Okay, just between you and me, have you been doing art in the privacy of your own home? Do you take online classes then submitted your completed classwork for instructor feedback? Have you gotten brave and posted your art projects on social media? Do you wait with anxious anticipation for someone to comment about how they like your work?
I won’t deny that knowing a total stranger happened across my work online and it got them to stop long enough to acknowledge it is pretty darn amazing. Then to think that that stranger took a closer look at my Instagram posts and decided to follow me . . . oh happy day.
Thinking back over my Instagram lifespan, I can admit that (thankfully) no one has left a comment on any of my posts that was negative. I’ve been blessed with plenty of positive comments that I realize now I had interpreted as validation of my art skills. That wasn’t all bad as It motivated me to want to do more. And that is exactly what I kept doing. I colored, I posted my work and people kept giving me thumbs up, hearts and more positive comments. I loved it—who wouldn’t?! So there I was coloring even more projects. I colored, colored, and colored again. I was stuck on my own little hamster wheel of coloring.
I woke up one day and asked myself why do I rush each morning to see if anyone liked my latest project post? If they didn’t like it, what was that telling me, was it my art, my style, the subject that was bad? If they did like it, what did that really mean—that I’m talented, the image was fun, the colors caught their eye? One question after the other and then it hit me, who am I doing this art for, me or total strangers I’ve never met? Which of course led to me asking myself why am I doing this art anyway? Is it because I love the process or for the validation from total strangers?
Asking myself these questions made me be honest about something else. Even though I’ve been turning out a large body of work I was no longer developing my art skills. Clearly I had reached a plateau as It seemed that the response to my work had become more important than the creative process itself. That is why I decided it was time to get my focus back on the physical process of creating my art. It was time to push myself out of the comfort zone I had settled into. To do so I looked for online classes that inspired me. I enrolled in a few classes. One was so far over my head, but I dug in and really worked my way through it. I was experiencing the rewards of overcoming new challenges and was creating again just for the joys of creating.
Recently I started to dabble with my watercolors again (I say again loosely as Idid a few Anna Mason projects a few years ago). That meant more online class research. One thing led to another and now I’m even out of my comfort zone as I am developing a few new skills with my digital art.
The result of all of this is that I’m excited about the process I go through when creating my art again and I am not feeling like I need to post everything I do to see how many likes I get or being depressed when I didn’t get as many as I would have thought I should. I now understand that responses on social media don’t validate my art skills. It simply means that someone browsing through my online gallery liked something they saw. Even if they leave me a positive comment, it shouldn’t be construed as constructive criticism. For that I need to go back to my instructor who knows what I’m working on and can help keep me on the right track or ask for targeted feedback from my creative community.
Art posts shared on social media are a great source of inspiration and motivation. So, I continue to post my projects on Instagram more as a thank you to others that have inspired me to keep going, a type of artistic paying it forward I suppose. Most importantly, I don’t let it validate my work or let the lack of “likes” to rob me of the joy I get while being creative.
On that note, I think it’s time I leave the keyboard now and go start creating today!
What's happening in the Corner . . .
Did you make a New Year's resolution to put coloring back into your life? But now you aren't sure where to start? Why not join with fellow colorers as we focus our attention on creating more realism in our projects as we put the "value" of color into our practice as we start the new year.
If you are reading this after we moved on to the next technique, you can find the Work-at-Your-Own-Pace Practice for Value here.
You can see more of my work or follow me on Instagram.