Envy

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Dear Artist,

“You must have a pretty impressive inbox,” said a friend. I admitted to a full one, often requiring helpers just to process the stuff. Mind you, there are a lot of items in there from kind Nigerian bankers who want to send me $45 million. And stuff like the recent request for my opinion on a proposed website called “Leakyleaks” — a site for people to report bad plumbers.

Then there is, “I envy you. How do you do it?” This is tough stuff when you’re just off to the tailor to get the seasonal tuxedo let out to its last notch.

Speaking of envy, apparently there are two main kinds–benign and malicious. Researchers at Tilburg University in the Netherlands have determined that benign envy (where you don’t need to kill the other person) is actually a more positive motivator than love or money. Researchers did their tests using one of the main sources of envy these days — iPhones. (Mine has more apps than yours. See how lovingly I stroke it.) People who were benignly envious of another’s unit were willing to pay more for one than those who were merely malicious. Worst of all was when people didn’t have to work for them and received them as gifts. Fact is, you’re not as envious when people similar to you seem to work hard to get their stuff. Which brings me to two inbox favourites:

Talent envy. There’s a popular idea that some folks are blessed with talent and others not. The latter envy the former right up until they see all the hard work, sacrifice and focus. The best antidote is to really get to know the apparently talented ones, including their faults and weaknesses.

Success envy. The good luck of others and their unwarranted success can make people crazy, induce voluntary isolation, or motivate in a positive way. On the crazy side, “It’s not just necessary for me to succeed; it’s also necessary for you to fail,” is counterproductive and may result in self-sabotage and creative collapse. Regarding voluntary isolation, you have to work things out on your own without the undue influence of others — but to be completely closed off invites a naive rigidity that ensures further failure. In a healthy reality, the success of others is a harbinger for your own success. “If he can do it, so can I.”

Best regards,

Robert

PS: “The heavier crop is ever in others’ fields.” (Ovid, 43 BC-AD 17)

Esoterica: Consider the concept of the “productive rival.” This is where the person you envy actually motivates you. Because of him, you work harder and smarter. He may even be your secret weapon. The popular word these days is “frenemy” — your arch enemy is your best friend. By the way, the ultimate test is when you love the success of others. The Buddhists call it “mudita” — taking joy in the good fortune of another. Like the guy with the Leakyleaks, I really hope he does well, don’t you? And I hope those plumbers don’t put him in the slammer.



Recipe for envy
by Lorna Dockstader, Calgary, AB, Canada


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“Back at Elbow Falls”
oil painting by Lorna Dockstader

2 cups of comparison
1 cup of low self-esteem
1/2 cup of fear
1/4 cup of talent
1/2 cup of faulty problem solving

Mix together first four ingredients. Then add 1/2 cup of resentment. Whisk together lightly. Pour into a shatter proof glass pan and bake at a very high temperature.

After cooling, sprinkle with 1/2 of insults.

Excellent envy every time!

There are 5 comments for Recipe for envy by Lorna Dockstader

From: Penny Collins — Dec 16, 2010

Beautiful painting, Lorna! I love the simple flat shapes of the rocks and the dark background.

From: Penny Collins — Dec 16, 2010

Hi again Lorna, I have just checked out your website and you have a new fan! Amazing, beautiful work. I love it.

From: w. Coffey — Dec 17, 2010

I am also a fan of this club. Your work is wonderful. I now think I shall use the recipe you so cleverly gave us…. ha

From: Tatjana — Dec 17, 2010

I love your painting Lorna! Great work as always!

From: Anonymous — Dec 19, 2010

Thanks for the kind comments. As the website links are outdated, please see additional work at www.lornadockstader.com Lorna





Neutralize envy by helping others
by Nancy Ness, North Creek, NY, USA


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“Pelican Migration”
oil painting, 18 x 18 inches
by Nancy Ness

I do like the idea that in some way you are helping those that are envious of you. The truth about the link between work and creativity is clear too. Talent as Picasso said is 90% work. People see the results but miss the hours spent in the studio. I do think there’s also something about holding focus and enthusiasm throughout the entire creative journey. So many artists start a painting and then lose interest someplace in the middle. Often they just push through to the finish. Finding a way to help other artists reach their potential is a worthy goal. Instead wasting emotions on jealousy, it would be nice to turn their jealous energy on living up to their own potential. Jealousy may be a cheap way to avoid work.



Good envy for motivation
by Paul deMarrais, TN, USA


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“Lower Watauga”
pastel painting by Paul deMarrais

Envy falls into the important realm of ego management. It can be linked with many other feelings that can be very positive. Recently when standing in front of the painting The Haymakers by Jules Bastien LePage, I felt envy but it intertwined with amazement, wonder and admiration for the skills of the painter. Envy morphed into a trancelike state where I felt the love of artmaking and the feelings it evoked. It was as if the painting was conversing with me. I couldn’t step away from that conversation without a touch of sadness. Lately I am practicing a new twist on envy. When I see a painting that moves me, I make sure and compliment the artist if I can. I know the struggle the artist went through to attain the skills and vision necessary to complete the job. Seeing a good painting gives me a sense of what I could do if I keep working. It’s a motivator and a reminder that painting is a struggle without guarantees. Maturity allows a person to congratulate others on their success. That ability is a critical step for each of us. It reinforces the spiritual link between all people. If one succeeds, we all can succeed. Failure in one country is a failure in all the world. Artists tend to be stubborn individualists working many times in isolation. We can feel like we are climbing Mount Everest without a single companion. In reality success requires the help of many others and we must seek out and be open to that help. No artist, no matter how skilled, can make it alone. Bad envy produces that ‘us and against them’ mentality that is so pervasive in our culture. Competition can be made ugly and even dangerous if we succumb to our lower instincts. It’s a worthy challenge to rise above that quagmire and see the good possibilities life can offer. Art is all about possibility.

There are 4 comments for Good envy for motivation by Paul deMarrais

From: Marsha Hamby Savage — Dec 17, 2010

Paul, I wish I had said it just the way you did! Bravo!!! And, what a good idea to always congratulate the artist if the work moves you. I also try to make sure to have conversation with an artist whose work I admire and tell them how much I am inspired by their work. Recognizing the hard work is a good thing to do. Thank you for stating it!

From: Karen R. Phinney — Dec 17, 2010

Lots of insight in this letter! It’s true, we stand on the shoulders of others. I try to learn from all I come in contact with and I also believe in supporting my artist friends…….of which I am fortunate to have many.

From: Jan Ross — Dec 17, 2010

So true! As artists we appreciate beauty, perhaps more than ‘ordinary’ people, so it only makes sense to appreciate another artist’s work, learn from it/him, and strive to create our own work in a beautiful way. We taught our children that it’s even more important in competition to display kindness and grace, complimenting their rivals when they loose to them, than when they surpassed them in their athletic endeavors.

From: shirley fachilla — Dec 17, 2010

Well said. Whenever I compliment another artist, it’s liberating. Delivering the compliment helps erase any envy. I’m also glad to know that someone else converses with paintings!





Do away with envy
by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki, Port Moody, BC, Canada


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“Resilience”
watercolour by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

“If he can do it, so can I.” This has always been a great motivator for me. I usually set very lofty goals for myself, rarely share them with other people, and never place myself in a rivalry scenario. I like to learn from successful, experienced people, and I see them as teachers, not rivals. This perspective caused a huge surprise for me on several occasions when I went for a longest time not recognizing envy in other people. I guess that since I never think about it, I fail to recognize it, and I definitively don’t know how (or care) to use it for my benefit. You say that envy games sometimes may have a positive outcome (and we all know that researchers always know what they are talking about), but I am very suspicious of that. How can you trust that one makes a clear distinctions between “benign” and malicious envy. It sounds naïve to me to believe that a friendly envier only wants to get on par with you, and will not step on your tuxedo tails to get ahead. I don’t have patience for that. History tells us that some very, very bad things were caused by envy. There are many other motivators of good character in our emotional toolbox, so I vote to do away with envy.

There are 8 comments for Do away with envy by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

From: Anonymous — Dec 16, 2010

No envy, just awe! Portraits are tough enough, but in watercolor! Really excellent work.

From: Lisa Chakrabarti — Dec 16, 2010

Sorry. I neglected to sign my name. The comment above was mine. I don’t believe in anonymity. If I didn’t want my name mentioned, I ought not leave a comment.

From: Anonymous — Dec 17, 2010

Beautiful portrait!!! I’m feeling good envy. Great job and there is that spiritual quality she has that comes through so well. A great portrait is something special. Paul deMarrais

From: Jan Ross — Dec 17, 2010

As a painter of watercolors, and frequently those of ‘people’ I greatly appreciate your sharing this gorgeous painting with the readers! Lovely in every way! Thanks!

From: Laurel Alanna McBrine — Dec 17, 2010

Wow, Tatjana, I did not know you were such an accomplished watercolorist as well as an acrylic painter – you are clearly a woman of many talents. I agree wholeheartedly with what you wrote. I think I am similar to you in not recognizing envy from others – I tend to be pretty focused on my own work, rather than comparing myself to others. I will admit to occasionally having a brief moment of “darn, I wish I could do something as good as that” and usually set goals to get to where I would like to be, maybe by taking a workshop, trying a new technique or medium, or just spending more time in my studio.

From: Tatjana — Dec 17, 2010

Thanks for positive comments! The model is a very special person, a young single mother.

From: Rick Rotante — Dec 17, 2010

Now your piece is making me very envious so, I need to say very nice work. I’m very sensative to good figure work. Yours is tops. More of same.

From: anonymous — Dec 17, 2010

I am envious and hate you. There I said it. But I love your work and your words. Seriously though, I wish the same for me.





Using envy as fuel
by Terry Mason, Sarasota, FL, USA


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“Myakka Spring”
original painting by Terry Mason

I was at an art event the other day when one woman said “In order to make it you have to know someone.” I thought of all the ways I have heard that in the horribly recessed Gulf Coast of Florida. “In order to make it you have to be full time, you have to be young, you have to be male, you have to be… in other words, “something” the speaker does not think they can do or have.

I have never believed any of that. You make your way. You figure it out. You bang on doors. You don’t go out there too early. You don’t stay in the closet if your work is singing. Discouraged? After several wipe outs you can get discouraged. But you don’t whine. And you don’t give up if this is what you really want. And sooner or later, if you persist, there are less and less wipe outs. Or, more and more as your critical eye grows. Both are signs of growth and achievement.

There is a lot of envy and competition in my little corner. You can become a victim or perpetrator or you can decide to use any envy as fuel. Nothing fires me up more than someone with a better plan than I have to improve their work. I want that plan or I want the plan that is better so I can be better.

Envy has its uses. I think you have to choose, with thought, exactly how you respond to those feelings of envy. If envious, figure out why and what and then how you got there. Envy only becomes ugly when it attempts to demean or excuse. Envy can also be as useful as a match when you need that fire to burn bright.



Try competing with yourself
by Lynda Lehmann, NY, USA


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“Amazon”
acrylic painting, 48 x 36 inches
by Lynda Lehmann

Any time in my life when I have felt the slightest tinge of envy, all I had to do was look at the larger picture: of the other’s person’s life, goals and successes, and my own life, etc. Success comes at a price, and a balanced life requires moderate success in many areas. I would not even want the kind of success that comes with ruthless, thoughtless competitiveness. Or with striving SO hard that other things fall out of balance….

I always strive to look at things in a perspective of the total person. What has he or she had to sacrifice or give up to attain that status? Do I really want that kind of status? Are external parameters of success really reliable indicators, or was that person just at right place at the right time, with the right people? Or worse?

Those who waste time preening their green would be best served by competing with themselves. We need each day to strive to do better than we did the day before, whatever the pursuit. And no one knows better than we, where we fall short and where our strengths lie.

There are 2 comments for Try competing with yourself by Lynda Lehmann

From: Casey Craig — Dec 17, 2010

“Success comes at a price, and a balanced life requires moderate success in many areas.” Very well stated and something that is often overlooked.

From: Nancy Bea Miller — Dec 17, 2010

Such wisdom! Thank you for sharing these very helpful observations.





A flower among the weeds
by Rick Rotante, Tujunga, CA, USA


121710_rick-rotante

“Portrait Lillian Guarino”
oil panting by Rick Rotante

Guilty as Charged! I think envy is fostered when an individual isn’t recognized for his or her true worth and sees others being rewarded while you yourself go unnoticed. I know. It happens to me.

Artists especially are susceptible to this “bad” sort of envy. It’s the nature of the beast when you constantly put yourself and your work on the line. It’s masochistic to do this repeatedly, but we do. Rejection from shows, people not buying your work or worst not noticing the good work you do. What I can offer is this – Know that what you do is honest and from the heart. Know too that you do this to bring beauty to the world even if no one sees it–like a giant Sequoia that stands for centuries while no one notices its development. Like a beautiful flower among thousands of weeds. This idea helps me get thru the day and forces me to create good work. As for those “frenemies,” I congratulate them with a smile and try not to let them see the lump in my throat.

There are 6 comments for A flower among the weeds by Rick Rotante

From: Sarah M Taylor — Dec 16, 2010

Wow! Your portrait has so much to say, I wish I was painting with you, just for the inspiration. Love the sequoia simile also.Thankyou!

From: Anonymous — Dec 17, 2010

What a gorgeous painting!

From: Antne Napolitano — Dec 17, 2010

You have submitted some nice work in the past with your letters, but your figure and portrait work is terrific! I am indulging in some envy at this moment. Nice. p.s. I like that your are always positive in your thinking.

From: B.J. — Dec 17, 2010

Man this painting is so powerful. The way you handled the mood with color. This woman must be special to you or else you have a gift of seeing within.

From: Thom Simons — Dec 19, 2010

“the lump in my throat” is a very telling statement and very human. You suffer the same weaknesses and your are willing to expose it with us. Thanks.

From: Rick Rotante — Dec 20, 2010

Thanx everyone. Yes, she is special. a good friend and surragate Mother figure.





Count your blessings
by Russ Henshall, Pulham Market, Norfolk, UK


Years ago I discovered that throwing lead filled pieces of leather ball around and at each other was better played by others in this strange game they call ‘cricket.’

They were better at it than me.

I also discovered that lots of folk could run faster than me, draw better than me and swim better than me. In fact there were even people who could take motors to pieces better and quicker than me.

‘So what?’ I say. So what can I DO? Never mind what other clever peole can do — I can use my keyboard, still ride my motor cycle, rebuild my old car, bring up five kids and say Hi to my 9.6 grandchildren. And I still have a gorgeous wife who loves us all. Envy? What is the point of being envious? I can do what I can do. I can write stories for children that make them laugh. I can make coins do magic disappearing stuff. Oh yes, I can catch English Carp in the lake near where I live. Why be envious?

As history has already shown us so dramatically, envy is at the basis of love fights, wars, selfishness and greed. Best not to be envious of anything or anybody. Just be competitive with yourself. Do the best you can. If other get pleasure from your work and your hobbies. Good. Give a helping hand to all you can. From these things, true inspiration can come.

There are 3 comments for Count your blessings by Russ Henshall

From: Carla — Dec 16, 2010
From: Todd Bonita — Dec 17, 2010

I’m envious of your comments. Well said. All the best, Todd Bonita

From: Terry Rempel-Mroz — Dec 17, 2010

“What is the point of being envious? I can do what I can do.” How profound! This is the best example of a person at peace with themself and the world — if I may I would like to use this as a quote — and to put on my studio wall (where I post other words of wisdom that inspire me). Bravo!





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You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Amy Markham who wrote, “I don’t find envy to be all that interesting. Artist benevolence is perhaps more intriguing. I have an iPhone, never really checked out anyone’s else’s.”

And also Phil Kendall, who wrote, “I’m very lucky that: ‘envy,’ ‘sorrow,’ ‘regret’ and ‘guilt’ are not part of my emotional makeup. A very cold fish I know but that’s the ADD thing for you, it’s all about coping and being an artist. Artist? The best job in the world.”



Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Envy

       
From: John Ferrie — Dec 13, 2010

Dear Robert, When I read this letter I think of some artist I admire and envy. Artists like David Bierk, Thomas Eakins, Francesco Clemente and most recently, Picasso. I look at their work and wonder…wonder what they were thinking when they did this piece, wonder how long they mixed the paint before it was just the right shade and wonder, what they did to make themselves such a success. While I am envious of these artists and what they achieve, they also make me motivated. While I have done a few paintings in my career, I know there are acres of canvas ahead of me. So, envy for me, can take on a third dimension…and that is motivation and inspiration. Then again, that is just me, John Ferrie

From: Sarah — Dec 14, 2010

The “Frenemy” – a nasty little critter. I had the pleasure of being friended by someone who felt inferior to me – it became quite a toxic friendship (if you can call it that). She spent most of her time trying to cut me down at the knees (she thought she was keeping her envy well hidden) but from my perspective it was quite blatant. Especially if she rang me after she’d had a couple of wines – her true feelings stood out a mile. Funny how someone can say 2 nice things about you and/or your work then think the can then get away with 1 put down and you won’t notice the negative under current. She also spent alot of time telling me of her successes and went on a great length about how much everyone loved her work. I found it difficult dealing with her insecurities as she used to relieve them by bringing me down. I was definitely pleased to see the back end of her and won’t be friending anyone like her again. At least now I am certain to see the warning signs alot sooner. A lesson well learnt.

From: Consuelo — Dec 14, 2010

Hi Sarah, I’m afraid people like “your friend” will always be lurking. They need to find successful people to glom onto, gain their secrets, dispense with you then go to the next victim. Keep these type of people in a special category – NTBT – ‘not to be trusted’.

From: Patsy, Northern Ireland — Dec 14, 2010

There was a man whose grown-up son had done extremely well in his chosen field. One day the father met an acquaintance, who said, “Your son is so lucky!” “Yes,” said the father, “and the harder he works, the luckier he gets.”

From: Nina Allen Freeman — Dec 14, 2010

We all feel envy. The important thing is to make it unimportant in your life. Someone else’s success is their life, not yours. I have always felt that if I create my passion, what is in my own head and heart, that eventually someone else will like it too. So, I continue to paint, work hard, learn more and little by little I have had more success in my own life. The best part about this is that I am earning it and no one is giving it to me, nor did I take it from any body out of envy.

From: Marianne Mathiasen — Dec 14, 2010

I think envy is something all people can feel from time to time. I don’t think any feelings you might have as a human is wrong, if you put them to use in the right way. So if I envy someone, I will work harder to reach my goals. At least I will feel that I have done something to achieve what I wanted, and not just blamed others for not doing well myself.

From: Brigitte Nowak — Dec 14, 2010

I feel that when an artist succeeds, all artists succeed. When an artist has created a piece of work that is satisfying to him/herself, that resonates with viewers, that is illuminating, engaging, visually attractive and profound, it validates the time we spend in the studio, attempting to craft an idea out of our experience. When an artist achieves financial success, that too is a validation for all artists: it means that people are willing to spend their hard-earned money on something other than utilitarian goods, on something of beauty, rather than on food, jewelry, lottery tickets or cars, and by doing so, it legitimizes this activity for others. Of course I envy both the talent and success of others. “I wish I had had the insight to paint that” is aspirational envy, and pushes me to do better.

From: Marsha Hamby Savage — Dec 14, 2010

Envy, is something we have all felt at one time or another. How we handle it, or what our next thoughts are, is a measure of our own good or bad character. Whenever I feel envy, it seems to be focused on more a good feeling of trying to figure out what was needed to reach the level of success of that artist. I envy their committment to reaching that level of success, not what they achieved. To envy what a person has such as good paintings, talent, connections, is so counterproductive to creating our own good paintings, talent, or connections! Talent is definitely something we all work hard at creating. Talent is only the ability to work hard and “do” what we feel is our talent. I am always amazed at people that say, “I wish I had your talent,” or “I don’t have any talent.” My comeback is always showing them is my fingers that talent is only about this much – showing them thumb and forefinger about 1/4 inch apart. “Practice” is this much I tell them and pull both my hands and arms as far apart as my short 4’10” frame will allow — and saying it with a smile! Envy, I only envy someone’s ability to focus. Then I go try harder to focus on my on “talents” and “practice.”

From: Sandra Taylor Hedges — Dec 14, 2010

I have been the victim of “The new person in Town” malicious envy, so far since I have arrived in this small city I have had people report me to the City saying that I have a studio in an area that it isn’t zoned for one(not true), rumors spread I am an inferior artist trying to take students away from “Real Artists” (gee I hope not), and most recently when I became president of the local art association subject to slander over my integrity in following the rules of the association (they are mixing that up with the book I’m working on). Oh well, guess I must be doing something right!

From: David G — Dec 14, 2010

A great example of friendly rivals … Matisse and Picasso … liberally borrowed from each other, one upped each other, traded works, etc. Two great talents, pushing each other and enriching us all …

From: Louise Waters — Dec 14, 2010

My green eyed monster has gone away and thank goodness! It is much healthier than when I used to envy my art buddies their talent and selling success. This new state of being just happened in my late fifties. It is much more rewarding being generous. It nurtures my own creative spirit. If others like what comes out of my studio…it is icing on the cake.

From: Dorenda — Dec 14, 2010

Same here Louise…when I was a much younger artist I often allowed envy and jealousy to invade (and interrupt) my process. I now know this is a complete and utter waste of precious time and emotion. I look at the work of others with admiration and camaraderie now because I understand that there is room for all of us :)

From: Darla — Dec 14, 2010

It kind of puts things in perspective when the things you envy that other people have, when you don’t, are good health, enough to eat, and a place to live. Of course I envy people who can paint a lot better than I can, but it’s just not important compared with those very basic things.

From: Richard Smith — Dec 14, 2010

There’s more to success than meets the eye. I loved the comment from a member of a band who’s music had just hit the top of the charts. He reported that the band had spent 15 years becoming an overnight success.

From: Edna V.Hildebrandt — Dec 14, 2010

We have heard of the line”Keeping up with the Jones'”. I think that stems from envy. Some people will try to outdo everyone to the point of going out of bounce with our our finances. I also think that it is in human nature to envy others we perceive as better, richer or more successful than us. We then try to work towards goals to better ourselves. When I was in high school we often right in our friends autographs which was in vogue in our time to write “Hitch your wagon to a star”. I think it also brings about hero worship. It can be good for us to have to encourage us to achieve some measure of success and to strive to improve our work and be competitive. It can become pathological when we obsess about it and try to bring down the object of our envy. We can look at others works and compare with our own and try to find out what works and what does not. Give praise where it is due and be content with what we have. We look where we can improve our work.

From: Jordan — Dec 14, 2010

Always “Good Stuff” from you. Thank you for all your positive ruminations and please have a wonderful Christmas and New Year full of more art ponderings!

From: John F. Burk — Dec 14, 2010

Good observations. Please know that I am happy for you.

From: Dana Finnegan — Dec 14, 2010

I am a steady follower of your words. I’m not a painterly type, though I enjoy art in many forms. I am a writer type and find your letters (and the responses to them) engaging and encouraging. I like your take on envy–especially the idea that it helps to feel that “if that person can do it, so can I.” As you probably know, that attitude (I want what that other person has) is a central motivation for those struggling to get and stay clean and sober. And, yes, I hope the LeakyLeaks guy makes it.

From: Alex Nodopaka — Dec 14, 2010

I can’t imagine fame going to my head because I have no problems with artists being in the news without me. They all give me examples not to follow since I don’t want to be a copycat. I want to be a parrot in my own right. And for the sake of redundancy I feel I am uniquely original. And allow me to join you in your small end-note about Assange. How hypocritical to pursue Truth by sitting across a negotiating table trying to screw the other guy by sandbagging? So if you plan to organize an artists association in support of WikiLeaks let me here the first hole in your sieve. I vote for a pointy conical pasta sieve to be our headgear.

From: Claudia Roulier — Dec 14, 2010

The envy theory is absolutely true, striving to work harder and smarter by silently competing with people, I do that all the time. I wish I was an overnight wonder but that’s not to be, plus I’m a late bloomer and don’t have 20 years, so I do have to work harder. As far as Leakyleaks goes I think the more transparent a government is the better. HOWEVER, I do draw a line when you start releasing names and people die .

From: S. Knettell — Dec 14, 2010

Yes, envy crops up in my life with distressing frequency. It vacuums the mind and controls you- freezing you in place. It denies the perfect reality of your choices, your life, the basic ingredients of what makes you and your work unique. Referring to Buddhism again, there is a technique you can use to try to level this emotion. Wish the focus of your envy, more of what they have, talent, success, money, then you won’t feel quite so impoverished.

From: David Ashworth — Dec 14, 2010

What you said today had particular relevance to where *I* was on *my* journey. It’s all about me, right? Thank you for the day brightener. During winter and at the hour I read them, not literally, but figuratively, yes, all year long. I can’t paint every day, but I can stay focused and grounded every day.

From: Catherine Stock — Dec 14, 2010

Hmmmn…interesting to hear a positive take on envy. It’s something I battle with from time to time and I hate myself for it. I don’t think it’s a motivating factor with me- more a dark nastiness I need to keep in check: something my Mum used to refer to as a “green-eyed monster.”

From: Valery — Dec 14, 2010

I think we agree that for the productive creative being, there is no place for envy. Envy is the toxic energy of the desperate. Artists create out of passion expression. Only the self-silenced are envious. And in despair. For in “if you can so can I” is personal responsibility. The responsibility to answer the call to your own potential.

From: Warren Criswell — Dec 14, 2010

As Oscar Wilde said, “It is not enough to succeed, one’s friends must fail.”

From: Penny Flasco — Dec 14, 2010

Claudia, that’s Leakyleaks, not Wikileaks. So far it cannot be demonstrated that anyone has died, although the plumbing reporter, at least, is probably still at liberty.

From: Philip Coss — Dec 14, 2010

I look forward to each of your postings. They are often motivational and always thought provoking. I am seldom motivated to engage in feedback but for this most recent post “Envy”. Perhaps the best word for when you work with someone who appears more successful or more talented is to describe the relationship as “coopetition” derived from cooperative competition. John Lennon: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.

From: Chris Everest — Dec 14, 2010

You can get into trouble by coveting your neighbour’s ass.

From: Alan — Dec 14, 2010

Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own. ~Harold Coffin

From: Frank H. — Dec 14, 2010

Envy — the resentful or unhappy feeling of wanting somebody else’s success, good fortune, qualities, or possessions. Ok, so when you really think about it, envy cost a person a lot of time and effort, and self respect — it has repercussions of internal pain and neglect. Time to suck it up and stick with the program. One day someone may be envious of you, and because you’ve experienced the pain, no matter what degree — you may find the right words to say — The envious person is not a bad person, it’s just being plain human that hurts. Envy and jealousy, both are dangerous but envy, is said to be the worst.

From: Peter Grange — Dec 14, 2010

Envy is simply self torture. YES to enlarging ourselves by BREAKING FREE of our comfort zones and rewriting a bigger life story. Don’t let envy get in the way of your own personal success. No one, really NO ONE ….NO —– ONE is like you, and you are good. YOU have something to say… YOU are amazing, and everything’s going to be ok. This kicks envy out of the sad sac and put some good light on the picture.

From: Scandinavian Spirit — Dec 14, 2010

Envy and jealousy are often used interchangeably, but in correct usage they stand for two different distinct emotions. In proper usage, jealousy is the fear of losing something that one possesses to another person (a loved one in the prototypical form), while envy is the pain or frustration caused by another person having something that one does not have oneself. Envy typically involves two people, and jealousy typically involves three people. It is possible to be envious at more than one individual at any given time. Usually envy involves wanting the beauty, wealth, or socioeconomic status of another individual. Envy and jealousy result from different situations and are distinct emotional experiences. Both envy and jealousy are etymologically related to schadenfreude, the rejoicing at, or taking joy in, or getting pleasure from the misfortunes of others.

From: doris — Dec 14, 2010

Thank you Scandinavia Spirit, envy and jealosy are two very different entities. We are one on one with envy, but it takes three to get the ugly , nasty bug of jealosy going. Be kind to others efforts, I will only come back to you with much favor.

From: Linda Saccoccio — Dec 14, 2010

Thanks for this lighthearted and true letter. I find whenever that twinge of envy shows up, it is a good indicator that I need to shoot for something that will keep me moving forward ease-fully. It’s an initiator toward better health in a broad sense, and I can even participate in the Buddhists “mudita” and take it further to gratitude for the ones who are attaining success. They are creating an opening and a stream of possibility.

From: Rachel Kelly — Dec 16, 2010

I’m half way through the book of all your letters. I wanted to say I love this stuff. Thanks for sharing. I’m loving gradations, line ups, look three times, think twice, paint once, squeeze out before coffee (even though i don’t drink it), paint the difficult bits first, and everything else in that big book. Thank-you for being you. I also just found the zingers at the back of the book and peed my pants laughing. Revelstoke, B.C

From: Naomi McLean. — Dec 16, 2010

Thank you for all your motivating letters and a merry Christmas to you and your family, also a happy New Year.

From: Donald Kaufman — Dec 16, 2010

Life is too short to be small, said someone, I don’t know who. But it’s true, artists can be small and sometimes I think they are getting smaller. Maybe we all are. But not me. I’ll fight it. “Envy is a littleness of soul, which cannot see beyond a certain point, and if it does not occupy the whole space feels itself excluded.” (William Hazlitt)

From: Luann Udell — Dec 16, 2010

Envy does its worst work in us when we do not recognize it nor name it. It does its best work in us when we understand what it is we envy–and use it to push ourselves forward in our work and our life. It was in your column some time ago that I read the comment, “I have lost more friends to jealousy than to any other disease.” (Tatiana) It was a profound moment for me. I truly knew that I am not responsible for other people’s feelings, only my own. From then on, I used that envy to move myself forward. Because if we don’t, then we’ve used our envy as an excuse to give up, and not do our best work. Thank you, Robert, and thank you Tatiana, for THAT moment, and thank you for this one.

From: Sandy — Dec 16, 2010

In response to Sarah (Dec. 14) I think I’m friends with your “frenemy”! She constantly tells me how much everyone loves her work. And, Patsy (N. Ireland) wheneven I win an award, she (this “friend”) tells me how “lucky” I am, and I say, maybe it just means I’m good.

From: Nina Allen Freeman — Dec 17, 2010

Thank you, Robert, for this topic of envy which struck a familiar cord with me and with so many people. Once again, I am reminded I am not alone, even though I work alone.

From: Mark Anthony — Dec 17, 2010

I am going through that now, actually. Repeating in my mind to keep going, trying, persevering and do what I love . Regardless, we just moved to a hustling little metropolis near east Tennessee University. Found a wonderful opportunity to live in a commercial building, and we opened up a little eclectic studio where we will have sketching classes, music classes (husband is a master classical guitarist) hell, whatever we can do to make this place a resource, an asset to the community, and to us! So thought I would introduce myself to 2 of the most prominent artists in town, both of whom own very nice studio/gallery establishments downtown, via email. One artist,which has a lot of the same attributes that I do. A portrait artist as well and also marketing murals ( by the way, a wonderful artist!!) So I was excited and included in my email that I would love to learn as much as I could from her and if I could be of any help, what-so-ever to let me know. This was a month ago. I even sent it twice to make sure she got it. Both establishments did not respond, welcome to the area, nada. I have to tell you, I am a little dismayed. Hurt my heart a little. I am wanting to integrate into the local art community so bad. Its a healthy thing to do for the soul and hell, Im lonely, and want other artists perspectives, to learn from them. With that said , I am still here, trying to be oblivious and its hard not to want to put myself in solitude for fear of being shunned yet once again. But in order to succeed with this little place we have going, wouldn’t it be wise to be friendly with these people? Granted I am only going to beg but so much, but should I extend my hand yet once again?

From: Lori — Dec 17, 2010

Wow. I’m not an envious creature myself, and I see many people here are not, but I never had thought about the destructive power of envy in others directed at me art-wise. The frenemies struck me. I’m a tad naive and always assume the best in folks. I was also struck by the two artists who moved to new towns and are instant pariahs. I suppose for that you must eliminate the threat they feel and accentuate the positive you can bring to them. How? i’m not sure. How hard do you try? Well, I guess the alternative, not trying, is an option. I am still learning from my healing wounds the power of those with power. Good luck to all.

From: Suzette Fram — Dec 17, 2010

To Mark Anthony: email is not always reliable and there’s always a chance that they did not actually get your message. Perhaps a personal visit to their studio to introduce yourself might be a good idea. Just in case. And who knows, even if they did get it and did not respond for whatever reason, a personal visit could result in the beginning of a friendship. What have you got to lose?

From: Agnes Tucker — Dec 17, 2010

Mark, hear what you’re saying. Bear in mind, most professional artists do not have assistants to perform all the functions that need doing to be successful; so perhaps their lack of response is a time problem. Be patient, join local/regional art organizations, offer to do demos or jury shows, volunteer where you see a need. Relationships evolve although not as quickly as we might wish.

From: Jose — Dec 17, 2010

Mark, put yourself in their shoes. Your request to them is implying change in their life, that they may not be able or want to accommodate. From your perspective, it’s a needed and good thing. But they are on their own road of life and why should they bend towards your plan? That’s the worst case scenario for you…but it’s always better to meet in person and chat – emails are full of garbage nowadays and nobody takes them seriously.

From: Barney Smith — Dec 18, 2010
From: Lorraine Agri — Dec 19, 2010

Pay your models..

From: Brian, Upstate NY — Dec 19, 2010

I don’t rely on email for meeting artists, much better to do it in person. Also it is good to have a copy of your portfolio so they can see what type of work you do. I would suggest building a rapport with them before you go and try to start a new community project and getting them involved on the ground floor. I would also suggest starting the project without them and getting things rolling before approaching them, it shows initiative and not just another pipe dream. Good Luck with your projects!

From: Advice — Dec 20, 2010

Barney Smith, the only way to learn to make portraits without tools is to practise without tools. Imagine how you would be walking if you learned using crutches.

From: Sharon Rusch Shaver — Jan 04, 2011

I will be doing a workshop in Ireland this year and I look forward to any artists there that would like to join me! See the workshop listing for Sharon Rusch Shaver.

     
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