The Importance of Thick Skin by Stacy Mayou
Hard to believe it is May, it seems like some surreal world where time is moving and standing still at once. I hope you are all well, healthy and financially able to stay warm and fed.
We have been under stay-at-home orders for at least a month now. In the beginning, the virus wasn’t close and it felt a bit like a vacation. No where to run to in the morning (well maybe to find TP), living in sweatpants, coffee all day, and working at the dinning room table. It was the same feeling as sleeping in the fort we built in the living room when we were kids.
Artists jumped on 30 day challenges that flooded Facebook and Instagram, signed up for online classes, and joined free live stream workshops. Committing to come through this lockdown as better artists than when they started. The artwork being shared on social media has been truly amazing. Artists are spending time experimenting and using new mediums, they are learning to use new tools online, sharing videos, time lapse paintings, and offering opportunities for their friends to paint or draw with them, some even live streaming. It is all a crazy whirlwind of creativity and it is impressive!
Yet all of this creativity is happening in a vacuum.
Although most artists are introverts we crave the acceptance of our peers. We need each other. We hold each other up, motivate and inspire each other. Not easy to do when we can’t get together. Facebook and Instagram likes are nice, but they can become a crutch, even an addiction. Relying on them for acceptance and motivation can send a creative soul on a downward spiral quickly.
What started as a blessing; being at home alone with our art, has become difficult and it is getting harder to see the blessing through the doubt. It is getting harder to show up and be fresh.
Good thing artists have thick skin. We have been preparing for this since we started drawing as youngsters. Be kind to yourself. You are an artist, you are improving. Remember, you will be the last one to recognize your own improvement, and you are the harshest critic of your own work. Maybe it is time for a mental health day. A day to do something completely different; bake a cake, whittle a stick, go fishing, breathe. Your thick skin can protect you from doubt, acknowledge it, accept it, and then show up anyway!
While you are taking care of yourself and working on your art, take a minute to reach out to other artists during this time to make sure they are doing well. All of us need to know our tribe is there for us.
As always I would love to hear your thoughts on this article and hear how you are managing through this odd time. firstname.lastname@example.org
Although this article sounds like it is coming from a very personal place, I am actually doing very well. Aside from the usual doubt and scary blank surfaces, I have been having fun in my studio and taking mental health days when I need them. When I sat down to write this month’s article, I had become aware that ‘all work (art) and no play’ is real, and I was seeing artists begin to show small cracks in their thick skin as their confidence started to waiver. We need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves and holding up the artists we are connected to.
We may all be in this together, but we need to all get through this together!
Wishing you all peace and good health