I’d like to give you permission to not share your artwork with friends and family. Not that it’s in my power to grant, but if it makes you feel better you can go ahead and pretend it is. During a conversation with a writer friend the other day I admitted to not even showing my partner finished pieces a lot of the time.My friend replied that I must be very internally motivated in my art-making.
What I didn’t mention at the time is that when I first started out I absolutely showed my partner the little creations I was proud as punch of… and was shattered when he couldn’t muster up what I considered to be the appropriate level of enthusiasm.
As an artist, you need to begin cultivating an inner source of validation for your work as soon as possible (and as a human being but that’s a tad beyond the scope of this post). When we seek support from friends and family for our artwork without a strong internal source of validation, we’re in trouble. There are many vast and varied reasons why you might not receive the support you think a loved one should show for your work, which are entirely independent of the worthiness of your art.
If they’re not already enthusiastic about your work and your plans for it, it’s not your job to win them over. Work to impress yourself. I adore this fierce statement of self-belief and independence of spirit from an artist I follow on Twitter:
“My art is just what I think art should look like. Feel free to make your own.” — @ArtistJV
The very special group of people who agree that your art is what art should look like might not include your partner or your mum, and that’s okay.
In an ideal world, we’d all have a nest of kindred-spirits to snuggle up with and talk about our soul-projects to with wild abandon. I do believe it’s important to put tendrils out into the universe, and be as authentic as we can whilst doing so, in order to find these rare folk. In the meantime however, let’s:
- Find a way to give ourselves what we’re looking for in others.
- Recognise that some folk in our lives can’t give us what we need in this area.
- Let them and ourselves off the hook and stop expecting to get what it is you’re looking for from those quarters, and
- Give others what we ourselves are in search of (because it’s a nice thing to do).