Friday, March 28, 2008


It's odd really to think that some people don't thrive on encouragement. But in my dealings with artists and the rest of the world, I have found that some people appreciate encouragement, some are skeptical of it, and a few are downright intimidated by encouragement as if you are manipulating them.

In my work career, I always found it odd, that while I might be excelling and making my boss lots of money, encouragement and enthusiasm for my work was handed out rather stingily. I found this strange considering encouragement is free and in fact I would have not been as concerned with how I was being compensated monetarily, than if I had a little encouragement now and then. As a parent, my children always seemed to thrive on praise and encouragement, and it only seemed logical that someone who had hired me to do a job, would find this simple courtesy effective in motivating me to work harder. Not so.

In turn, I try to encourage people in my daily encounters, whether it is an artist, a colleague or a volunteer. I'm not afraid to tell people I love them, and I am more open to giving out encouragement than I used to be. I'm not looking for something in return when I encourage, I'm just acknowledging their efforts.

The reactions I get for my encouragement are not always positive, however. There are just those that are not comfortable with a compliment.

Creative people who are "putting themselves out there," and taking risks like artists do everyday have to learn to deal with comments about their work.

I developed a "thick skin," years ago when I made the commitment to be a writer. I knew that if I wanted to become proficient as a writer, I would need to be open to constructive criticism, good bad or ugly. Prior to the internet, it was amazing how many people had time to let you know you had a comma out of place! Now, seeing poor punctuation and grammar is a daily occurrence.

And then there are times when you have to give yourself encouragement. Today, when I was working on researching new artists for the site I was sent a very hostile email, as if I was trying to take advantage of someone. I had to chuckle. You would have thought that we were out here scamming our way through life taking advantage of artists at every turn.

I guess the ultimate encouragement for any artist is purchasing their art. Who did you encourage today?--Ruth Mitchell

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