Art Without Compromise by Wendy Richmond
Chapter 3: "Life Support"
section 1: "First Accept No Harm"
Psychologically, being an artist is about as easy as climbing Mt. Everest without prior experience and little to no assistance. There are too many ways to easily slip and fall. There are too few people at that altitude to urge us on. There are too many doubts in our own heads about whether or not we can complete the climb. And yet, there is something exhiliarating about it. Chapter 3 of Richmond's book adresses an artist's psychological battle and is timely for this artist because it's been a very long winter in the studio battling my way into another series of paintings.
Section 1, "First Accept No Harm," begins with an examination of the importance of support and the impact of the lack of support on our psyche. For the latter, Richmond names the ways:
- criticisms that are doled out lightly but cripple our passion
- negligence that leaves a prolonged bitterness
- people who take advantage of us
- self-serving advice given by a loved/trusted one
- blame for not doing enough
- society's general indifference
- and, America's attitude that undervalues art as a serious profession
All of this erodes our confidence and inhibits our creativity, sometimes on a daily basis. What's the remedy for the artist? Richmond advises us to be "clear about what you want and hope for: to declare, defend, and pursue what you want. Sometimes this means identifying that which holds you back, and seeing how insidious lack of support, in all its guises, can be." She observes that we artists are most vulnerable when our passion and hopes to do good work are great. I agree, and think that it's at those times that creativity is squelched if we're not careful. The author gives more advice: "When I try to figure out, and then try to do, what someone else wants, I fail. But, when I focus on what I want and how I want to do it, I succeed." Her title First Accept No Harm should be conspicuously posted on every artist's studio wall!