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Hopeless? – by Robert Genn

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by Robert Genn

Yesterday, Keith Wright of Melbourne, Australia wrote, "Nothing is as hopeless as trying to justify a lifetime as an artist. I have painted for over thirty years and have little to show for it. I have a studio full of paintings and a wife who denigrates my career. I have no money, no sales, no hope. You may even say, 'His paintings are bad.' But I have no ego and little belief in my abilities. I always thought one day my work might be in demand. I know I don't paint for others--it's an addiction within myself. But the indifference to my work has gradually worn me down. I'm now being treated for depression. I can no longer believe in myself because no one else believes in me. A lifetime wasted. I should feel bitter but I'm beyond even that. I have loved my art but it has destroyed me."

Thanks, Keith. We've taken the liberty to put a few of your works at the top of the current clickback. I'm sure some of our readers will pass along their opinions. As in all cases where artists mention depression, I encourage them to seek help. Looks like you are doing that. While I'm deeply sorry for your predicament, I also recognize that it is, in degree, universal. While feelings of hopelessness may be part of the game, there is still the blessing, the power to create. At times like this, we can think of Vincent van Gogh.

"One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul and yet no one ever comes to sit by it," said Vincent. "Passersby see only a wisp of smoke rising from the chimney and continue on their way." This statement--even though his letters are often full of flights of optimism and joy--is the grim outlook of many of us. Success or no success, joy or no joy, we are alone. And it is to this private struggle that we must consign our energy, our focus, and our lives.

Vincent tells us that one needs only to listen to the voice of nature to be fulfilled. That only the beautiful mind is needed. The idealist in us finds this to be true. The pragmatist doesn't. Vincent himself could not live up to his own standards. He too was depressed. "What am I in most people's eyes?" he asked. "A nonentity or an eccentric and disagreeable man." Truth is, when we're able to kiss off the expectations laid on us by ourselves and others, we have the chance to overcome.

Best regards,


PS: "As a suffering creature, I cannot do without something greater than I--something that is my life--the power to create." (Vincent van Gogh)

Esoterica: Feelings of creative joy and the consequent self-worth come from doing the work. We all ask Vincent's question: "There is something inside me--what can it be?" And we learn, "One must work and dare if one really wants to live." Are we up to this question and its answer? If it was easy to fulfill I think everyone would be artists.

Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to post from his twice weekly email newsletter. For more valuable insight from Robert, visit his blog at http://www.painterspost.com

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