Dear Rie,

Recently I have had a hard time focusing on painting and when I go to my painting area I feel down. I see other people’s work and get depressed. Can you help me? -SullenPainter

Dear SullenPainter,

About people’s painting, as a friend, as a fan, as a fellow painter. It’s unique, it’s raw, it always shows emotion. It’s yours. You can listen to criticism, ignore it! Go and do the exact opposite. Forget other people, and paint what you like; paint your style.

From me, as a person who has zip for self esteem and negative confidence in my painting ability…. at the end of the day when you put your brush down,  you should feel that you did something cool. It might not be your favorite model, paint job, finished product, etc… but it’s done, which is the best color anything can be. Your client and friends will love it, that’s why they seek us out.

The success of others is not necessarily a reflection on our own abilities. Just because someone has a ton of friends or followers does not mean their stuff is magically superior, it usually means they spent time marketing themselves. It’s not whoring themselves out, but more standing on a soapbox and saying “hey I paint, my stuff is cool,  come lookie!”.

Even if their stuff is better, it doesn’t matter. Art is subjective. Unlike Highlander there can’t be only one, there is no simple best. Everyone needs people to look up to, regardless if it’s someone like Jessica Lamb or DaVinci. This is what drives us, gives us purpose.

You are your own harshest critique, but you shouldn’t beat yourself up over the flaws that you’re the only one who sees. Remember no matter how much you get down on yourself, there is always someone out there who looks up to you. Sometimes even if it’s difficult to paint for yourself, paint for them.


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