“Courageous artist.”

“Your work is intuitive, drawn from the purity of the gift of creativity, which is designed to flow as nature does.”

“Met you on LinkedIn.  One day, I hope to meet you in person, because I think you are beyond talented. Literally, anything you paint is very artistic.”

“Just discovered this Vancouver artist and I’m in love all over again.”

“You’re an undisciplined artist.”

“You’re one helluva Canadian artist Sandy….”

“…It speaks loud and clear, at least to me.  But finding words to translate what it says seems redundant. I mean, I could, but why?  It speaks to the mind, heart, and soul.”

“Superb portfolio…. I have not seen such accomplished watercolour work outside the Tate or Met.”

“A miracle.”

The comments above are some of the words I’ve received on social media from followers of my art.  The go-to reaction, on my part, to all of them has usually been great surprise.  I am surprised by how much the work speaks, how highly it is regarded, and the artistic company people put me in.  It’s also incredibly humbling.

But can you guess which comment was the one I spent the better part of a week getting into proper perspective?  If you’re an artist I know I don’t need to tell you.  In fact, most people will know, from the experience of the editor in their own heads, which comment it was.  Crazy how you can get all that support, encouragement and affirmation, and yet one negative comment can send you into a tailspin.  It doesn’t even matter how stupidly unfounded the comment was.  And it doesn’t matter a whit that the person who said it doesn’t know you at all.  But there it sits.  Stewing in your brain and refusing to budge.

 After a few choice words, spoken with feeling, to no one but myself, and a dose of perspective from a trusted friend, my headspace is back where it belongs.  But sheesh, do we ever get over this garbage?

It seems to me that it’s the old words playing in our head, going as far back as childhood, when parents got critical and kids got mean, that require constant work.  I mean, if I’m going to do this thing, this totally risky venture of being a career artist, I’ve got to believe in myself, work my butt off, and ignore the naysayers.

I’ve gotten to the point now where I’ve been in it alone long enough to realize that the good words have to come primarily from myself.  And they do often enough, so much so that I can actually start agreeing with many of the great things people are saying about my work, and sift out the unfounded criticism.  There has been constructive criticism too, and it has to be heard and acted upon.  But constructive criticism feels different than unkind or pseudo-intellectual criticism.  When you finally get an honest handle on what your gifts are, what you can and can’t do, it becomes amazingly easy to sluff off the mean-spirited remarks and the gratuitous compliments.

Getting a healthy, balanced perspective on you is wonderfully freeing.  It allows you to create in an atmosphere free of worry and trepidation, and instead full of vision, focus and hope.   The studio is the one place I know for sure I am completely myself, and the place where the only voice I am listening to and following is my own.  And she’s more than okay.  So I hear….