Updated date:

Creatives Overcoming the Negative Voices

Denise has been studying and teaching art and painting for 40+ years. She has won numerous prestigious awards for her art and design.

Nothing scarier for an artist.

Nothing scarier for an artist.

The Artist’s Dilemma

Recently I asked my friends a few questions about their struggles and what breaks their hearts concerning their creative endeavors. One person’s answer was so thoughtful that it struck a chord with me.

Hmong New Year

Hmong New Year

Not Good Enough

Lysa: I feel like I’m not good enough; I get excited and want to try something new and start to get into it, but then I see lots of other people that do it better. I’m in the process of stopping that thinking; because there’s always going to be someone better at something- they just have more practice/experience. Aaand then I stop myself again because I think ‘why continue my crappy work when no one will like/buy it because of all the other good work others do? I’m wasting time and money by doing something that won’t get any return.’ Aaand theeeen I stop myself again because those aren’t my thoughts, they come from society and (sadly) my own mom. It’s a lot of back and forth, but it’s because of a lot of pressure as a kid to ‘do things a certain way,’ basically get a desk job because ‘art’ isn’t a job and doesn’t ‘guarantee’ income. I’ve lost the motivation to pursue quite a few artistic dreams because of this and even in hobby art I don’t do much anymore.

We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves.

— Galileo Galilei

Friends and family collage

Friends and family collage

My Fight

Argh! This is the very thing I’ve been fighting for decades. My stupid mistake/escape from my father’s voice that ‘art isn’t a job’ was marriage. And l can tell you that didn’t go very well. He was abusive and violent. He beat me for 4 years 2 months and 28 days until I grabbed my babies and ran away. He said he would support me and my art but he didn’t mean it. Mostly he was jealous of the time I wanted to spend on it.

Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.

— Norman Vincent Peale

My cousin, twice removed, Jessie

My cousin, twice removed, Jessie

My step-daughter

My step-daughter

Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.

— Wayne Dyer

To Thine Own Self Be True

You must be true to yourself and no one else. No other voice matters. At the end of the day, you have to sleep with yourself inside your own skin. You cannot be happy listening to everyone else tell you what is best for you unless you agree that it is.

Savage Chickens

I came across Doug Savage quite by accident on the Internet one day. His story and his cartoon series called Savage Chickens is creative and hilarious. He listened to the voices and got a “real job” working in a corporation but hated it until he started creating rude chicken art on yellow sticky notes. The sticky notes got circulated around the office and his coworkers wanted more. It became an artistic outlet for him stuck in his 9 to 5. Most of the scenarios come from his disdain of his job and his humorous take on throwing in the towel. The job forced him to create and his creations are about his disdain for the job.

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.

— Maya Angelou

Collage of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Collage of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Pregnant

An artist who denies his art is like a pregnant woman. You can deny it just so long and eventually you will feel the labor pains come upon you. Even those you can ignore for a while but not long. It is going to come out of you. The art will emerge one way or another. It has to.

My granddaughter Anika

My granddaughter Anika

Art is meant to disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.

— Unknown

Someone Better

Comparing ourselves with others impairs us. It is true that there will always be someone better, more experienced, more talented even than you are. But we artists have been deceived into thinking of art as a manufactured process with perfection as the goal. We are not machines and perfection is not possible. We are all individuals with our own focus and background. Each of us sees the world in his/her own way, and the total accumulation of your years and experiences color the way you express yourself on the canvas or in photography or music or writing. Whether you see someone’s work you admire and wish you could do, you must remember, you will never do exactly what he/she does because you have different experiences and a different point of view. All you can do is be the best YOU that you can be.

No one else who ever lived or ever will looks exactly like you, has your fingerprints, thinks exactly like you, or can create exactly like you. You are unique and original. Therefore all your art is unique and original. It is your voice, your fingerprint. Express yourself. No one else can do it for you or as well as you.

That has been my favorite saying. I want to better (as a person, as an artist) that the person I was yesterday. If I work on that, I can’t go wrong.

You might not make it to the top, but if you are doing what you love, there is much more happiness there than being rich or famous.

— Tony Hawk

My grandfather collage.

My grandfather collage.

Selling Your Work

It will forever be an enigma to me what people buy and why. I can’t understand why folks buy one thing over another, why this sells and that doesn’t. Saying that you are wasting your time exercising your gifting is counterproductive. Why did millions of people buy pet rocks? Why did people buy T-shirts with a yellow smiling circle on it? You never know what will sell. Keep working and you may hit on the next fad.

My granddaughter Jassy

My granddaughter Jassy

Before a child talks they sing. Before they write they draw. As soon as they stand they dance. Art is fundamental to human expression.

— Phylicia Rashad

Final Thoughts

You should be doing your art for the sake of the joy of it. The secondary plus is when it sells. Art is therapeutic and uplifting first for the artist and then for the beholder. We shouldn’t be thinking of the expense, although I know we always do. Try to put that out of your mind because let's face it, you are going to spend money on something. Hobbies, sports, recreations, décor, gifts. You will be spending your extra income on something. Why not budget some for your art and make space for your creations to be spontaneous?

I’d love to hear any thoughts or suggestions you may have for my friend in the comments below. What would you tell her to encourage her?

Comments

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on December 09, 2019:

Devika Primić,

I get concerned that people get tired of hearing about it, but it is what I know best and what I love. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on December 09, 2019:

Hi Denise great work and best to write of what you know as you do I admire that.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 29, 2019:

Lora Hollings,

You said it well, the sheer joy is the true goal. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Lora Hollings on November 28, 2019:

Such a good article on what we need to focus on and do something just because we enjoy it! We need to focus on the process not the outcome. Doing something for the sheer joy of it rather than seeking a reward is really what's all about. Great article about realizing what art or any hobby can do for us and that's really what matters. It offers diversion from the routine, it's therapeutic, and it gives us a goal to try to improve our skills. Another bonus is it keeps our minds in good shape as we are learning new skills! Happy Thanksgiving.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 28, 2019:

Devika Primić,

Thank you very much. I do like to work it as well as I can and with interesting information that I know something about. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on November 28, 2019:

You spend lots of time in your hubs and present it to perfection

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 09, 2019:

Nikki Khan,

Good advice. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Nikki Khan from London on November 08, 2019:

Excellent work of art Denise!

To your friend, I would say, work, work, and work until you achieve your goals.

Blessings my dear!

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 07, 2019:

Hari Prasad S,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 07, 2019:

Linda Crampton,

I'm so glad you like my work. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 07, 2019:

Lynne Samuel,

I'm sorry you struggle with the negative voices too. It's a hard thing to ignore but you can if you try. Thanks for the kind words and for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 07, 2019:

Dora Weithers,

My dear friend, I intend to stay in the game and keep creating even if no one likes my work. However, I'm so gratified that you and so many others DO like my work. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 07, 2019:

Linda Lum,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me too. I believe I am unique as God made me and you too. I like that term, analysis paralysis. Can I borrow that? Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 07, 2019:

Bill Holland,

Thank you. You are a peach. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 07, 2019:

Eric Dierker,

I'm so happy you can appreciate my art and I appreciate your work too. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on November 07, 2019:

Back to contemplate and grow.

Hari Prasad S from Bangalore on November 07, 2019:

Excellent thoughts. Bookmarking and sharing.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on November 06, 2019:

I'm sorry about the personal experience that you've described, Denise. This is a very encouraging article for artists and for other creative people. Thank you for sharing the encouragement as well as your lovely creations.

Lynne Samuel from Malaysia on November 06, 2019:

I'm sorry about your father, but I admire that you stay true to yourself. Your art is exceptional, and I'm not hjust saying it. It catches the eye and peak interest. Do carry on.

I also struggle daily with negativity, and thinking there's no place for my writings when there are others obviously so much better at it. But there is a place for everyone, especially those who only wants to share something good and improve their works. Thank you, great article.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on November 06, 2019:

You art is exceptional, and that's from me. I appreciate you for sharing your struggle against negative voices. Sometimes I talk back to them, letting them know that I referee my own game. Despite their call, I keep batting as long as I want to. Stay in the game!

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on November 06, 2019:

Denise, my younger daughter refers to this malady as analysis paralysis. We get so caught up in the what-ifs that we become riveted in place.

But God tells us that "You are uniquely and wonderfully made." He knew from the beginning of time that He wanted you to exist. Despite the sins you would commit and the mistakes you would make, He made you because He loved you that much. When you think of it that way, then you recognize that you can and should move on.

Thank you for sharing your gift and your thoughts and yourself with us here. Blessings on your day.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 06, 2019:

One word: beautiful!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on November 06, 2019:

Wonderfully done. You have me where I was with poetry. 2 years ago. "I could not write or create it". Hmm "I cannot do visual art." Hmm.

I even did a duet with my elder son.

You have me really thinking here. Thank you. You may find this interesting - "The War of Art" about resistance. I really enjoyed it.Steven Pressfield.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on November 05, 2019:

Peggy Woods,

Awesome. Do you travel the circuit or just the local fairs and craft shows? I hope you do well. Thanks for commenting and liking my collages.

Blessings,

Denise

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 05, 2019:

I think that you said it all. Art is therapeutic and individual to everyone who creates it. Finding the right places to sell it can sometimes be a challenge. Your collage art is truly beautiful! You have a real talent! I'll be hopefully selling some of my art in an upcoming arts and crafts festival.