No, You're Not Pathetic

20 Feb 2013

In a recent article I wrote, a reader commented about the "pathetic efforts" she/he, and other artists, make sometimes in the process of creating art. I understand what the reader is saying, at the same time that I vehemently oppose the concept.

It's easy to overlook children as being unimportant, because they can't trade stocks or undergo diplomatic negotiations. But what a drab, sad place this world would be without them! Seaside Story inspirational poster, The Least of These is Great Indeed by Steve Henderson.
It's easy to overlook children as being unimportant,
because they can't trade stocks or undergo diplomatic
negotiations. But what a drab, sad place this world would
be without them! Seaside Story inspirational poster,
The Least of These is Great Indeed by Steve Henderson.
Yes, as ordinary people creating art, painting, and drawing, it is tempting to view what we do as unimportant, without influence, minor, and yes, pathetic -- so unlike the actions and output of Oprah, or Dr. Oz, or James T. Kirk. I mean, after all, if what we did were truly important, then we would be phenomenally well known, and everyone would want to know our every thought and emotion.

Sorry -- nope. "Well-known" and "Important" are not synonyms.

What you do, what you create, what you paint, is not, and never is, "pathetic," if you have put your heart, soul, mind, and effort into it. It may not be what you're trying to achieve, yet, and it may not fly off the easel before it's dry, but it's not pathetic.

"Pathetic" is thinking that you're somebody impressive simply because others know your name. "Pathetic" is putting half-effort into a project and expecting to be fully appreciated for genius. "Pathetic" is acting rudely toward the person bagging your groceries because she/he is serving you. "Pathetic" is treating beautiful people -- children, say -- like inconveniences because they say "Twis-mas" instead of "Christmas," because they can't make the "k" sound yet.

Paint. Create. Dream. Work hard. Analyze. Focus on the things you need to work on. Smile. Thank God -- or the Universe, or nobody in particular -- for your next breath. Delight in the color and texture of the medium in which you work.

And never, ever, consider what you do "pathetic."

--Carolyn


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Comments

chris greene wrote
on 23 Feb 2013 8:46 AM

   Artists have always had to struggle with self doubt. But in spite of public indifference, they must keep expressing their gifts. Art only has meaning if it is shared with others.

   Chris Greene

mifasola1 wrote
on 23 Feb 2013 9:29 AM

I can identify with this article and I tell myself, don't take it personally.  I occasionally want to tear a painting or drawing apart, but someone suggested that when that happens, go ahead and do it, then make a collage out of it.  What a great idea!

on 23 Feb 2013 9:49 AM

I feel better now.... Great Article! I just had another peice rejected and this article reminds me that I am not the art I create but the person who  tries my best....I do need to do a little more examining of my self as to whether or not I am truly trying my best but that just gives me another reason to get back to my easel. Thanks for a great article

JenPoweIllo wrote
on 23 Feb 2013 4:41 PM

I've been tutoring an 11-year-old boy in drawing and illustration, and it has been a struggle to get him to take risks, to possibly make mistakes along the way in the process of learning, because he's so afraid of making a "wrong" mark. Yes, mistakes will be made, but we're not pathetic if we keep going and stay open to all there is to learn.

Sharondup wrote
on 24 Feb 2013 1:14 AM

My version of 'PATHETIC' is when you know a person with the talent for art/drawing, and they do not even attempt to use that awesome talent to their advantage, when they're jobless! I also thought at a time, my artwork were pathetic, but my friends disagreed with this statement. Self-doubt is always an artist's struggle, because we as artists always think our work is meaningless and not good enough to sell or to exhibit. I'm one of them...but I'm trying, lately, not to be 'so hard and discriminating' on my efforts and attempts. It makes me feel good regardless what others think about my work.

Chrisange wrote
on 24 Feb 2013 1:14 AM

Thanks Carolyn, I so needed to read this and you are 100%right of course