This post is by guest author, Donald Fox. This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here. We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community. If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 16,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites. This author's views are entirely his own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.
Today a student came into the library where I work and greeted me by name. I responded, “How’s it going?”
He replied, “Tryin’ to make it.”
On his way out, I asked him, “If you’re trying to make it, how will you know when you’ve succeeded?”
He shrugged, threw up his hands, and said, “That’s what I’m tryin’ to figure out.”
This kind of light and inconsequential dialogue, used mainly to express friendliness and sociability, takes place dozens of times a day. We all make small conversations and banter with a variety of clichés and hardly give a thought to what we may be truly saying, or not saying for that matter.
We know the variations of response to the questions what are you up to or what are you working on? “Nothing much,” we might answer. “Same ol’, same ol’,” is another often heard response. Or, when specifically asked about painting, we might say, “My usual stuff,” “A couple of small paintings,” “Nothing groundbreaking,” or its variant, “Nothing earth-shattering.” As flippant as these responses might be – I expect we all can think of many others – we probably rarely think that we aren’t really giving the most positive of messages. Maybe, we might think, we don’t want to reveal too much about the current work until it’s ready. Maybe we don’t want to discuss it with that particular person. Then again, maybe we’re not so sure that we’re actually doing what we should be doing but just don’t want to admit it.
Many personal coaches, productivity advisers, and some teachers stress the importance of our use of language to express what is essential to our work and well being. Some of them take this to the level of thought, which is reflective of a larger mindset of success or failure. In the simplest of terms, are the thoughts positive or negative? Are verbal expressions formed in positive or negative language? Do we focus on the positive results that move us forward, or do we get trapped in the negative results that hold us back?
In the reality of everyday life, it isn’t likely that everything is going to be a positive experience. We may even feel negatively about people or circumstances, but, regardless of our feelings, we are at choice about what we think and about how we choose to respond. Someone once said that experience isn’t what happens to you but what you do with what happens to you. The response can make a huge difference in the outcome. Therefore, how we think about our work, our painting or art making, can have a powerful influence on the result that we create in our work. Of course it is important to continue practicing and learning, and, yes, we do learn from mistakes. Many mistakes, however, come from a negative mindset, and these mistakes, because they are usually redundant, are rarely ones that we learn from. We certainly don’t look to bad art for inspiration, so why would we continue to think bad thoughts, those that do not serve to move us forward?
We can make choices that help us improve and that keep us progressing. This takes a certain amount of discipline, but with a little practice we can create the habit of thinking in positive ways about what we do. Self-awareness is required along with the willingness to be honest about where we are and where we are going. Creating a supportive community is helpful as well, even if only one other person. We critique our paintings in order to make them better. Likewise, we can critique our thoughts as a way of clearing from the inside out.
Editor's Note: You can view Donald's original post here.