Each year around this time we focus on being grateful. This year, I'd like to center our thoughts on being grateful for the people that enable us to do what we love.
You might say, "Well, I am thankful for my spouse, kids, etc.", but they're not the only ones you should include. I won't bore you with cliches involving ripples in a pond or anything like that - but I do want you to stop and think about just how many people influence you and your art.
We often revere old masters for their amazing works - and rightly so. These men and women pushed boundaries and paved the way for future generations. We also get the added benefit of being able to learn from their mistakes.
But it's not just the masters we should think about.
How many friends, colleagues, and mentors do we have? How broad is our access to really, really great art, supplies, education, and venues? Rarely do any of us make the journey truly alone...it may feel like it sometimes, but forging connections and building networks is easier now than ever.
But there's still more.
How can we be grateful for people and opportunities that aren't here yet? We need to keep our hearts and minds open to the possibilities. We need to be thankful for the gift of a future and though there are no promises made - at least we're given the chance. A chance to right the wrongs, learn new things, and share more art.
Who else should we be thankful for?
We need to be grateful for all that have taught and encouraged, pushed and congratulated. Seems obvious, but it's really easy to take those people for granted. What about the person that works a full time job all week and then goes to volunteer at the museum on the weekends? Or the tradesperson that wakes up before dawn to go to a factory that manufactures your favorite brush, chisel, or textile? Or the loyal reader of your blog that comments often - even though they're not sure you'll notice?
Have we thought of everyone?
Hmmm. Admittedly, this group of folks sure make it a lot harder to be grateful but they play a role in shaping our lives, too. What about the professor that said you had no talent? Or the juror that rejected your masterpiece? Or that gallery that you can't seem to get into? Are you thankful for them? Has their opinion given you the willpower and resolve to push yourself farther than you've ever been? Are you grateful that they made you seek out other, probably better, opportunities?
From the masters that inspire to the spouse that works a job they hate to help support us - we have a lot of people helping us live our dream. If you can think of even one person that helps you or plays even the tiniest role in making your art a reality, you should let them know their efforts aren't going unnoticed. Don't be embarrassed or too full of pride to say thanks - it may be the only opportunity you get. So say it today.
How you say it is up to you - just be sure you say it.
Newsletters and blogs are a great venue for those that appreciate your art and make the effort to keep up with you. Cards and letters are even better - far more personal. And for those that play key roles - call them. Or better yet, tell them face to face how much their support means to you. They won't forget and you can bet your bottom dollar they'll be happy to know they haven't been wrong in placing their faith in you.
As I write this post for a publication founded by a genius that was inspired by an icon - I'm thankful. I'm thankful for all the work our team puts into making this a fantastic, beneficial resource. I'm especially grateful for our readers. Your support makes us better and your art enriches our lives.
Clint, Carrie, Padgett, Jennifer, Lisa, Doug, Marsha, Tami, Brian and Gayle