Get Over Yourself and Come Out of the Closet as an Artist

By April 26, 2014Uncategorized

My dear friend Maggie puts it this way, “Get OVER yourself!”

Bottom line- I think all of us are basically insecure about our art and though we profess to do it for our own enjoyment, we hope that others will relate and enjoy our work too. Showing our work causes many of us to be transported back to those times as a kid when we shared our crayon creations and looked for affirmation.  It may not have been there.  I still feel about 5 years old every time I bring a painting out for the first time. I know I’m not alone in my insecurity…many of my students can still recall hurtful things which were said to them as a kid (or God-forbid as an adult) about their artful endeavors.  Those comments can resound in our heads, but we can’t let the jerks of the past bully us into being closeted artists in the present.  If we do, then the bullies win!  What’s even worse, is when we BELIEVE what unsupportive people have said about our work.  Here’s some thoughts for you…


Being in the closet is not a healthy place to be.  It’s an indication of insecurity, and it’s isolating.  However, there IS an inherent risk to being an artist which takes confidence that you may not feel. What do you do then?  It can help to cultivate an audience.  It helps with developing confidence, which is the key.

Cultivate a Kind Audience

The biggest asset one can have as an artist is a supportive family.  Those of you who have artists in your life…ENCOURAGE THEM!!  They need it!!
Here are some ideas for affirming and helpful phrases:
If you know an artist: these would be perfect to use when viewing their work.  
If you’re an artist with family members who are NOT saying what you need to hear: share these phrases with them.  Use them as examples of how they could help you, and how they could best respond when you share your work…after all, sometimes we have to ASK FOR WHAT WE NEED, right?

Examples of Things to say when an Artist shares their work with you:
“When I look at your painting, the first thing I notice is…”
“My favorite part of it is…”
“I really like…”
“I’m so glad that you are painting.  I love having you share what you’ve been doing with me…”
“I’m glad to see what’s been keeping you so busy…”
“Your painting makes me think of…”
“Tell me about your painting…I’d like to know more…”
“Is there something new you tried here?  Tell me about it…”

A suggestion for Artists prior to unveiling your work: Find someone you trust or a group whose assessments you trust and look to them for helpful evaluation, critique and encouragement before you share it with potentially unsupportive people or with the general public.  That way, your artwork will be as ready as it can be for display.  I provide this service to students and try to get them ready for sharing publicly without embarrassment.  I think that their efforts to seek critique and suggestions create a good cycle of events which goes something like this…They paint, I critique,  they edit, which allows them to have better work, which then helps them be more likely to receive good feedback from others, which encourages them to do more, which then results in the student getting better and better.  After all, the more we do, the better we get, right?

Find a safe place to get helpful critique and cultivate a safe audience by possibly asking for the type of response you need…It’s a great 1-2 punch in the gut to the ghosts of the past which may haunt you and breed insecurity.  If you do, I predict you’ll have better results and be encouraged to produce more quality work.

Rebecca Zdybel
Artist, Instructor, Art-Travel Instructor
Art Lessons in all media
Myrtle Beach, SC

Spread Light, Share Love, DO Art!

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Author Rebecca Zdybel

Artist, Instructor, Art-Travel Instructor - Spread Light, Share Love, DO Art! Rebecca Z Artist (Rebecca Zdybel) is an artist and instructor in Myrtle Beach, SC. She blogs and teaches locally and internationally. Sign up for her blog, classes, workshops, art travel tours, or see her work at

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