Today I want to talk about being good enough.  Probably because I am an artist, I will write about it from an artist's perspective, but I think some of the principles can apply to most anything we undertake.

But first of all, the photograph of the roses-yes, they are growing in the three tiered rose bed on the patio, that Scott made for me.  This one particular plant is just amazing this year-the rest of the the roses are  doing well, but this guy is stellar!  There are masses of gentle pink blooms everywhere.  I have no idea why the abundance, this fellow has received the same amount of fertilizer and water the rest have....guess the thing is to just enjoy the bounty.

Back to the subject at hand. Being good enough. What would happened if we decided the whole concept was simply the pile of crap that it is, and just abandoned the notion altogether and simply did what we loved?  Some of us spend lifetimes waiting until we think (or someone else tells us) we are good enough.  Or that we can't do something until we feel "ready".  Truthfully, we may never feel ready.....

This whole business about being good enough is a real creativity killer, soul crusher, art stopper.  I was for me anyway. I grew up in a small town, and all through school, art was my thing. I was identified as "the good artist".  It was my solace, my place of connectedness, and also a place where I hid myself away from the world.  I grew up hearing; "you are so talented", all the time. While I appreciated the intention behind the complement, it got old.  I would rather some one have said to me, ' your painting or drawing, or whatever made me feel..."  I needed to know that what I did touched another person, and was not just about me being talented. There are lots and lots of "talented" people in the world.  There is more to making art than having talent...there is the whole heart thing, and the hard work thing, and....anyway, I digress.   What happened to me, was that my art became something it was never meant to be, a way to measure myself, and decide if I was worthwhile or not.  If other people kept telling me I was talented, and that I was such a good artist, and wow did they like whatever it was I was creating, then I felt good.  In a very false way.    Being a good artist became a way to identify myself, and so when I went away to art school and I was not the only kid who was talented, I fell apart and lost my art.  I was Scared To Death not to be good enough.  If I was not good enough, than the art facade I had built around myself  would crumble, and then who would I be?

I have spent lots of years sorting this out, and the journey to find my art in a genuine and life affirming way has been really hard.  In coming to the other side of some of that, I find myself loving what I do, being grateful for mistakes that I can learn from (mistakes used to be horrible, if the work was not good, then why I was doing it?), and utterly committed to being the best Jan in terms of my work I can be.  Not so someone else can tell me how talented or good I am, but so perhaps, another human being can be touched by the visual stories I tell, the small stories of people's lives, and moved to a place that's a bit higher than ordinary today.  So that I can have the satisfaction of knowing I can do it, I can create and share the beauty that's inside my heart and head with others.

Ran across an Andy Warhol quote that's really good:  "Don't think about making art, just get it done.  Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it.  While they are deciding, make even more art".

My mantra these days. 

This fall is going to find me abandoning most everything for the sake of immersing myself in my work. (the summer has been filled with some time sucking stuff that I wish would just go away....) I will be painting my fingers off-lots of what I do may end up being wall paper-flops that are really gold, because if what I'll learn. In between, there will be some beauties.  Gems to be framed and hung and shared.  Stuff to be proud of and truly satisfied with.  I am So Looking Forward to this, in ways I can't give words to.  I think I'll still want to hang out with the Auto Parts Guy, and will probably make sure the house does not fall down around us...and that we eat well.  Other than that-I'll be painting.


Ellyn George
08/09/2013 11:36am

Jan, this is so true and I'm glad you will be doing more painting. What has touched me most about your work is the series of paintings you did while in Romania. I sat and looked at those black and white faces in all their simplicity and was amazed. I will never have the opportunity to meet those people living their daily lives, but the faces just drew me in.


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