I was talking to my sister on the phone the other night and we were discussing the trials and tribulations of raising middle-schoolers. It's a different dynamic than when our kids were toddlers and comes with its own set of problems. I was explaining to her that I found that I was doing better at dealing with conflict with the kids when I stop to think instead of reacting instinctively. "When I remember I'm the mom," I explained, "I am better able to handle things maturely and with authority, instead of stooping to their level." She knew exactly what I was talking about, and only later I started to think about how that principle applies to my art life as well as to my parenting.
It's pretty easy to let emotions take over. One bad painting, a show submission rejected, or an insensitive comment and I can start to feel pretty discouraged. "What am I doing this for?"
I need to stop and think. Remembering the milestones achieved, the many opportunities that have come my way and achievements and awards I've received. The initial highs fade so quickly, and without conscious thought, I can be swept along by whatever emotion I'm feeling, living reflexively instead of intentionally.
Intentional thinking regarding my art life is going to include ideas like this:
- I'm on a journey. Everything that happens is a step along the path. Think of where I was 1, 5, 10 years ago and celebrate how far I've come.
- I am exactly where I need to be.
- Don't force progress. I will take the steps I can to move forward, but I will also enjoy where I am right now.
- My painting is for me, first of all. Others' opinions, praise or criticism are secondary to my own satisfaction in my work.
- Don't get caught up in perceptions of success that involve accolades and awards. What truly satisfies is feeding my soul through painting.
- I am so blessed with everything I have right now. To be able to paint fearlessly, to have everything I've been given (family, home, studio, love). Don't let anything distract me from gratitude for my blessed life.
"Alstromeria Study" watercolour by Angela Fehr A demonstration from my local watercolour classes.