I am beginning to wonder if we are spit right out of the womb with the need to compare ourselves to others. Now, I know that isn’t the case, but even in my young 3rd grade students they ask all the time, “Is it good Mrs. Goodwin?” “Is it as pretty as hers?” It stops me in my tracks…cold. Adults do this too, heck, we all do it to some extent, but especially new artists who are just beginning to get their brush wet.
10 years ago when I started to teach myself to paint I wasn’t as involved online as I am now. I didn’t have all the images of beautiful artwork rushing through my stream each day. I can honestly say, I didn’t have the urge to think if it was better than so and so’s or not, I just wanted it to look good. But wanting it to look good was a desire connected to my internal voice of needing to be valued, needing to be significant, needing to know that my effort was worth it.
I can’t say when or how, but at some point I figured out that for me, it wasn’t as much about getting it to look right as it was about the process of making the art. I wish I could share this ability with new artists, and children, so that they could reconnect with just having fun, just making marks, just enjoying the gift of creativity. As a teacher, it gives me a ton to mediate on….to pray about, and to send forward.
This morning, as I started my journal page, the section in this book that I chose to work on was Figurative Painting. “Perspectives on the Arts” was written in 1961 and the very first sentence of the chapter written by Stephen Tillman reads as follows, “Young artists today live with a very strong sense of who is in and who is out.” 53 years ago, in regards to painting and being a professional artist the same stigma applied and it makes me wonder if the cave men felt jealous over who was making the better, bigger, or prettier marks. Comparison steals our joy. It turns those negative voices in our heads on full blast and turns off the ones guiding us on our best path.
Crowns seemed to fit these pages, the figures appeared to be powerful, and the juxtaposition of the two figures picking flowers beside the male figures of prominence gave me a twinge. As the marks flowed I felt inclined to consider how we wear crowns, how we strive to wear other people’s crowns, and what can I do, as a teacher, to help those caught in the vicious cycle of comparison. The concept is complicated, it isn’t easy to solve, but I believe in my heart it must be dealt with. Our true gifts and hearts are worth fighting for.