A Measure of Success

How do you measure success? For me, the measure of my success is gauged by how much I’ve grown in a specific area. Like a fitness plan, if the goal is to lose weight and I can see the pounds coming off, then voila, success!

My constant goal is to be better at executing my art and in that vein, I subject my paintings to constant comparisons – sometimes to that of other artists but more often to art I’ve created previously because I am only as good as my last painting. We all have our favorites and then there are those creations that are recycled or painted over – much to my husband’s chagrin – because I have no desire to hold on to works that I feel are subpar or that I’ve lost interest in.

Then there are those that, at the time of creation, I thought were fairly good (sometimes great). Those are the pieces I hold onto even though I sometimes cringe as they pale in comparison to more recent work. I keep them because they are great indicators of my growth, therefore my success as an artist.

When I think of growth, I’m not talking changing my style of painting or making art. A change in style is acceptable and expected as an artist matures, but a noticeable change in technique, composition, color harmony, etc., are, I feel, better indicators of growth, therefore success. Often when I look at some of my earlier works, I think “do over” and challenge myself to a rematch.

There are not many things in life that allow us the privilege of a do-over. Luckily for us artists, do-overs are available at any time. All we need is a fresh canvas, piece of paper, sketchpad, chalk board, piece of clay, wood, some wire, cloth, yarn – whatever our medium, and we can start again, and again, and again until we think we’ve got it right…

Until the next time we stop to measure our growth.

Which brings me to these two paintings. I am still not overjoyed with my execution of the hands on the lower image, but boy oh boy, I think I’ve traveled a great distance towards crossing the line of success with this painting. As for the top painting, which is well over 10 years old, I am planning a do-over very soon. I’ll keep you posted.

As long as I continue to work at my craft in earnest and I can see some growth, I am happy. Sometimes I grow by skips and hops, other times by leaps and bounds! Either way, with growth success is eminent.

What yardstick or scale do you use to measure your success? Drop me line below.

Opportunity

A friend posted a question on FB recently asking: “What do you think of when you see the word employment?” There were a few words that rushed to my cerebral cortex but only one came bolded, italicized and underlined – opportunity.  

Some of the other words included slavery, imprisonment, and sacrifice. Actually, those were the first words that came to life, but just as quickly conflicting words like freedom, and achievement popped up. Then it didn’t’ take long for “opportunity” to check in, and once it was there, there was no keeping it quiet.

Initially, employment brings a little (or a lot) of freedom. When I began working as a teenager, making my own money gave me the freedom to buy my own clothes, go places, and purchase items I wanted without relying on my parents. Later, my job afforded me the chance to move out on my own and live by my own rules. When I became pregnant out-of-wedlock with my first child I was secure in a job that allowed me to keep and care for my child without returning home to momma’s house. Eventually I could afford a car, a house, a vacation or two a year, and many frivolous non-essential items and experiences.have to work

So, you may ask, where did such words as slavery, imprisonment and sacrifice come from? Well, for one, my grandmother. She had many colorful colloquialisms, one of which was “Go to work slave!” Fast forward many years when my kids are grown and my body is creaking and I look back and see that I’ve spent all of the money I made over so many years. Now the economy is not doing so well and the mortgage is cutting into vacation funds and I NEED to work simply to maintain what I already worked so hard to achieve. Those mornings when my body begs for more sleep or those afternoons when I just don’t want to think, let alone work, those evenings when I can barely stay awake long enough to eat, those are the times when I feel constricted. When the sun is shining and I just want to play or I want to work in my studio, spend my days painting and creating but can’t afford to blow off work, I feel trapped. When my entire paycheck is obligated to bills I’m frustrated by my dependency to my job. Now I know what grandma was talking about.

But wait here it comes again – that word opportunity. Employment gives me the opportunity to learn new things, things I probably would not look to learn on my own. OJT is invaluable. Also, being employed introduces me to new people every day. It teaches me to be multi-cultural as I am exposed to the diversity of my coworkers and our clients. And when I meet new people inevitably I meet someone whose interests match mine and we become friends. Sometimes I meet people who know people who can further my education, offer me better employment or invest in my dreams.

Speaking of which, being employed gives me the opportunity to dream freely. I can work at my own small business part-time until the opportunity presents itself for me to move forward on my own and experience the freedom of being successfully self-employed. And having that dream is what makes me show up every day to a job I don’t necessarily want to go to, until I can answer the knock I know is coming.

Go to work slave. And keep an eye and an ear open for opportunity!