If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. — Vincent Van Gogh
I must say, this quote appeals to my inner orneriness! After many years of stubbornly making art, I don’t hear this voice much anymore (see, it works!), though it has affected the direction of my work in the past from time to time, when I have heeded it. The voice doesn’t have to come from within, either; so many times our insecurities about our work are rooted in what other people say to us about it.
You all know the self-appointed critics. They are with us from childhood, telling us we cannot sing, or our drawings will never be any good, or we look silly when we dance. Or they say, “what use is this thing you’re doing? Get a real job!” To them I say, “who are you to tell me not to do what feeds my soul?”
I teach adult and seniors art workshops at a local recreation centre. I’ve had so many students who tell me that some teacher or classmate told them they couldn’t draw, and so they stopped, and held in all that glorious creativity, until at last, maybe as late as their retirement, they thought they “might try a little art”. They are tentative at first, remembering that ancient injury, but as they lay their hands on the tools and watch the colours and shapes flow, they blossom. All that’s needed is encouragement.
I wish I had a time machine so I could go back and save each young budding artist from the years of sterile dormancy! In my fantasies this usually involves slapping silly the adult/child who told them that, though I am not normally a violent person…
I’ve never tried putting a video on this blog before, so I’m giving it a try with the one that inspired this rant. Watch it full screen. This is from our local (British Columbia) art store chain, Opus, which I have mentioned many times. I like them not only because it is Artist-Nirvana to wander through their store, but because of their active support of the artist community and creativity in general. The staff is all artists, and just going to the store to shop is sometimes like going to an artist party!
If you liked that video, they have a whole series of them with different artists at this link.