9. As An Artist Thinketh ...

Dear Sade,

Throughout my art career - 8 years now - I have found great joy and self-fulfillment in the creative process. However, the painting life is not always a bowl of cherries and one does occasionally have a 'car smash' that hinders progress. More often than not these 'smashes' happen in the mind. At the risk of accentuating the negative I tell you openly about the dinosaurs that came across my path. Sade, my hope is that my experiences will help you to deal with similar situations should they raise their ugly heads in your painting life. O.K., let's assume that you are now down the road apiece with your painting experiences and your work is singing the right songs for you. Then one day you land up on that long snake that lies one step away from the Finish block in the game of snakes and ladders. 'Down' is the operative word and here's the reason for it: You visit an exhibition of really good paintings by contemporary artists, some of whom you may know personally. As you view the work with admiration, appreciation and perhaps, a touch of envy, there is a Deep Dark Voice under it all that murmurs maliciously: "Take a look at this , you little dabbler, here's real art, real talent. Compared to these dynamic creations your work is dull, hollow, amateurish and yes, tentative. You, a painter? What an illusion... you couldn't hold a candle to this work. What games you play!" If you ever meet an artist who tells you that he has never experienced this then he will be less than truthful - do not trust him as he will lie about other things too! So here you are standing on the steps of the gallery - your glass doors are shattered and you have a strong urge to go to your studio to pack things up and to switch off the light forever. When this happens (and it will, in other areas of your life too) I have no 'quick-fix' remedies for you, no panacea and I cannot advise how you can refresh yourself from life's cool motivational streams; all I can say is this: The greatest battles you fight will be in the confines of your mind. Your thoughts will govern your actions and if you allow self-doubt and despair to thwart you then be prepared to wallow in the waves of mediocrity. In the Bible, the inspired word of God, Solomon tells us that man is essentially what he thinks. "For as he thinks within himself so he is." (Proverbs 23:7) Sure, it's easy to follow the route of least resistance - most people do - it enables them to sit back and watch things happen. Sade, other painters' artistic achievements can pick you up or put you down. They can make you feel inspired or inferior. You decide - which one is it to be? Before you do, read these words of Eleanor Roosevelt: 'No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent.'

Creatively Yours,
December 1998