The theme for January at the BeZine is Parents and Parenting. It took me reaching adulthood to realize how lucky I am to have an artistic, creative mother. I imagine that all parents strive to teach their children important life lessons, but mine often came in the form of constructive examples through watching my mom create or by listening to her wise advice and encouragement. Here are just some of the things I have learned by being blessed as the daughter of an artist*.
- Patience. A good life (and good art) don’t happen overnight. You will make a lot of mistakes in both, and you know what? That’s okay. You have to be patient and allow yourself (and your art) time to evolve, time to develop into what you (and your art) are going to be. Da Vinci didn’t become a master by trying a few times and then calling it “good”. It took many years, so be patient and keep learning, keep striving.
- Waste not, want not – Reuse and share when you can. This applies to a lot more than just art supplies. We live in a world with finite resources and there are so many people out there who have nothing. Appreciate what you have and do as much as you can with what you have been given. Even better, if you come across someone else struggling because they don’t have enough, share and make their lives better, too.
- My mom taught art and ran two galleries for over twenty years at the local university. At the end of each semester, there were always extra art materials that students had left behind. Each semester, she would put together an “art box” of supplies and inevitably, there would always be a student who couldn’t afford supplies for class. That student ended up with the “box”, and the caveat to “pay it forward” if they were able.
- Never give up! Mistakes will happen, you will face challenges that can knock you so far down that you think you’ll never be able to get back up again. But don’t let that stop you and don’t give up! Use adversity as a catalyst to make yourself (and your art) better than ever…learn where you went wrong and make the next time better.
- Nature as inspiration. My mom will be the first to tell you (if you ask) that the absolute greatest artist that ever was, is God. The Divine Creator has made perfection in everything around us. We can find the Golden Mean everywhere in nature and if you’re looking for artistic inspiration, go out into the woods or find a quiet spot out in the natural world – you’re bound to discover something to awe and/or motivate you.
- Confidence. In art, as in life, “everyone’s a critic”. The only person you have to compare yourself to and be better than, is the person you were yesterday. By the same token, the only person you have to make happy is yourself. So be kind to yourself and have faith that you can become whoever you dream about being.
- Learn to accept constructive criticism. Along with confidence, you also need a healthy dose of humility for balance. Those who truly care about you will sometimes give you constructive criticism…because they care. Learn to recognize when someone who cares about you has your best interests at heart and understand that an outside perspective can have merit. Being defensive may be an automatic response, but none of us are perfect; we can all improve in some way(s).
- Follow your heart. Passion is the lifeblood of art…and the spice of life. Never allow your life to become so stagnant or jaded that you lose your passion. It’s equally important that you don’t kill your passion by turning it into a drudgery that you feel obligated to perform – i.e. many artistic, creative people find that when they turn their art into a “job”, it loses the passion that made it so special and unique.
- Stay focused, but don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers. In this age of distraction, staying focused on the task at hand can be difficult. In order to be successful (in art as well as life), you need to be able to stay focused on your goal(s) and keep working on them until they’re done. Conversely, don’t become so consumed with reaching your goal(s) that you don’t make time to stop and savor the things which make life so sweet. It’s often the little things that enrich our lives to the point of being worthwhile.
My mom taught me all these things and so much more. It was all filtered through a lens of gentle, artistic understanding and insistence that I, her daughter, was undoubtedly her ‘greatest creation’. :) Thanks, Mom. I love you. *(All images are used with the artist’s permission).