This Post is by Daniel J. Keys, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Find out how you can be a guest author.
So, a friend of mine finds a strange looking egg while taking one of his daily walks not long ago. After viewing the egg down at his feet - and wondering how it escaped it's nest and landed right in the middle of the trail he frequented - he came to the conclusion that it was an abandoned duck egg; and of course being the animal lover that he is, decided to make an attempt at hatching the egg by placing it in a nest located in one of the many chicken coops that sit on his vast property.
After much anticipation, the egg began to crack open and a beautifully adorable little duckling (let's call him "Bob the Duck") emerged much to the delight of said friend and his family.
So now, here we have Bob the Duck: New to the world around him, but happy as can be to find himself in such a seemingly wonderful place. Fed the finest feed everyday, safety from harmful predators, and an immense amount of fine feathered friends (all chickens); Bob felt that he had it made. In fact, Bob's fellow poultry companions were so kind to him that he considered them all as his family - and after long he assumed that he too was a chicken.
However wonderful a situation Bob the Duck now found himself to be in, there was still a problem: He was not a chicken, and even though he acted as though he were (he bobbed his head while picking up seed from the ground and flapped his wings but didn't attempt flying while amongst his friends), Bob was in fact a duck who was capable of much more then he realized; but he would never reach his potential while living in that chicken coop.
You see, Bob the Duck was destined to fly, but he couldn't learn how to reach these new heights by hanging around those he knew would never get off the ground.
Learning from Bob's example
The same holds true for you and me: We must consider our friends and companions wisely, and take into account that the right connections can further us, and our careers, beyond what we could have ever dreamed; and the wrong connections can keep us at ground level for the rest of our lives.
Make right connections.
When I say make right connections, I mean nurture the love for what you do by connecting with those who feel similarly about it. While I have many un-artistic friends that I adore spending time with, I also have come to realize the importance of belonging to a group of like-minded people who understand my passion (painting), and have similar goals and ideas.
Why is connecting to like-minded people so important?
If you're a duck and you spend all of your time with chickens you'll never learn to fly - or you may learn to fly, but never do so because no one can understand your need for it, and you'll be talked right out of reaching your potential every time.
Go get a "real" job!
This remark gets me heated (and I'll watch how I approach responding to it in this article), but if you haven't heard that one yet as an artist, brace yourself... it's coming.
Without an artistic cell in their brains, people (who probably mean well I'm sure) will make derogatory comments like that to you all the time - but it's not their fault really. They just don't get it, and that's okay. We can't all be the same (can you imagine how boring it would be if we were?!)
Get over it, and stay focused!
Guess what? As people make comments like that to you, it can ? and will - become like "water off of a duck's back", when you realize that what makes you different, can also give you the ability to soar.
Don't let "chickens" talk you out of seeing your dreams come to pass just because they don't understand what it is you're after. They don't see what you see, and they're probably not going to - that is, until you've actually reached those goals and dreams.
Surround yourself with fellow ducks!
Our fellow artists will understand us, because they're after the same end results.
It's true what they say: "There's strength in numbers"; and "A three-fold cord is not easily broken".
Join art related forums; start your own painting groups - or join an already existing one; attend workshops and make new artists friends. Get out there, and let it be known who you are and what you're after, and I guarantee, you'll make invaluable connections that will take you to new heights.
A happy ending
So whatever happened to Bob the Duck you may be asking? Well, my friend realized that he needed to expose Bob to other ducks by taking him to the pond and introducing him to those who'd encourage him to be who he was actually meant to be. After long, Bob adapted to his new habitat, met a beautiful female duck, and the rest is history. I'm sure that Bob is now happier than ever producing his own ducklings. ;)
Start stretching those wings baby, it's time to fly
By making an effort to make good connections, we allow room to be made for ourselves in the art community - and will eventually find ourselves that much closer to our desired goals, whatever they may be.
An added plus to all of this: Not only will we be reaching new heights for ourselves, but as part of a group we'll be helping others reach their goals - and potentially inspire an entirely new generation of artists to follow the path that was laid out for them! Isn't that an exciting concept?
All the best,