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Scapegoat by Robert Genn

Scapegoat
by Robert Genn

One of the side benefits of writing these letters is receiving the remarkable volume of confidential, negative and unpublishable emails that show up in this inbox. After my recent paint-out in Argentina there was such a buildup that I detected a trend. Variations on "Why I am not an artist," giving reasons and details, were endemic. Often in sympathy, I am just now writing back to many of them with an understanding note.

 

The blame goes often to a lack of family support, having a strict father, a managing mother, an uninterested husband/wife, or too many kids. Other would-be artists subtly put it down to a range of societal faults--the educational system, economic pressure, crummy doctors, women taking over, lousy galleries, etc. Some complaints were obviously bizarre and unfounded--one lady said there was too much information being put out by people like me.

 

Scapegoat--A History of Blaming Other People, by Charlie Campbell, pretty well identifies scapegoating as basic to the human psyche. "In the beginning, Adam blamed Eve," he writes. In this fascinating book Campbell looks at how we demonize bankers, Muslims, politicians, lawyers, priests and especially the French. It's a hoot. I had to laugh because I know some artists who never blame anyone but themselves, but maybe that's just my delusion. I couldn't help thinking once more that the world is made up of two main kinds of people--those who turn lemons into lemonade, and those who do not.

 

So who are we going to blame for our disappointments and our failures? "Overcoming" is also basic to the human psyche, though apparently less frequently applied. I've run into quite a few damaged, deafened or distracted artists who have nevertheless made successes of themselves. Crippled, bedridden or battle-scarred does not seem to hold back the tough-minded. Drive, steadfast study and focus add up to character--and, in many cases, character makes success. I hate to drop this little nugget, but a human psyche in possession of even a small amount of personal success is often, but not always, quite deliriously, even delusionally, happy.

 

Best regards,

 

Robert

 

PS: "We prefer to find an explanation for why things are not perfect, and these rarely stand up to close scrutiny." (Charlie Campbell)

 

Esoterica: Very often artists focus on the psychology when they ought to be into the technology. When you get right into it--get your smock covered in paint and your mind on the perennial studenthood ahead--you tend to let go of the negative stuff. It takes time and application to get that smock messy, but when you see self-made quality rising up in front of you--you will wonder what all the defeatist fuss was about. Legions of books have been written about successful and highly-evolved folks who had lousy upbringings, bad health, or all manner of bad luck. Most of these folks would say, "Don't lay blame; give credit."

Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to post from his twice-weekly newsletter. For more of his artistic insights, visit his blog at www.painterspost.com.

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