Great Things

Favorite artist? Why me, of course. 

Wait before you judge. There is a reason for my rating. An early mentor, Ron Campbell, rather abruptly gave me this advice after a particularly wearying session of self-critique, “if you don’t like your work, don’t expect others to like it either.” He suggested I look at each piece, isolate what I liked about it and what needed improving, and work on retaining the good and improving the rest. We don’t forge ahead in every area at once; sometimes, it’s by bits and pieces. 

Ron insisted on giving me space in his gallery in Ottowa even though I was completely new to sculpture and a beginning carver. Two of my very early abstract pieces sold that fall, and the sales gave me a bit of a financial boost and some much-needed confidence to keep going.

So it’s essential to like your own work. You can go too far in this. Strutting around like a rampant peacock is OK if you are a peacock, but it is unattractive in an artist. Liking your work is one thing; equating yourself with Dali, Arp, DaVinci, or Rembrandt is something else.

So here is the scoop. Enjoy your work for all its positive features. Then, place yourself in perspective. Whose studio or shop would you be an apprentice or journeyman in? 

As I style myself as a ship’s carver, I can see myself as an apprentice in the shops of McIntire, Bellamy, Robb, or one of the Skillins brothers. When I visit the Mystic Seaport or Salem’s Peabody Essex Museum, I find myself standing among the works of those I consider my masters. So yes, I am my favorite, in a way. But I have a perspective on where I stand among those with much to teach me.

Or as Van Gogh said: “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”