“You Make It Look So Easy”

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Someone recently said that what I do must be easy for me. That I make it look easy. At first, I laughed as this was so far from the truth. Although their statement was a kind compliment, it has taken almost 3yrs of work to do what I do. No. I take that back. It has taken over 40yrs of experience to get where I am. I am not an expert in my field. Far from it. I am a toddler in a creative sea of PhD students. So many others are geniuses in their art. I have a LOT more to learn. A lifetime more to learn, and I am 100% dedicated to it. To the person that made the statement, I needed to reply with more than a Thank You. It hasn’t been easy. I wrote the following in response:

“I took off 25yrs from art (family, caring for ill relatives, career, homeschooling, owning a business) before picking up a brush at 44yo. Most people think that is too old to start anew. I disagree. I think Life prepares us for where we are right now. Our careers, family issues, moments of frustration and moments of elation have molded us to NOW. I also believe each individual in this world has a gift. It may take a long time to find your gift, but it patiently waits. For those of us here, it is creativity and making the world a more beautiful place.

I’m a firm believer in motivation and encouragement. We all need to be told we are on the right path when self doubt creeps in. Even the great creators in history felt discouraged and questioned themselves. I’m sure DaVinci, Michaelangelo, Rodin, Picasso, and Warhol had days they wanted to just throw down their materials and go for a strong drink, or four. We all feel that sometimes. What is the best way to help yourself when feeling discouraged? LOOK BACK. Looking back on where we started vs. where we are now puts things into perspective. Keep track of your progress over time with photos (or notes, video, etc.). We may feel vulnerable and that we haven’t improved, but our history tells a different story. Hard work and building our style become evident over time.

The world sees where we are NOW, and not the years it has taken to get here. The long hours at the easel, drafting table, keyboard and music stand, the stage under hot lots, or kitchen table have brought us here. We have come so far, and will only improve with each passing day.

My advise? Do NOT compete with other artists out in the world. You will only set yourself up for frustration and never feeling good enough. There will always be someone that you feel you can’t hold a candle to creatively. Always someone more advanced or someone that is on your heels wanting to copy what you do. Become friends with creatives in ALL fields. I know few vehicle artists (as I don’t want to compare or copy their style). I do know many figurative/abstract/landscape/botanical painters, illustrators, sculptors, poets, writers, dancers, musicians, etc. This diverse group of creatives you know will inspire you and transfer some of their energy your way. So, don’t compare/compete with others. Instead, compare/compete with the artist YOU were yesterday. Be better than past YOU.

To my fellow artisans: YOU GOT THIS!”

4 Responses

  1. Lynn
    | Reply

    Shan, I just found your art, as it is close to my art as well. Your work is SPLENDID! Just wanted to say Hi, and keep up the good work! Lynn Garwood

    • Shan
      | Reply

      Thank you so much, Lynn. I took a peek, and I have to say that your work is STUNNING! <3

  2. Laura Tan
    | Reply

    Hello Shan,
    “Ditto!” To Lynn’s comment above and what a nice statement by you (life, time and discovery in your own time); and to avoid comparison w fellow artists–something that can creep in in the process of just browsing to see others’ work. Very clear, nice statement and your incredible work. A new fan here. LAura

    • Shan
      | Reply

      Thank you so much, Laura. I greatly admire and follow many artists through social media and publications. I try not to do this for vehicle artists, as I find myself doubting my abilities or comparing myself to them. Instead, I follow abstract, figurative, still life, and landscape artists. I find inspiration in their works, and that encourages me to improve with my own paintings. There is a lot to be learned from artists in other genres. The greatest thing they’ve taught me? Success takes time, patience, giving back, and hard work 🙂

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