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An Artist's Life; taking care of your Art Shrine

kristena briem-west creative arts creativity criticism how to start an art practice overcoming criticism protecting your creative process self-esteem shadow artists wizard of oz

an Artist’s Life; taking care of your ArtShrine


I’ve been thinking a lot about people who make criticisms or corrections about the actions or emotions of others. They show & tell their disapproval, as if they have the inner marker of “appropriateness” to everyone else’s behavior. These people have unresolved power, authority and creative issues, that they constantly project outward onto others. If one points this out, there is effusive denial. Yet, the very thing they proclaim about others, is the very thing they cannot see in themselves. Or they say, don’t take it personally. Yeah. right. Giving themselves permission to continue their critical discourse of others.

I grew up with a Mom that was a “shadow artist” she criticized my art, my life, my feeling life, she was out of her body/boundary and living in my life. Suffocating. I left home and never went back. When I feel that controlling energy come at me, I don’t trust the person and I disappear. It’s emotional blackmail and form of verbal abuse. One cannot be free with someone always trying to contain one. The best thing is to not be in the same space.

Here are some quotes from Julia Cameron’s book on the Artists Way.

“Creativity flourishes when we have a sense of safety and self-acceptance. . . we must learn to place our [inner] artist with safe companions. Toxic playmates can capsize our artist’s growth. Not surprisingly, the most poisonous playmates for us as recovering creatives are people whose creativity is still blocked. Our recovery threatens them.” jc

“Perfectionism has nothing to do with getting it right. It has nothing to do with fixing things. It has nothing to do with standards. Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move forward. It is a loop—an obsessive, debilitating closed system that causes you to get stuck in the details of what you are writing or painting or making and to lose sight of the whole.” jc

I don’t remember if it’s Marion Woodman or Julia Cameron that gave guidance to not share new creative endevours with people like this, as they “kill the baby.” They subtly disparage or correct one’s creativity as “Not. Quite. Right.” thus killing off the vunerable creative “baby” or beginning sprouts.

Creativity is messy, its chaotic, it’s all over the map, it’s upside down, not right side up and contained. When I am in a creative mode, my studio is filled to bursting with paints, canvas, shreds of some precious cloth, pens, books, ideas are brimming, brimming, brimming. It’s a time of overflow. It’s good. The time for pruning or editing comes after, it’s the distilling of essence. That takes time, patience, love and acceptance of the whole god-loving process.

So a word to the creatives out there, protect your inner artist/creative shrine. It’s your Light to Shine, the world awaits your gifts so they can take it further.


2d Photo: Alain Laboile. French photographer and artist ..

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  • kristena on
    Janneke Rosenbrand Of course this happens all the time in the arts, especially the Fashion design! Once a design gets seen, it’s being copied in China and can come out before the “stolen” original. We are all influenced by others all the time. When Ninneta Sombart’s book was published (in estoeric artists work) I saw how many people were influenced by her work. I certainly was. But copying masters is a good way to try to figure out, “what were they doing here?” “Why do I like it so much?”, “Why does it lift me?” and I see the same thing with Hilma auf Klimpt work that is revolutionizing the art world. I see her swirls & flower shapes appearing in artwork in many places. Sometimes a new way of of looking at things – can encompass us- we have to merge with it and live it through and it comes out in our artwork. Sometimes, we ourselves can be doing the very thing that irks us, unconsciously. It is extremely difficult to be original all the time. I saw this coming up through the ranks of the art gallery world.

    And if people are trying to earn a living by painting, say, and out of grim necessity see someone else making money on a style or look, yes there may be 20 or 30 people doing different knock offs that are less and less like the original. But this isn’t really art, it’s commerce/ and or lack of authentic self. (eBay or Etsy for example)

    Happens in the book world too. Someone does some highly original research writes & publishes a book. And as one is researching this topic as the years go by, you begin to recognize the regurgitated & watered-down material from the original writer.

    All we can do is look to the thorns in our own eye and try to be authentic as possible and to discuss this as a topic, it always help to “clear the air.”
    warm regards to a sister artist!

  • Janneke Rosenbrand on

    I did not have a mom like you described, luckily. My mom always encouraged me and was amazed and mostly happy but at least surprised about what I did. That’s why I learned to share my art from when I was young. Later I became an art teacher and my goal was to inspire people to be genuine, even if that sometimes was hard. Because there are many people with an what I call: “imitating talent”. They see something they admire and they don’t take the effort of expressing their own creativity and just copy work from others. And are very proud when they get credits, because that’s very important to them and not everybody is so keen to see through that process. A lot of modern art seems to me copy-cat art. Is it just me who gets very tired from that? It’s not that I pretend to be the only one who makes original art, sometimes people have comparative intuition and vibes and their works resonate each other, and it still has that unique quality. It takes time and experience to know the difference….. It’s quite hard to explain and get a grip on it and I don’t envy the success of others with something they imitated. Because copying great artists for example teaches you a lot too, if it’s done by heart, with respect and mentioning the source; not just for the result. It’s a thin line. (I hope I express myself well enough, English is not my native language). Anyway, during the years I let go when it irritated me and just keep ploughing my own work and try to keep it fresh, inspired and as close to what I really want to express as possible. So it does not bug me much anymore. This issue is a bit different from what you described but I sure see it as a shadowy way of working (the copying just for the outside result and the stealing of ideas). Does anybody recognize this?

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