"If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down. "
~ Mary Pickford
When I write for my blog and newsletter, I begin with a rough draft, or sometimes an outline, and gradually polish it up. Often, what I publish bears little resemblance to the original draft. So it is with this would-be tome on encouragement. I wrote one good line in the original: There is nothing more encouraging than seeing growth in your work.
With that brilliant, if narcissistic, observation out of the way, I really want to write about the encouragement you give to others, and others give to you. I’ve never seen it more needed or so badly neglected. Whatever your work is or isn’t, an encouraging environment fosters faith, ideas and fortitude to deal with this unrelentingly awful economic condition that is not going to improve any time soon.
Encouragement must be, above all, honestly and thoughtfully given to yourself and to others. To send a loved one out the door encouraging them to land that great job today sets them up for a very hard fall. Better to embrace a larger goal of placing and renewing applications day after day as part of a long-term plan. It’s no different with selling paintings: Encourage your artist self (and other artists) to make contacts, develop a currently affordable line, perhaps even functional art, and most of all, to keep growing your skills and ability to interpret life. The other end of encouragement is praise: Praise those things done well.
Be open to alternatives. Paths to goals (or survival) are never straight or predictable. For me, small goals are important in and of themselves because big goals change, and I’m very glad of it. The journey is most important because I often land somewhere other than where I planned. My favorite question is, “If I can have it any way I want, how would it be?” This question allows me to think without restrictions. Apply the question to non-material concepts such as reducing financial stress or generating more excitement in art-making. Make it a game, getting everyone involved. Don’t hurry the answers. It takes time to get to your deeper values.
Talk about the value of encouragement with your family and your art associates. Think about people in your deep past who encouraged you, and what that meant to you. Ask for encouragement if it is not forthcoming when you need it. Give it voluntarily as honestly and frequently as you can.