My ten-year-old granddaughter, an aspiring soccer star, told me recently, “If you want people to like you, you have to get good at what you do.” Oddly enough, this simple comment resonated with me. I couldn’t get it out of my head, repeating it to those who would listen. Instead of focusing on what’s going on in the art world, I pretty much needed to concentrate on my own development. I needed to find a new level of excitement to inject into my work to give it that extra something that makes it totally mine.
As a young artist I had full intentions of making a living from my work. I did everything I could to come to the attention of the public by exhibiting in outdoor art shows, mall exhibits and national juried exhibitions. Since selling art was my ultimate goal, my work lost much of its originality. You might say, I played it safe producing what I knew would appeal to the buyers. I realize now, no aspiring artist should ever put themselves into a mold if they want to stay original.
With age comes different priorities. I have fewer distractions now with a new fearlessness about taking risks. I know the rules, but I’m not ruled by them. This was actually the hardest part for me. It means giving myself the permission to fail, if that’s what it takes to have a breakthrough.
So when I think of my granddaughter’s comment about becoming the best at what I do, I won’t fool myself in thinking this will be easy. It requires a fearlessness, an ability to take risks at the cost of sometimes not getting it right. And most of all, I need to continue pushing past my comfort zone and allow myself to expand my vision.