It's encouragement (or lack of) that's so important to our wellbeing. We all need encouragement, don’t we? And that’s partly why we enjoy working as with luck we get praise and thanks, hopefully from our employer or clients as well as by way of the pay cheque.
But I was thinking about Vincent Van Gogh just now and remembered how at art college I was dismayed to learn about so many other artists who are also revered today but despite being talented, suffered from chronic or recurrent depression.
‘I wonder why Vincent would get so depressed,’ I thought, as I get so much happiness from my painting and writing. ‘He was a brilliant, assured painter and knew it. OK, he hardly sold anything if at all, but he could paint to his heart’s delight and live comfortably as his brother was always an encouraging and generous benefactor so he didn’t need to earn a living as most of us do.’
I've had a great start to the year with four paintings going to good homes this week. But now it's gone quiet and it can be upsetting when we hit a quiet patch with nothing selling and I know too many artists who’ve given up because of such a lull. It’s so easy to think you’ve lost your mojo, or worry you’re not much good. Once when I was despondent a friend in retail said “Jenny – it’s just like a shop. Sometimes people come in and see what you’re selling. Sometimes no one does. Sometimes you sell lots, sometimes nothing takes their fancy. Sometimes you happen to hit the zeitgeist with your stock, sometimes you don’t. Go with the flow. And whatever happens, keep painting because you love it.”
And so I do. It’s a bit of an addiction to be honest. Not only do I enjoy it – the feel of the paint, the colours, the magic of a painting coming together and a story emerging. But once I’ve done some painting, whether or not it’s one I love and will sell or decide to keep, there’s a lovely feeling of satisfaction, a job done – and whether it’s well done or not, you’ve tried and done your best. If it’s not good enough – well, tomorrow is another day – another chance to paint. And when you’re really pleased with your work and it glows – you glow too.
It’s the same for all of us, isn’t it? We each need the affirmation that whatever work we’ve done it makes the day worthwhile because we’ve done our best.
Today I’m painting an orchard full of blossom. Who will be there, under the trees? Some sheep, grazing, or a lovely pig or two – or, one of my favourite subjects, just a woman sitting reading. It’s a kind of magic, a kind of love, when a story unfolds. (update – three chickens stepped into the orchard!)
I think Vincent enjoyed himself too when he was painting, despite his angst that they didn’t sell.
I hope so.
I hope I always do, sales or not.
When I was writing a book, I’d keep the thought in mind that if something in the book helped even one person, it was worth all the work. Nowadays I think to myself, should I have a worried Vincent moment, ‘Just think of all the happiness your paintings give others as they look at them. That uplift, that sparkle. Let’s see if we can do that for someone with this one.’
That possibility means, for me, it’s absolutely worth it.
Art we love – whether it cost zilch or zillions - is one of the miracles of life. Precious beyond – way way beyond – anything money can buy.
So one of my resolutions – and I hope one of yours too – is to carry on with the work and/or hobbies we love, whatever it is, not just for the pay most of us need to survive, but for the pleasure in the doing and the satisfaction of doing our very best.
Will it make a difference? Yes, it will, somehow, somewhere.
I hope Vincent somehow, somewhere, knows now how he has touched – and continues to touch - millions of people with joy. Bless him.
And wishing you all many blessings in the New Year.
With love and light, Jenny
You can find available paintings at https://www.artfinder.com/jennyhare#/ and, for the smaller ones, visiting https://www.ebay.co.uk/ and searching Jenny Hare Paintings