Artists' Webs of Support / by Jeannine Cook

Most artists are fairly solitary people, per force... It is therefore all the more magical - and important - when there is a web of people around who support, encourage and empower artists.

I have been reminded once again of this aspect of life. Living in a very rural part of coastal Georgia, artist friends usually live far away. Networks of fellow artists are much more present, in today's world, through the Internet and other such communications, than previously. That helps a lot. But artists' nearest and dearest family members are probably the most important sources of encouragement, honesty and appreciation. It makes a great difference if an artist can trust and respect the opinions and observations of a spouse, for instance. Whether it is painting, drawing or writing, I know that if I see a look of puzzlement or quizzical amusement on my husband's face, I need to go and do some rethinking about the project. He is the one who always reminds me, "Keep it simple"... very necessary often as I tend to love detail. He is my most respected critic.

Beyond family and fellow artists, there are other circles of support that are invaluable. Gallery personnel, if an artist works through gallery representation, forms the first circle, but for many of us who prefer to represent ourselves, the collectors of one's art become an important part of life. Many, many of the people who have been nice enough to like my art have become dear personal friends - a wonderful bonus. Their encouragement, especially when they return to acquire more art, carries one though periods of self-doubt. They help one to "hang on to one's star" and to continue listening to one's inner voice that tells one to go on trying to grow as an artist.

Another shining circle of supporters, that makes me feel validated and very lucky, is comprised of museum curators and directors, professionals in academia, the arts and others whose own achievements I hugely respect. When I turn to them for help or advice, I am very aware of the value of the support given by these busy people.

When I feel I am floundering as an artist, I remind myself of all these support webs around me. And then the word that comes into my mind is, "Adelante!" ... a simple Spanish word for "get on with it!". And off I start again as an artist...