Art flirt

Dear Artist, Yesterday, Karen J. Jones of Boston, Massachusetts wrote, “I’m a self-confessed art flirt. When I see the work of others that I’m attracted to, I fall in love. I want to be that artist, I want to create that work, I want to live that life. I’m willing to give up my current style, all my materials and even my pets if I could just paint like that. It happens often. With the convenience of the Internet, I can fall in love more than once a day. I’m suffering from infatuation overload and it’s really getting to me. Can you help?”

“Dark woods”
pastel painting
by Karen Jones

Thanks, Karen. The condition you’re talking about is widespread. The good news is, if it’s like having an occasional drink, it’s fairly harmless. Out of control, it can ruin careers and bring artists to states of hopelessness and depression. Yours sounds like a serious case of Chronic Creative Promiscuity (CCP). You need to take the cure. I know of no organization catering to really outrageous flirts like you. I’ll take the case. The reason you compulsively accept the paths of others is you don’t have confidence in your own path. If you ever had a path, you need to find it again by quitting cold turkey. You need to choose a day to begin a new life of media celibacy. Explore your own creative wanderings and drag stuff up from your fantasy bank. Be assured that you have enough talent and character to pull it off.

original painting
by Karen Jones

Your case is particularly serious because you want to be in someone else’s shoes. You’ll even sacrifice your pets. You need to fully understand that you are your own person. To be satisfied in our game, you need to own your style and your direction. Put a sign on your studio wall: “I shalt not covet the work of others.” You’ve had enough of playing the field. You now need to look within. Permit yourself only occasional dalliance in your new world of media chastity. Abstain for a day and you can abstain for a week. The rest will be history. More great careers have been built on habit modification than this world dreams of.  

“Red trees with Gray sky”
pastel painting
by Karen Jones

Best regards, Robert PS: “Be careful that you do not write or paint anything that is not your own, that you don’t know in your own soul.” (Emily Carr) Esoterica: The main joy in art, apart from acquired proficiency, is to get the understanding that you are truly special and unique. This understanding is a defense against all setbacks or misgivings. In the words of Emily Carr, “If you’re going to lick the icing off somebody else’s cake, you won’t be nourished and it won’t do you any good.” It’s true, artists need to see themselves as pioneers, and when they possess their own uniqueness, they thrive. “They copied all they could follow, but they couldn’t copy my mind, so I left them sweating and stealing a year and a half behind.” (Rudyard Kipling)   Faithful to first love by Diane Overmyer, Goshen, IN, USA  

“May Garden”
original painting
by Diane Overmyer

I can relate to what Karen goes through, only I experience that feeling even more intensely when I have seen someone’s work in person where it is nicely displayed in a gallery or museum. I get totally excited sometimes, just thinking about how much fun it would be to try a new technique or to totally change my current style (and I have painted in several different styles over the course of my career). To me the cure is going back to my studio or even into one of the galleries that carries my work and taking a good hard look at it. It normally doesn’t take much time for me to realize that I need to stay faithful to my “first love” and keep plodding on. And often, just like in marriage, before I know it, I am once again totally infatuated with my own processes and soaring high!     There are 2 comments for Faithful to first love by Diane Overmyer
From: Ken Flitton — May 30, 2011

Very nice painting!

From: Cindy Lee — May 31, 2011

So true and beautifully put.

  Walk a mile in their shoes by Louise Francke, NC, USA  

“My world”
mixed media
by Louise Francke

Our early years make us who we are. Those broken homes, the nightmares, the parents who are unstable, abuse or threaten us. Some children survive by escaping into a dreamland where all is smothered in new fallen snow to hide the ugly scarred landscape in their mind. We are who we are — we do what we do — not because we wish it but because it makes us more stable human beings and it brings us joy. Before you wish to be someone else, walk in their shoes along their life’s paths. To those who have survived, give them their hard won credits and don’t envy them for they have bared their souls to you.   There are 2 comments for Walk a mile in their shoes by Louise Francke
From: Karen — May 31, 2011

What a powerful image! Am sure it resonates for many people. And it is a good way to deal with those demons. You have “captured” them, a neat turnaround……

From: Dana — Oct 17, 2013

That a true true true statement.

  Personal path feels best by Ron Gang, Kibbutz Urim, Israel  

oil painting 28 x 52 inches
by Ron Gang

I would say that this ailment is cured over time — the more you keep on keeping on your own thing, deepening and broadening it, it grows, and the less other people’s work has the pull on you to imitate them. I don’t know if it is ever completely cured, as every once in awhile something will really knock my pants off it, and there will be a temptation to go there. Still, the last time it happened, I found it wore off in a day as the temporary attraction faded and again felt good with where I was going in my own path. After 30 years of painting, this doesn’t keep me from admiring really good artists.   Flirting can be a good thing by Warren Criswell, Benton, AR, USA  

oil painting, 36 x 28 inches
by Warren Criswell

The trouble with this approach is it’s not that easy to find your true self. It’s like trying to go to sleep or to sneeze — you can’t do it deliberately. Back in the ’60s and ’70s I wanted my art to be uniquely mine. Still believing that art progressed, like science, I saw that Modernism was a succession of eliminations. Verisimilitude, line, color, form, subject matter — anything that could be identified as essential to art could then be eliminated. To be unique, which I saw as the goal of the artist, I thought I had to find something to eliminate that no one else had thought of yet, something which could only be done by my “true self,” if only I could find it. Then along came Sol LeWitt who eliminated the art object itself! — replacing it with a set of instructions. It seemed to me that Conceptualism Modernism had reached its goal and was over. It was like a great weight had been lifted off me and I gave up on uniqueness. I had always loved Titian, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, all that great chiaroscuro which I much preferred to the shadowless, Alexkatzification of light, as I called it, which had been evolving since Cezanne. I felt free to plunge into that arcane method of painting and blatantly imitate the methods and styles of the Old Masters. I probably wouldn’t have given up my pets like Karen, but I was very much into those artists and forgot about the search for my “true self.” It was only then that people started to say that my work was unique! The point is, if you are a true artist and not a copyist, no matter how much you covet the work of others, what you produce is going to be uniquely yours. You may think you’re licking the icing off somebody else’s cake, but then it may turn out to be your own cake after all. I don’t think you can consciously find or invent yourself. I think it has to ambush you when you’ve stopped looking for it. There are 4 comments for Flirting can be a good thing by Warren Criswell
From: Rosie Jones — May 30, 2011

I love your last line! The point of surrender.

From: Bea Lancton — May 31, 2011

Excellent point, and very well said. I agree with Rosie about that last line. I sure wish I could have said it!

From: Ib — May 31, 2011

Words of wisdom!!!!!

From: Carole Belliveau — May 31, 2011

Yes, this is well said. One thing that is astonishing is that artists are going back to the Master’s for inspiration in droves but yet the work produced is completely modern. Witness Jeremy Lipking, et all…It cannot help but to be contemporary since we are all products of this time and place. The NY art scene is often vapid and devoid of meaning.

  One-man group show by Greg Freedman, New Westminster, BC, Canada  

“This Time I Mean It”
acrylic painting, 36 x 60 inches
by Greg Freedman

I think I suffered from the same condition as Karen J. Jones. Peter Ohler, the noted Canadian art dealer, once told me he liked my work but he thought my exhibition looked like a group show. My problem seemed to stem from my need to compete rather than any love-struck admiration as Karen’s does. I would see a piece by another more successful artist and think, I can do that — and I can do it better. I wouldn’t copy that artist’s work but I would find his (they were always male) composition technique, themes, colour choices or subject matter creeping into my work. Of course the resulting paintings were seldom successful because the motive for making them was false. They didn’t come from within but from some insecure place of self-doubt that valued what others achieved more than what I could achieve on my own. Peter helped me start to get beyond that insecurity (and became my dealer) by asking me, “Who are YOU?” He encouraged me to search my background for subject matter, insight and emotional connection that no one else could bring to the easel but me. I am still a one-man group show but now it is because I am fascinated by several genres and refuse to restrict myself to the pursuit of any one exclusively. I still like to dabble in the mystery of it all and hope that will help me to avoid the pitfalls of expertise and keep my work fresh and lively.   Media celibacy good prescription by Mary Susan Vaughn, Charlotte, NC, USA  

“Charlotte Summer”
oil painting
by Mary Vaugjn

I am relieved to discover that I am not the only creative with confidence issues, and now that you have identified the condition as CCP, I feel better already. Your suggestion is spot-on — to begin a new life of media celibacy. I, too, look at other’s artwork for inspiration, only to hear this voice in my head telling me that my work is terrible or not good enough. I, too, wanted to be that artist who was so talented, popular, teaching workshops, having exhibitions, and winning competitions. In many ways, I recognize that much of an artist’s popularity can be attributed to marketing and participation in the visual arts community — getting the work out there. “That” is definitely my problem — a lack of marketing and involvement in the visual arts community has left me feeling inadequate as an artist and wishing I was “this artist” or “that artist” or some other artist than the one that is “me.” Maybe now, thanks to Karen’s asking for help, I can now focus on what is in my soul, rather than trying to copy another artist’s style or work. There is 1 comment for Media celibacy good prescription by Mary Susan Vaughn
From: sharon cory — May 31, 2011

Love the painting!

  Mastery avoids dalliance and confusion by oliver, TX, USA  

digital photograph
by oliver

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche had a theory over man that is highly complex and a subject of much debate and study, but very simplistically that you should master something and then choose to master something else (presumptively greater) and then do it again. In the context of this person’s comment, I question whether she is taking the time to master any of these alternative styles or media. If not, she is just dallying and perhaps confusing her audience (galleries and etc, too). If she has truly mastered and said everything she has to say in any one of them, perhaps it is time to move on to new goals, new media, new subjects, new styles. Without change and growth the artist can become a “one trick” pony. Many artists, while known for one media or phase, make significant works in other media. Think about Picasso. Many/Most think of him and cubism — but he was a master sculptor, could draw and realistically paint and had his other phases — e.g. his blue period, rose period, African influenced period — in many cases one media or one “period” feeding the others or next periods. Do something, learn it, master it, push it to your/its limits and then do something new, learn it master it, fuse it with what you have already mastered, push it to your/its limits and start something new — or maybe time away has given you new insights on something you have already done. Don’t dally — dig and work it — but don’t get stuck in a rut or repeat yourself.   Energy best spent on own vision by Linda Saccoccio, Santa Barbara, CA, USA  

“3rd Chakra Manipura Solar Plexus”
oil painting
by Linda Saccoccio

I always feel a vastness when I find what I am discovering and articulating reflected back precisely in the world around me, as it is in this letter. Yesterday, I spoke with a person from the Artist Conference Network group that was formed almost 3 months ago. We are mutually coaching each other. I spoke to her about how I am filling my own shoes now and feeling good in those shoes. I am standing in the world ready to be the unique person that I am and the world is responding in a new way that is opening up opportunities. Like Karen, I, too, used to become impassioned by other people’s creativity and brilliance. I, too, wanted to be them in all their magnificent expression whether it be a chanter, an acrobat, a writer or a visual artist. To a degree, I was hiding in their shadow willing to help uplift them, using precious energy that left me neglecting my own visions. As I am preparing for a solo exhibition that I have orchestrated, having a scholar present to speak on the subject of the paintings and having Indian music to set the mood of the Chakra paintings, I have shifted. I can say that your statement rings true: by identifying unhealthy habits and views, their power over me has been dispelled, allowing me to be the artist I am exuberantly.   Stop flirting, be honest by Claudio Ghirardo, Mississauga, ON, Canada  

original painting
by Claudio Ghirardo

I do wholeheartedly agree with you in finding confidence in your own work and not be in someone else’s shoes. Frank Frazetta, a well known fantasy illustrator and considered by many to be the best, once said that to be an artist you need to follow your own way. If you copy someone else, you are a mechanic. However, if you find attraction to the works of others, I see no reason to try that “style” yourself and see what happens. They said Picasso found inspiration in the works of others but he tended to put his own spin on it and Pissarro left impressionism for a while taking up pointillism. When he went back to Impressionism, he came up with a unique combination which was considered to be some of his strongest work. My suggestion is, don’t leave the work you are doing but experiment with the works you see and try them out but don’t lose yourself in it. I once met an up-and-coming cartoonist who imitated his hero so well everyone thought the work was done by the cartoonist he loved. Having heard that so many times, the young talent destroyed all of his work because he was distraught that it wasn’t his “style,” it was someone else’s and I haven’t since him since. Try the works of others and learn what you can from them but make it your own in the end or, as someone once said to me, “Stop flirting with me and be honest!” There are 2 comments for Stop flirting, be honest by Claudio Ghirardo
From: Mishcka — May 30, 2011

A good painting Claudio. About Karen Jones dilemma, in the three paintings of hers that you’ve shown I see a consistency of style. The paintings are rich and lush; soft edges, imaginative color, minimalist design. Don’t tell me I’m the only one who sees this. Perhaps she is inspired by other artist’s work but expresses it in her own style, and doesn’t give herself the credit.

From: Dayle Ann Stratton — May 31, 2011

I had precisely the same response, Mishcka. Regardless of medium used or topic, there was a consistency across Karen Jones’ work that spoke of integration and perception and a well-developed sense of artistic integrity. I don’t think I’d call Karen an “art flirt”. I did get a kick out of the sense of humor that both she and Robert brought into the discussion. That’s a tipoff for us, I think. It’s a serious discussion for many of us, but I think Karen is, as another respondent put it, and you so eloquently echoed, simply falling in love with other artists’ work (as we all do), and integrating that influence into her own very unique explorations. Beautiful paintings. Karen, if you are an art flirt, it is serving you well.

  In search of The Time Traveler by Beverly Galante, Austin, TX, USA  

“The Time Traveler”
original painting
by Beverly Galante

I am enjoying your twice-a-week letters and have loved reading these now for a few years. I’ve just recently returned to painting after years and absolutely too many years of doing stained glass window commissions. Phew — I’m tired. But I find that I am really fired up about painting again. I create from my mind almost solely now. It is so much fun and so delightful and my heart sings. However… I find that I am frightened that people won’t like it and that I won’t be accepted back into the world of art. But — just recently I was juried into a regional show, juried by a curator of our local prestigious museum and I danced for joy! Someone liked my work! Then this week I went to see an exhibit where three of my works were supposed to be and one was missing. My heart sunk. Someone… one of my peers perhaps, didn’t like it enough to hang it where it would be seen by exhibit goers. I’ve asked where it was hung and nobody knows. I’m investigating, but I’m almost certain it wasn’t stolen. There is someone there day and night to keep watch. I am sending you a picture. It’s called The Time Traveler and I’ve used acrylics and laser photos. Now, I’ve almost gotten off the track of what I wanted to say. Hmmm. Oh well, you know these artists. There are 2 comments for In search of The Time Traveler by Beverly Galante
From: Nina Allen Freeman — May 31, 2011

the chairman of the show should know where it is – i hope it hasn’t been stolen! That happen to me once and it is heart breaking! Good luck.

From: Anna — May 31, 2011

Maybe it’s sold?


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Art flirt

From: Ann Davis — May 26, 2011

You say you are ready to give up your pets?? to who?? would that be your ultimate sacrifice or is your soul up for sale too?

From: Jean Burman — May 26, 2011

Karen Jones… the world loves you just the way you are. Your artwork is wonderful! Now turn off the computer. Stop reading those art magazines. And call a moratorium on all future art exhibition openings/exposes/expositions and/or workshops. Go instead to your studio… put on some music… kick off your shoes and paint paint paint [the glass of champagne is optional!]I’ll do the same at this end… and we’ll meet back here in a year and compare notes. No scratch that. We won’t compare [in case of a relapse]… we’ll just show the world what we’re made of… and what we made of it… [in paint]Okay… you start :-) “The snowgoose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself” Lao Tzu

From: Marvin Humphrey, Napa Valley — May 26, 2011

The biggest inhibitor to making art, is the thought that whatever you do must be completely unique. Go ahead and use those techniques you’ve picked up from others; the more work you do, the more your personal distinct style will develop.

From: Susan Stetson, New Castle, NH — May 27, 2011

Karen, I think I agree with Robert and Jean Burman. In fact I think I’ll follow their advice as well. I confess I’ve been looking at books, magazines and exhibits to compare my work after submitting a series of paintings to become a member of a NH art association…and having a critique of my work with the denial. Turning on the music, kicking off my shoes and getting to work sounds like a better plan. I love (but not covet) your pastels. Okay let’s get to work.

From: Margie Cohen — May 27, 2011

Oh No! Such nice work!! Now I want to paint like Karen!!

From: Donna — May 27, 2011

Oh My Goodness…..this letter really hit home with me…. I am JUST like Karen (infact, I am now coveting HER pastel talents!!!) LOL. As I get ready to set off for yet ANOTHER art workshop, Robert’s prescription has given me food for thought…I really do have to look inward and find my own creative soul. Thank you!!

From: Sandy Sandy — May 27, 2011

I enjoyed this letter on CCP. You can’t learn style from books, magazines or art on the internet. Style is an evolution that happens after countless attempts and failures. If you are not afraid to “go to your room”, work hard, trust your instincts, experiment and FAIL, there comes a time when your own personality and voice will become evident in your work. Looks like you are already there, Karen. So, enjoy your own style and life without comparing it to that of others.

From: shelleygirl — May 27, 2011

My case is worse than Karen’s. I’d give up my children to be able to paint the way the artists I admire do.

From: Sheron — May 27, 2011

I started on the same path, with no style of my own. There was no satisfaction. Copying another artists style is only work and stress. Finally, I began to experiment, let my creativity flow on expendable supports. I kept all that I loved for future reference. I developed a style that is me and I can’t wait to get to my studio – on my way now!

From: True Ryndes — May 27, 2011

Yes we are each unique, but we go to classes, drive to workshops, read books, copy paintings and fall in love to learn how others have penetrated those dark woods we all face. Along the way we may consciously or unconsciously “pick up the melodies” of others. I’d like to think Robert and Marvin’s suggestions are not incompatible. Robert is addressing the seriously bleak nature of compulsive inquiry and offers sound advice about moderating your habit. Marvin encourages you to trust your inner synthesizer. You may feel that another artist’s skillful understanding of velatura may catapult your work forward, but I suspect the simple act of sharing this habit reflects a self-righting instinct that will more successfully advance your art and certainly relax your pets. Travellin’ mercies!

From: Jean Mazur — May 27, 2011
From: Dwight — May 27, 2011

Marvin, from Napa Valley, is right. Try to copy. It won’t work perfectly, but you’ll learn a lot and become yourself anyway. We all learn everything we know by copying…how to talk, how we walk, even a lot of what and how we think. But we all end up individuals after all.

From: Dwight — May 27, 2011

And I forgot to say, Karen, you’re work is fine and nothing like mine but I love it. You’re better off than you think. Paint on!!

From: John Ferrie — May 27, 2011

Dear Robert, Being an artist is such a gift. That is not to say we are “gifted”, like so many parents claim their children are these days. But to have the gift to be creative is not something everyone has. We all have our talents, music, dance, writing or multi-tasking. The thing to understand about it, while we are all trying to communicate and be ‘understood’, is to let the work flow through you. Take your influences from any source and while learning how to paint, looking at other works can be a good source of inspiration. The key to any artist, is to make it your own. This is done by spending hours in your studio creating acres of canvas. Never looking back and saying that was my best piece and always knowing you can be better. When looking at another artists work, it is not just what is in front of you that should be inspiring, but the complete journey that brought them to their conclusion. Being inspired to create more and move in another direction is terrific, copying another artists vision is pathetic.

John Ferrie
From: Thierry Talon — May 27, 2011

Best psychological advice Robert has given. Karen, look in the mirror: don’t you want to be that person?

From: Marie Jeanne Mailloux — May 27, 2011

I know this one so well. People keep sending me links to these great artists, and I continue to feel like if only….but I do agree, it’s a matter of getting it at it and finding out what you like to do and how you like to do it and you will find your voice. I’m actually having some fun painting these days and doing less second guessing.

From: Warren Doe — May 27, 2011

When I was in the sixth grade, we had an art teacher come to our class every Friday. It was the highlight of my week. I loved art. I never followed my love for drawing and painting, until I was in my young forties. I realized that the reason that the girl next to me in the sixth grade appeared to be such a great artist, drawing her “perfect” horses, was because she lived with horses! She knew how the foot was placed and the relative proportions of height and stature. Artistic endeavors such as writing or acting in school plays helped, somewhat, to fill the void created by my desire to paint. I was very much like your writer, Karen: Experiencing art, through the works of others. Buying, viewing and collecting the works of artists brought art into to my life, without satisfying my desire. No matter how bad your first works look, it is important to remember that it is a beginning not an end. Always remember Yoda’s famous words: “There is no try, only DO!”

From: Linda Anderson Stewart — May 27, 2011

We are all tempted by the wonderful paintings of others….. emulating them is no crime. It’s all part of see and assessing what’s good work and worth learning from. The trick is to learn the lessons they have to teach and make your own work. I believe it’s impossible to make someone else’s mark…(unless you are into forgery) so look away …soak it up and find a way to take the energy from it into what is yours. Paint what you know!

From: John F. Burk — May 27, 2011

Very, very good. I know it’s dangerous ground, but someone once told me if you don’t love yourself, you can’t love anyone else. I think that may be especially true when referring to your own work.

From: Caroline Planting — May 27, 2011

I really like her work!

From: Rich Mason — May 27, 2011

Thank you for sharing……At least you have now admitted that you have a problem and it appears that Robert has shown you the way to overcome it. You can be your own person and need not blindly copy anyone else. Fortunately for you, he has stepped forward with his (as usual) excellent advice. Hang in there, remember were all pulling for you.

From: Doris Daigle — May 27, 2011

I needed that one today. I’m in a slump the last half year and spend much time looking at others’ work. I moved, tired, searching for something – I am reminded by this that what I am searching for me ME!

From: James Lane — May 27, 2011

I am an abstract artist with a split artistic personality. On the one hand, a perfectionist= GET IT RIGHT! On the other hand a spontaneous abstract artist = JUST DO IT! The perfectionist in me wants a path to follow but the abstract artist wants an adventure to unfold. This butting of heads (even though I only have one) takes an emotional toll and results in a spotty, stop-and-go, on-and-off work habit. What do you suggest?

From: Tina King — May 27, 2011

Owning your creative soul or thumbprint is everlasting and will remain unique! Wonderful read Robert!

From: Candy Simchik — May 27, 2011

Ha! So let’s stop reading and browsing/surfing and PAINT!! Bye bye!

From: Jane Walker — May 27, 2011

It’s a phase you are going through.

From: Catherine Meeks — May 27, 2011

I read the letter from Karen Jones with utter disbelief. I am familiar with her work, we belong to the same art associations, and I have attended one of her pastel demos. It shocks me to hear that a painter of her caliber and at her level of (perceived?) confidence is “falling in love” with someone else’s style. I too have fallen in love the same way. Sometimes I like to have a Sargent day, or a Wolf Kahn day, or a day of meditation to ask myself what exactly it is about someone else’s work that is so appealing. Then, it’s like window shopping at Bloomingdales: is this love, or just infatuation? Usually, just looking at the object of beauty is sufficient.

From: Sharon Knettell — May 27, 2011
From: Jim Lorriman — May 27, 2011

Rudyard Kipling has the right of it. A number of years ago I started teaching and making videos. It is my way of passing on my knowledge. My father asked me why I was giving away all the hard earned secrets that I had learned over the years. I told him that the one thing that my students really needed was the one thing that I couldn’t give them and that my secrets were not worth that much without it. He asked what that was and I told him, “The 20 years of experience it took me to get them”. I was teaching to encourage my students to do the “mileage” so that they could create their own voice.

From: Edna V.Hildebrandt — May 27, 2011

It is an interesting concept to be in love with a work of art to the extent of giving up your own style. It seems more like an obsession a bad habit to be discarded. I admire the work of others that are really exceptional. They have all the qualities of perfect work of art composition, color scheme rendered well even perspective is well planned. I also wish I could produce a work of art that are as beautiful and as excellently done but I won’t go as far as coveting it and copying it. It challenges me to improve on my own work considering all the qualities that would make a good work of art color scheme and color value; all the qualities that make people want to acquire it. Isn’t there a law against it to claim it as your original? I take pride in painting and I will keep trying to create my own style recognizable as my own. It’s something that no one can take away from me.

From: Maritza Bermudez — May 27, 2011

I want to flirt with Karen’s work. Especially those colorful clouds! Karen certainly has the ability and the creativity of her own. I am sure all artists, at one time or another, wished they could accomplish a work of art they see in a gallery or museum. I myself told a friend of mine when we visited a gallery, “Oh how I wish I could come up with something like that!” To which she responded, “but you have!” The problem is we do not see ourselves as good artists, at least good enough to be in high end galleries or museums. I am an artist of art leagues. Have done a few art fairs and a few solo shows. And, in this tough economic times, we are more limited to market ourselves to sell more. I always say, I do not paint to sell, I paint because I love it. If I sell something, then it’s icing on the cake and use it for supplies. I do not stop painting. I keep going and going, with almost no space in my studio for my inventory. I bet you’ll get lots of letters from subscribers who have suffered the “flirting syndrome”.

From: Daniela Sydney Australia — May 27, 2011

Oh! You should so honor your work! Can I say that we all go and wish we were….(in my case Rembrandt and Toulouse Lautrec combined) ahem…Your work is distinct, you have your own style, it is yours and no one elses, it intriques, it has merit. Also, think of this as a party where you meet all these other distinctly individual people and you bring your unique self along and enjoy the process.

From: Theresa Bayer — May 27, 2011

I used to be somewhat of an art flirt. But I realized that the thing other artists had that I lacked was passion. And that’s the one thing that can’t be copied. It has to come from within. Karen, you can find your passion if you just hold still long enough. As Kafka said, “You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”

From: Richard Smith — May 27, 2011

I think the quote by Kipling has said it best. “The Chinese have copied my style! The Brataslavians have copied my brushwork! The guy down the street has copied my subject material!” If everyone has had the chance to copy what you’re doing, then they’re the ones moving forward while you’re standing still. Don’t copy others, be creative. R.

From: Nina Allen Freeman — May 28, 2011

This gift we have is more than an ability to put things on paper or canvas but an ability to think it up in the first place. Working alone, allowing yourself to follow new paths, setting new challenges for yourself can lead to something better than you ever believed you were capable of. I painted a still life a couple of years ago using some different techniques with watercolor and Gouache that I thought up myself to achieve a certain effect in the painting. The painting won a couple of awards and did well. I thought I invented this technique until I went to a workshop this year and lo and behold we were taught how to do all kinds of things with watercolor and Gouache! After getting over my disappointment, I decided I had better step up my game to improve my painting. Other people know the same techniques that I do and probably have more skill in drawing and design. Only I have my particular brand of passion and can bring all of these things together in my paintings.

From: Harriett Masterson — May 28, 2011

Oh no, I’ve been found out! Well, not quite as bad as that, but it might be more appropriately called “art envy,” Even when I walked into the Canada House Gallery in Banff last week, seeing Robert Genn’s original work for the first time, I wanted to switch his medium and his style immediately. Not possible. Loved the work. But, I’ll go back to my pastels and oils and take some of his advice he’s so generously offered week after week.

From: Mary Moquin — May 28, 2011

If you must knock of the work of other artists, choose a dead one. There are plenty of them to be inspired by and copying them is much more acceptable.

From: Paula Timpson — May 28, 2011

Reflect soul shares art reflections images float~ poetry becomes painting, arises from the dust of another’s heart~

From: jcb — May 28, 2011

Karen, you won’t move on as a painter until you buckle down and accept your important responsibilities: stop flirting, don’t subordinate your life to art, and don’t give up your pets!

From: sandy wisecup — May 30, 2011

I relate to Karen. I have had to go ‘cold turkey’ as Robert suggests and avoid looking at all artists’ work at times when I’ve found that it paralyzes me and discourages me. Yes, Robert’s diagnosis is correct for me too, it all stems from a lack of self confidence. I must overcome that, but at the same time, nourish my passion in my studio. I cannot compare my ‘gift’ with another’s gift. How boring if we all painted alike! By the way, Karen, I love your style. It is unique and beautiful. I appreciate your gift and your honesty. Thank you. It is always helpful to realize we are not alone in our stumbling unsteady moments. Especially when that ‘someone’ is an accomplished artist I might tend to want to be like! Thank you for admitting you are human. I read something that Kevin Costner wrote about his beautifully produced film, “Dances With Wolves”. He said that his only regret was that he could never view the completed work with fresh eyes. As an artist, when I create a work, I can never ever see it with fresh eyes as someone else can. I see the areas where I struggled, the wash that didn’t quite explode into perfection, my mistakes, but also the successes. I read once that, I believe it was Michael Angelo said, he never stopped trying to create a masterpiece. He didn’t believe any of his works were masterpieces! I look at other artists work, and do not see the flaws they see, I see their passion and their gift visualized. We are too harsh on ourselves, too demanding and expect perfection. You and I, we must try to focus on our passion. OUR passion. Period. Unfortunately we can never see it with fresh eyes, but if we created it with passion we can know that it will reflect it. That is really all I want.

From: Bruce Meyer — May 30, 2011

An inspirational phrase helps me focus: “You never understood that it ain’t no good, you shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you.” I take that to mean to find it inside, and make something that you put together in your own processes.

From: Faye Gordon-Lewis — May 30, 2011

On viewing Karen Jones’ images, I think she is onto something good. All she has to do now is – as was said, is – to jump in.

From: Karen R. Phinney — May 31, 2011

I too have felt like Karen, falling in love with others’ work and feeling that I could try doing it “that way”. Over the years, I’ve experimented with many different things. I think we are all influenced in one way or another by what we see others doing. I will still experiment, but have come home to my own style. I changed after an experience told me “I wasn’t good at that particular thing” and now I do a kind of expressionistic work. My artist pals tell me this is “me”, and I feel good about it as well. Colourful and fanciful. It is fun to do. But I am also influenced a bit by the work of Matisse and Van Gogh (others say my work reminds them of those guys). We are all inspired by someone sometime! I am not copying, but there are themes and influences for sure, that I have incorporated. There is nothing new under the sun!

From: Judy Silver — May 31, 2011

An anonymous quote I came across gave me much food for thought, “Love who you are – and who you are not.” It isn’t necessarily an art quotation but it is meaningful none the less.

From: Barbara Mitchell — May 31, 2011

Thanks for putting yourself out there–all of you. I’ve been stuck for awhile and I’ve done a lot of ‘flirting’. In fact I’ve trolled the web for landscape painings that I love, copied them, and (citing them properly, of course!) created a personal PowerPoint. I spend a lot of Sunday mornings viewing the landscape paintings longingly. As the months have gone on I’ve come to realize that each one carries a germ of who I am as a painter; reflects back to me something of the spirit or the technique I want to achieve. It’s been an agonizing process but finally I’m beginning to ask the paintings the right questions and they are beginning to elicit some of the right answers. For me the salvation has been in having over a hundred wonderful styles, not just one, on which to diffuse my infatuation!

From: Gloria Marshall — May 31, 2011

Inspiration for Karen: The beautiful words of the Russian Poet – Fyodor Tyutchev (1803-1873) from his poem “Silentium” “Know to live within yourself – a whole world is in your soul” Gloria Marshall

From: sherry — May 31, 2011

I love Picasso’s quote about this: “Bad artists copy–great artists steal”.

From: Selwyn Owen — Jun 01, 2011

Dear Mr Genn, Thank you for showing me the way; your way . Whilst being helpful, entertaining and quietly direction giving;I think that you may have either overlooked or overpainted the aspect of Influence . To some degree, we are all effected by the amount of daylight, the changing shadows, and what we look at; including that last sculpture or painting.The intellectual aspect of putting pen to paper would allow us to be influenced by what we last read; as well as what we envisioned. I am on my own road , influencd daily and not lost on my journey. I paint for the sake of painting. I take no prisoners , and I may be open to some creative criticism if it comes with any real authority. When I reflect on the art schools of old; one could not help but be influenced while being taught, because as Warhol said, it is a Factory after all. There is room for the individual as well the group. Co operative approaches them selves are one method of sharing and growing. I could go on, but I think that I have made a dent in the canvas……Regards, Sell Owen

From: jill Charuk — Jun 01, 2011

Your last comment about only surfing the art sites on the net when you have had a good art day was dead on. I would also tell artists to watch out for ‘Workshop Contamination”. After a day or a week with another artist it is easy to lose your own style.

It often takes a time to get the good stuff out of the course without the confusion of following someone else’s style. Avoiding galleries, artbooks and the web is a good idea when putting together a body of work. Envy gives you green eyes.
From: Asta Dale — Jun 01, 2011

It amazes me how you always find interesting subject matter in the extensive field of Art! It makes reading your twice weekly letter most enjoyable! Regarding the Art ‘flirt’, I believe that all artists have to go through ‘practicing’ the different styles of art making to find their own ‘inner’ artist. . In a way it is like having an apprenticeship – it makes you think and react differently about projects and that stretches your mind which in turn encourages you to think out of the box. It is a challenge to find different solutions to the same problem.

From: Liz Reday — Jun 01, 2011

It pains me to see that a large portion of the posts from women, including myself, expressing the feeling that we’re not good enough. Is this good, this humility? The men artists never seem to betray this lack of self confidence, they’re all bluster and boldness, they don’t “copy, they steal” to quote Picasso. As women we are so admiring of other artists, which is good, but sometimes I think maybe we should have more strength and power and sense of our own ability to forge our way as artists. The observation of the “workshop syndrome” is especially apt, as most workshops consist of women and more than half are led by men. I do think there comes a time when we do have to go back to our studios and just paint the heck out of everything we can get our hands on- but that’s hard to do when you doubt your own ability, or if you feel that everybody paints better than you do. In order to get in a full days work painting confidently and boldly, we need to pump ourselves up and shout out a few affirmations! Get up our mojos ladies, summon the muse and fling the paint around. Maybe we need to have a virtual pow-wow painting cheerleader camp. We can do it girls! Only look at art that makes you feel inspired, that turns you on and makes you want to get to work. We all need to find our personal mantra, and maybe a little wild delusion to usher in queens of confidence.

From: Sid Pacilio — Jun 03, 2011

A lot of the work I see practically gives me hives. I really don’t like it at all. Then there is the stuff that makes me itch, and really drives me crazy: the stuff that not only is not to my taste, but looks blissfully free of the application of skill. I think my taste is too well honed to be lead around by the nose at every show. I’m not suggesting this is a good thing, because it’s a pain walking past a hundred pictures to be stopped in your tracks by only a single one. Seriously, the fact is, I probably wouldn’t give my own work the time of day, but I’m thankful others appreciate a wider range of work than do I.

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The Voice of the Turtle is Heard 4

oil painting, 18 x 24 inches by Mark Kuhne, MN, USA

  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 Leslie Tejada of Corvallis, OR, USA, who wrote, “When faced with an awe-inspiring painting, as yourself, ‘What is it specifically that I like about this painting?’ Therein lies a link to your own innate style.” And also Jean Burman of Australia who sent this quote: “‘The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.’ —Lao Tzu”    

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