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A Movie Quote to Get You Moving

by Luann Udell on 4/26/2012 10:07:02 AM

This post is by Luann Udell, regular contributing author for FineArtViews.  Luann also writes a column ("Craft Matters") for The Crafts Report magazine (a monthly business resource for the crafts professional) where she explores the funnier side of her life in craft.  She's a double-juried member of the prestigious League of New Hampshire Craftsmen (fiber & art jewelry).  Her work has appeared in books, magazines and newspapers across the country and she is a published writer.  She's blogged since 2002 about the business side--and the spiritual inside--of art.  She says, "I share my experiences so you won't have to make ALL the same mistakes I did...."You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.


It’s not always the case that a family movie gives you a foundation for the rest of your life, let alone a mantra to boost your art career.  “There’s no place like home” doesn’t cut it, nor does “Go ahead, make my day.”  (Although, to be fair, the latter didn’t come from a family movie…)


Last night we watched We Bought A Zoo, starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson.  It’s a predictable but engaging family film, based on a true story by Benjamin Mee.


In one beautiful scene, Damon is speaking to his teenage son, encouraging him to talk to the girl of his dreams.  “You know,” he says fiercely, “Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage.  Just literally twenty seconds of just…embarrassing bravery.  And I promise you, something great will come of it.”


Something great will come of it…


There come times in everyone’s life when things just seem too hard.  Especially for those of us at work in a culture were art is considered a luxury, where  people are more willing to invest money in the latest high-tech gadget than an object of beauty, or a landscape, or a portrait of their children or even a simple handmade mug.


There comes a time where it just seems too hard to do another show, to face another windy rainstorm at an art festival.  Too hard to master yet another social medium in order to promote our work; to approach yet another gallery that will probably say no; to apply for yet another exhibition.


At some point, it just seems easier to settle for what we know will work; to stick with the techniques we’ve already mastered; to answer every challenge with a heart-heavy “I tried that once and it didn’t work.”


What if all it took were twenty seconds of insane courage?


What if we said to ourselves every day, “Well…okay.  Maybe I could try something different for 20 seconds….” 


Changing our style, challenging our audience with new work, cherishing our work enough to risk one more rejection, trying to get past one more gate keeper saying no…


Just twenty seconds of embarrassing bravery.


Mine for today?  Writing my shortest column for you, ever.


I thought it would be too ironic to write much longer, to make my point about twenty brave seconds.


What would YOU do for your art, today, with your twenty seconds of insane courage?


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Related Posts:

Be an Artist: Donít Settle for the Status Quo

Safe, New and Risky

Replicating vs. Creating

Am I An Artist?

The Message in Your Art

Topics: advice for artists | Art Business | art marketing | creativity | FineArtViews | inspiration | Luann Udell | originality 

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Now that's a good question ... I'm looking forward to seeing what others have to say. I guess it's a case of getting out of your comfort zone.

We have worked at computers for so long in our previous 'corporate' lives, that sitting at a desk is our comfort zone. Thank you for bringing it to my attention - great food for thought (and action of course!)

Barbara Reich
Luann - I think I'll call this "announcement day". Everyone that I run into today or have a conversation with will know I'm an artist and will walk away with one of my business cards. It's not that I don't ever do this, just not a frequently as I could...just saying.
Barb Reich
Pastel Artist

Gutsy Arts Girl
In 20 seconds I could:

leave a voice mail
make a decision
leave a comment
apply a layer of gesso
do a journal prompt writing exercise
take a shot of vodka :-)
stand at the mirror and love the brave girl looking back at me

so many to choose will take my twenty seconds to decide.

George De Chiara
I'm not sure this fits, but lately I've been feeling like I'm being pulled in 100 different directions at once. I noticed when this happens I tend to put things off because I feel to busy to take care of them now. Of course this makes the whole problem worse since these little things tend to pile up. Rather than doing this I'm going to take the 20 seconds (or more) it takes to take care of the current need in front of me. It might be answering an email or something longer like working on a painting. The point is I think if I take care of these things as they come up I won't feel so overwhelmed.

Marian Fortunati
Readying your post made me realize that I rarely do anything insane...
As I read the comments to date... it seems like few of us do.
So far... I'm with George...
But yesterday... I did sign up for a totally insane painting workshop... (I'm first on the waiting list... Guess the others who signed up first didn't think it was that insane to do it.)

These days, the old hippie in me is beginning to believe in karma...

Just after reading this article, I received an email. I look after our local area's website and social media and a man emailed me to ask if I could help promote his new gallery which is opening in June. I did, of course.

When he wrote back to thank me, I replied and added 'by the way, as a new gallery I'm sure you'd be interested in..."

I don't like to mix the various hats I wear - but why not? I certainly wouldn't have done that without this article. It doesn't sound like much but I felt brave!

jack white
General George Patton said, courage is holding on for a few seconds longer. His few seconds could be twenty.

George, sounds like you need make a list of to do thing. In the morning start with the most important and finish that, then begin #2. When that's finished start #3. At the end of the day you will know you finished some of the tings on your list. Don't begin #2 until you complete #1.

Luann, This is my 20 seconds of Insane Courage. I cannot face the embarrassing bravery just yet. Your article brought tears to my eyes this am, and I can't stop thinking about it.

I keep a secret, a big, ugly painful secret. I suffer and I do mean suffer, from recurring major depression. There is no medication that works completely. I know there is supposed to be support and understanding for this, but I don't believe it. The last close friend I shared this with never called again. We had known each other for over two years and had shared many creative ventures.

I had hear the "20 seconds of insane courage" quote before I read your article, but it didn't resonate with me. Now I am beginning to believe that I can be okay for just 20 seconds, and be on my way. Five minutes of courage is beyond me at this point. I am always looking for another way to fight off this horrible disease, and you gave me a wonderful gift today. Thank you.

Donald Fox
The irony is that we all do insane things all the time. How insane is it to keep doing things that are counterproductive or that keep us from doing the things we know we should do? It really takes courage to stop doing self-destructive behavior.

In 20 seconds I could:

leave a voice mail
make a decision
leave a comment
apply a layer of gesso
do a journal prompt writing exercise
take a shot of vodka :-)
stand at the mirror and love the brave girl looking back at me

so many to choose will take my twenty seconds to decide.
So true, I have to love it

Luann Udell
For all of you insane artists, I'm delighted by your comments and inspiration.

Delilah, love the "shot of vodka" moment. :^D

And for Anonymous, and Gutsy Art Girl, I am amazed by your courage and by your indomitable spirit.

Howard Cooperman
For all of my artist friends and the ones I haven't met. From my perspective as a gallery owner, you'll be pleased to know that when I find an artist with exceptional work, sometimes it takes me 20 seconds of insane courage to contact them, in fear of being rejected to represent them.

When I contacted Seward Johnson, an internationally renowned sculptor, to exhibit some of his art, I did it with as much confidence as I could muster up. Not only did he accept my offer to show his work, but I got him to do a panel discussion to boot!

It took a lot of courage on my part, and looking back if I didn't approach him, my gallery wouldn't have his wonderful realistic figurative sculpture outside of my gallery.

Luann - great advice! Hope more artists take advantage of it. My motto - GO FOR IT


Thank you for your comments, Howard. You've reminded me that gallery owners and artists aren't on opposing sides of the coin - we have the same goal, to sell art!

Anonymous, it bothers me that you use the word 'ugly'. Depression must be very painful but it's not shameful and it's not ugly. It's just a medical condition like any other. Stay strong.

A footnote to my comment yesterday about my twenty seconds ... the gallery owner emailed me back and said that the gallery will be featuring one specific artist only. (Wow). But he did invite me to the gallery opening, a sneak preview the week before and to lunch!

Twenty seconds brought me a contact in the art world. Who know where it could go? Now, what should I do today?

Scott Baldassari
Excellent article!

AND short and to the point. :-)

jo allebach
I am going to put 20 seconds on my frig., in the car, on my desk, in on my mirror. Now I just have to do! Thanks so much for making insane bravery or courage such a manageable length of time I that can be done.

I don't usually leave comments on blogs but this was so beautifully put that I felt I had to. It speaks to my soul. Thank you for reminding me why I made this crazy decision to be an artist.

this was meant to be a comment on another blog. See, I said I didn't do this often, LOL!

Cathy de Lorimier
I just wrote it out and posted it on my computer...
~20 seconds of insane courage~
Thanks for this shot in the arm Luann. Sometimes 20 seconds turns into 2 hours or more of an experiment at the easel for me, but at least I'm boldly experimenting. I'll try it again tomorrow!

Shel Markel
Reading Luann's piece about insane courage, I was reminded of the Judy Dench character's closing message in the movie, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" -
"You only fail if you don't try, and success is measured by how you cope with disappointment".


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