A conversation between me and another artist.

I got message on Facebook the other day in which another artist wrote to me and asked me a question, really a couple of questions, and explained how she felt about her art. I could really relate to what she was asking me.

I wanted to ask you a question again. . . do you ever just feel like you can't make anything? I have all these ideas and when it comes to working on them they flop or I don't think I'm good enough. I don't show my art, I'm not big on selling, commission work or anything like that, i make a lot of art but it never goes anywhere. Have you ever been in this place? I'm having a terrible time seeing the good in what I have made. Just needed another artist's opinion. I hate to bother you, you have so many amazing pieces and it just feels like you have it all figured out. I am lost in the woods!

Here's how I answered:

Yes I feel like you do a lot. I wish I had it all figured out, but, I am in a good place right now and I know, or at least think I know how you might feel.

In terms of making anything good for myself, I've really thought a long time about this and it's only been recently that I feel like I am consistently making good things in the studio. I think my biggest problem was up until about four or five years ago I didn't have enough understanding about anatomy and about drawing even though I taught both of those things at school.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I didn't think I was a very good artists up until about four or five years ago when a couple of things changed for me. First of all, I have spent the last 10 years watching videos that I bought, or got out of the library, or could find on YouTube to learn how to paint better and to learn more about anatomy. I've also focused a lot on painting techniques in educating myself through the library and through watching videos.

The next thing that happened for me was that a friend of mine, he's a florist who I've hired to buy or make an arrangement for my wife once a week, has become one of my very best friends. The friendship began when I started sending him drawings when I would pay the bill.

This friend, who has been in a committed relationship for 30 years or so and started his own business as a florist suggested that I start painting men because I was better at painting men than women and he also felt that I had a better eye for aesthetic images of men than most gay men. In a way, he suggested what could do was to go with my strengths which were human anatomy, men, and my empathy for the gay community. 

So those are my values and their also my strengths in terms of my ability to draw and paint so I guess what happened was I found my comfort zone but I also made sure I educated myself as much as I could through the free resources I could find on the web and in libraries.

So the answer is yes for the first 20 years of my painting career I felt like I was a little bit of fraud and I didn't make very good work and I just feel now like recently I've really hit my stride and I understand how to paint. I've also, taking the leap and quit my full-time job as a professor to pursue making art but also because the environment that I taught and was really kind of bad.

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