If you’re an artist, you may sometimes find yourself in one of the following situations.
Maybe you enter a juried competition, one of your paintings is accepted for the competition, and, although you discover that you haven’t won a coveted ribbon, you nevertheless attend the gala opening of the exhibition.
Or maybe you attend a large trade show where artist materials of every conceivable sort are displayed and where well-known artists give technique and materials demonstrations, some of which you attend.
Or perhaps you spend a week at the annual or biennial convention of your medium (for example, the biennial International Association of Pastel Societies convention), where you take workshops and get to see the juried and award-winning work of well-known artists.
What are some of the psychological repercussions of attending events of this sort? Typically, there are both powerful positive emotions and powerful negative emotions generated by such attendance. I recently spent four days in Albuquerque in conjunction with presenting the keynote address at the pastel societies convention. I talked with many artists—and here’s what I heard.
As a rule, these artists were inspired by being among other pastel artists who had come from all over the world—China, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, etc.—and who constituted their tribe. Often isolated in their individual studios, they loved the camaraderie, the shared love of the medium of pastel, the excitement of learning about new products, and the sheer fun of the lively events organized throughout the convention.
At the same time, they couldn’t keep themselves from doing a lot of comparing. The juried exhibition that was a featured part of the convention contained one beautiful work after another and it was hard for the less experienced artists and the pros as well not to hear themselves saying, “Wow, that’s better than what I can do!” Many artists told me that they were leaving the convention with very mixed emotions: they felt inspired, on the one hand, and demoralized, on the other.
What ought an artist to do in such situations? Let’s look at five simple tactics for maintaining equilibrium when you find yourself surrounded by talented artists and their excellent works. Those tactics are coming next week! Join me then.
My latest book is Overcoming Your Difficult Family and it has a lot of useful tactics for artists about dealing with stressful family dynamics. Take a look here: