I am a firm believer in the “Law of Attraction.” I know, it’s almost become a trite social philosophy today, but my life has shown it to be true, nevertheless. What one gives usually comes back in kind. A sour expression elicits negative interaction. A generous soul never seems to want for anything significant. Here’s the thing about artists. In my unscientific way of polling the data, I am pretty convinced that the artists who freely give their work, talent, energy and creativity generously are those who get paid generously. I don’t mean they give their work away free, although some do. I mean they teach, share, advise, critique, encourage and support without expecting anything in return. What an anomaly in such a competitive world. Still, my best artist friends are extremely positive and generous in encouraging and supporting other artists. They create around themselves a world of such generous creative energy that the boundaries of life just constantly seem to expand. I have just finished the John Salminen workshop this week with the Utah Watercolor Society. John and his wife, Kathy, embody this principle to perfection. They gave and gave and gave and the results were dramatic to all who attended. I can just feel my life about to explode outward and can’t wait to return all that I received to my own art students at Ree Art Studio and Ree’s painting pARTies.
How does a parent encourage their child in their art? When parents ask me this, I often tell them that in general, there are two kinds of parents. Those who say, "That's very good. Keep it up!" and those who say, "What is it? Don't do that." The first kind of encouragement usually produces artists who are adventurous, courageous and spontaneous. The second kind of criticism usually drives children away from art long before they even get started. If the child does keep going, they spend the rest of their artistic endeavors trying to create to please others. I think I have developed just about the perfect way for parents to encourage their children as they discover their emerging artistic talents. Never. Let me repeat this again. Never ask: “What is it?” Always. Let me repeat this again. Always say: “Tell me about your work.” Believe me, they will tell you. What to you may seem a complete jumble of badly colored forms and shapes may be a wonderland of dreams and adventures to your child. “Tell me about it,” encourages your child to “teach” you a thing or two about seeing.