses. Recovering a sense of strength is an important step for any artist. Artistic losses come in many forms. They come in the form of dissapointment in the piece that we thought was fabulous but got lousy critiques. They come in the form of the piece the we were so excited about that somehow lost it's way and we can't regain the excitment about. We never talk about the feelings of loss that we experience over these instances. We keep that secret pain to ourselves because we wouldn't want to share that humiliation and possibly even have someone agree with us. Certain criticisms can be very damaging and leave us with a most profound sense of loss. We all want a truthful, to the point critiques accompanied by constructive suggestions and we do not want to be coddled or given false praise but we certainly do not need the kind of 'critique' that simply says "no, you have not done well" with no advice or reason. To allow ourselves one moment of self doubt after such a negative response to our work can cause further loss. The beginning artists as well as those who have been working for a very long time are going to encounter such comments from time to time. We have to discern the difference between a good critique and a bad one. The good one, whether or not the viewer liked the piece in question (for that has nothing to do with the work itself, but is a matter of personal taste) will bring new ideas to you and make you ask questions of your work. The bad critique is the one that leaves you with no questions about the fact that it's lousy and so are you. No advice is given, only opinion. We've covered this before but it is worth the remention because whether or not we've realized it, this is the type of thing that leaves you scarred and feeling great pangs of loss.
We must think about these losses and aknowledge them if we are to heal from them and turn them into gains. If you'd take a few minutes to really reflect you'll be able to put a finger on the things that have left you feeling wounded. Your own feelings towards a painting that you were sure was going to be a winner is usually right up there front and center, along with hurtful words uttered by others or the fact that your best ever piece sits covered in dust. Allow yourself to feel the loss once again because you cannot shed your loss if you cannot see it. The first step towards healing is aknowledgment. Holding back and internalizeing keeps you in the secret world of your pain.
One of our favored methods of dealing with painful and 'unsuccessfull endeavors' is to use our anger towards the situation to jump start us into action. Remember that anger is to be acted upon, not out. Anger can be a signal for you that it's time to act, time to make changes. I had a great idea for a painting which involved dancers. One of those inspirational moments that was 'gifted' to me when i saw two little girls dancing in the center of a shopping plaza. I had great plans for that painting! I was so excited about it that i rushed through my errands and broke traffic laws in order to get home to my little studio. All started out well. Idea... check! prepped canvas...check!study sketches...check! i did not complete the painting because i am realizing that even though i have the talent and the gifts of inspiration, i am lacking in experience with figures in general. I felt frustrated and mourned the loss of that experience. I also got angry. I have decided to enroll in a life drawing class. I have also purchased some books on drawing the figure. That experience taught me to use my loss to further my gains. This is what i must do. Recognize the loss, allow myself to feel it and then figure out how to use it. One other important step in regards to accepting, understanding and using your pain and losses is to take small actions to sooth your bruised child when these things happen. Do not think that telling yourself that it's ok is enough. As a matter of fact tell yourself that it's NOT ok and that you'll make lemonade out of this one way or another but give yourself a cookie along with that. :) A small treat such as a new brush or fun set of markers is a symbolic way to putting a bandaid on the bruise. Once you have your 'cookie' you'll feel the need to get busy making the lemonade.
Another part of recovering a sense of strength is to address a very common concern (Excuse). Time. Time and age. It's often said by artistic hopefuls that "I'm too old to begin learning now" or "I would love to do that when i retire" Let me say this clearly: Time and age have nothing to do with creativity! Nor will they. It's only common sense to understand that you will be as old as you will be whether or not you paint or draw or write or whatever. You can be 90 years old and paint or 90 years old and not paint. The person who says "goodness, I can't take classes now I'll be 70 when i finish" is conveniently leaving out the fact that they will otherwise be 70 anyway and not have the benefit of having taken the class!! We have no control over the process of aging but we do have control over where we are artistically at all times. The art itself is not a time limited thing in the first place! we will never be 'done' learning how to use our mediums. It's a lifelong journy and we are learning to enjoy the trip. If we focus solely on the destination we are on a collision course with dissapointment. Creativity is all about the ride. Even for the person who considers himself a hobbiest it becomes a way of life and evolves into more life. 'Creativity lies not in the done, but in the doing.' The product is only the result of the process. Once you learn to use your love of creativity to enhance your life you'll know which is more important. :)
The final step that we'll address in recovering a sense of strength is 'filling the form'. This is what we do when we take all of the small, individual yet important steps toward making art a very important and fulfilling part of our lives. We do not need to fear taking these steps because it's not neccessary or even recommended that we make huge, life altering decisions at this time, in order to fill the creative wells. When we start a painting or any piece of art, very often we find that our visions were exciting but now we have to do some very serious and labor intensive work to achieve the effects we want to. It's not neccessary to quit your job or put off your wedding in order to do it! Take the small steps, the baby steps that we've discussed and apply them here. One small step at a time will get the job done. As long as you take one small step at a time you will be on the right track. If you don't have the time to get seriously into the project at this minute organize the colors you think you'll use, sweep your studio floor, check your lighting. These may sound like silly tasks but what they are is making the commitment. Filling your form with anything related to the next goal will add up to a newer and bigger form right before your eyes. Doing something towards your creative endeavors every day will help to fill the form of the artist in you. Artistic steps needn't always be huge leaps. Creativity requires action. Even small scale actions. The largest changes in our lives as they pertain to our art are made up of many small ones.
To summarize this chapter: it encourages us to look at the past, find the things that we have deemed as losses and learn from them. Use that information to grow. It asks us to think about the timelines of our lives and put the art aspect of our lives into perspective and to understand that any step, no matter how small takes us in a forward direction.
Be productive. Be timeless. Be strong. If we can learn to do these things our art and our lives, though one and the same, will tend after each other.

Dr. Keith L. Young
11-03-2001, 02:36 PM
What I am beginning to realize is the Artist in me is a Child who can be very happy or very sad. He is so creative that he can paint and outstanding Heaven, or an outstanding Hell. Therefore, destructive criticsm can be very intense and heartbreaking, as he is capable in making it so. I know, it kept me away from Art for amost 40 years! Instructors must learn that Artist are children, no matter what their age.

Artists-Children have to take small steps, and yes, they will fall. But, they will rise and take more small steps. And, they will learn why they fell in the first place.

There are a lot holes around. Some of the biggest deepest ones are destructive critics. So, why go near them? And why do you pain? For them? or for yourself? Protect and nurture that Artist-Child.


P.S. I love this website. Just seeing my thoughts has helped me a great deal. Looking foreward to the next chapter. Thanks.

Dr. Keith L. Young
11-03-2001, 03:07 PM
must have been a Freudian slip when I said "why do you pain?" I meant "why do you paint? for them? or for yourself?"


Dr. Keith L. Young
11-03-2001, 09:24 PM
I got it! Yes, I pain and I hurt. And, that is why I am blocked.

The September 11th tragedy has really affected me deeply. I keep trying to ignore it but it recurs all the time. Shock, pain, sorrow, weeping, and anger cycles in my mind all the time!

I haven't thought of touching a brush since. I won Artist of the Year 2000, and I'm President of the Fremont Art Association. And I haven't been able to paint.

Are there any of you who are recently blocked? You have to release those feelings. One Artist I spoke to today did so by doing a piece regarding the tragedy. Let those feelings out!


Dr. Keith L. Young
11-09-2001, 09:09 PM
Today, I sold my first painting! "They love me, they really love me . . ." Talk about unblocking! I might sound like some kook, but keep this site. It will happen! :clap:

11-09-2001, 09:46 PM
Congratulations Dr. Keith!! :clap: :clap:

Dr. Keith L. Young
11-09-2001, 10:45 PM
Thanks, Sandi!

But call me Keith. The "Dr." is the other side of me. Remember, I am an Artist who also practices Dentistry. I am so happy, it's been 40 years.

Keith, the Artist.:clap:

11-11-2001, 01:26 PM
Wondeful news Keith! Congratulations! Isn't it a good feeling? Such a high! >> lifts her glass to Keith the artist!! :)

11-11-2001, 03:42 PM
You got it, Keith! :)
:: lifting glass in toast with Cheryl, to Keith the Artist! ::: Way to go Keith!! :clap:

Dr. Keith L. Young
11-11-2001, 03:56 PM
Thanks again, Sandi and Cheryl:clap:

But you know, thinking about the whole event. . . it's not about the fame or the money, it's about making someone really happy. I haven't met the buyer, but I know I made the person excited enough to pay hard earned money for my work. It's a Win-Win situation. I'm really happy that I touched their hearts.

So, now I go finding and capturing things and themes which will make someone else feel the same way.

Keith, the Artist

11-13-2001, 06:22 PM
Well done Keith, I was uplifted by your obvious joy - thanks for sharing it - Nick

11-13-2001, 06:24 PM

would you kindly post it ?

Dr. Keith L. Young
11-13-2001, 10:32 PM
Wish I had taken a photo of it before putting it up in the gallery. Sorry that I cannot share the piece with you.

I have submitted five others this year without a bite, and really did not expect this sale. I chose a historic elementry school in the area as the subject, and used a lot of pale blues and greens. I tried for something very tranquil, yet majestic. Maybe, I was hinting upon an age long ago without the pressures of today's world - a time to remember. Or, if one was to return for a visit there, it was a place untouched and reserved only for the visitor. Everything was just as he remembered, but the experience was totally his. Wouldn't all of us want that experience? Just once?

So, isn't that a good theme for an Artist? Allow someone to enter a world untouched, true to one's memory, to explore totally in private, one's past experiences? What a trip!

Well, I did it for this person. I touched some one's heart. I made him/her very happy and so am I. Art is a Win-Win. I am stoked!

This exercise, The Artist's Way, is not a cult! I do not know of any others and that is why I have connected with this website. I suggest you get the book and follow the exercises alone, as I first did.

Feel free to e-mail at any time.