When your family lets you down

What do you do when your family lets you down?

I just finished reading a post by a young artist, who was hurt and confused about the reaction her father had to her gift of art. There was a lack of any sort of .. anything. no appreciation, no happiness, she might as well have passed him the salt at the dinner table. And how I felt what they expressed. It opened old wounds, stings of moments where I had been so proud and turned to a family member, only to be shot down.

Has that happened to you? It's happened to me, more times than I care to count and it hurts every single time.

The thing is... we all crave our family's approval. These are the people who raised us, who gave us life, who grew up with us, who shared a life with us, who helped shape who we are as people, the good and bad. And deep down we want some kind of kudos from them. some pride in what we've accomplished. The stronger that need is, however, the deeper it will affect your work and your growth as an artist.

One of the hardest things I have ever had to do, was say.. my art is good enough for me, and that's all I need. it's not easy to convince your mind and heart that what you do is for your own happiness, but at the end of the day it's something every artist should learn. To draw something, or paint something, and look at it and go.. this is pretty great. I like this picture, I'm glad I painted it. Then to simply accept that there are people who's good opinion I crave, and who cannot give me what I want. So.. I change what I want.

I'd like it if you all did a little exercise with me. look at each piece you've done, and find the parts you like best about it. even pieces you HATE.. there's something you like. Be it the concept, or the flow of a single hair. Just take a moment out of your day to really bask in the enjoyment of that part that you like. Focus only on it, really think about how it felt to lay out that line, or come up with that composition. indulge yourself in just being proud of you. Do this with every single painting you do, hell do it in the middle of a painting. Make a habit of it. You're working and hot damn you got that eye just right. Stop what you're doing and just BASK in that feeling, right when it hits you.

You are pretty great. Look at what you're accomplishing. You are a creator, you are magic itself. You are the thing that touches the soul, that evokes emotion. You are the doorway to that font of imagination that every person wants to experience. You are amazing. YOU did this. You created this. No one held your hand or forced you to create. You did it. This is your own personal journey that only you can walk.

The world can be harsh, people can be cruel, and we don't always have the loving family that we wish we had. Our job as artists is not to harden ourselves to the world. It's not to become to thick and calloused that we no longer feel. It's to experience everything, pain and love, pure joy and total sorrow... and have the confidence to express it in our own unique way. The strength to open the door to that world of imagination and allow people a glimpse, just a glimpse, of wonder.

Sometimes the only way forwards, is to accept the things we cannot change, and to put them aside as no longer necessary in our journey. We don't need our family's approval to be artists, to follow our dreams. remember that. Your strength and skill comes from your own determination and persued interest. so as they say.. follow your dreams, to hell with what anyone else thinks.


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