Lesson Three - Ellen R.

This was a very useful exercise.  It helped me to see that the only real person on my Committee is ME and what I need to do is suspend judgment and “just own it.” (“it” being my art and my process).  It is easier said than done, but this was a start! I wrote myself a letter.  I reminded myself of why I make art in the first place, and why I choose to express myself in woven tapestry. I discovered that a huge problem for me is not fear, but rather feeling guilty and indulgent because I can spend my days just making and not working at a conventional job, one that other people can relate to. So does that make this just a hobby on steroids?  (There is that dreaded “C” word after all.) Only if I let it.  No, this is not my hobby; it is my calling.  And yes, it is both art and craft. They are not mutually exclusive. JUST OWN IT.

Here’s the thing: Do I judge the many artists I admire for devoting themselves to creative activity? (Oh what a Princess she must be!) Of course not. I admire them fully and unconditionally. Their creative output enriches my life greatly – and although I wish I could buy all the pieces I fall in love with, the reality is that I can’t and don’t buy their work – and that fact does not diminish the power of their accomplishment in my eyes. So why should I judge my own creative output so harshly? I reminded myself of the many documented instances where my work has been appreciated by others – and I know there are actually a few people out there who WOULD buy my work if they could. Bottom line: KEEP WORKING. IT’S OK.  I printed these words as large as I could on a piece of paper and posted it in my studio.

I’m so glad you brought up the Noble Friend concept! This was a major paradigm shift for me. Initially, I put my husband on the Committee because he really wants me to work outside the home, even though we do not need the money. Just so I’m “out in the world.” It dawned on me that when I did work, the various positions I held were never quite good enough. My pay was always too low; I worked in the arts, not corporate america! No matter. I was (am) always “selling myself short” in his eyes. I now realize that he is actually my NF – he is truly never going to give me the approval I seek, not because he thinks my work is trivial, but just the opposite – he thinks my work is great, and underappreciated. He believes I have the ability to succeed beyond the fiber art world (my tribe) – maybe a little to much actually. He is pushing me constantly to live up to some impossibly high bar.  Nonetheless, as my NF, he does propel me to do ambitious work. (Gotta earn my studio!)