Sunday, November 3, 2013

What Is The Most Important Thing Every Artist Needs?

You could say any of the following answer;  a #7 Kolinsky Sable Paintbrush, a studio with North light, an inspiration, a muse, a dog who sleeps beside your easel as you paint, a porcelain palette, a loft, a car with a big trunk for taking painting to your exhibitions, a never ending supply of painting ideas.........well, these are all nice useful things, but they are not the most important thing an artist needs.

Every artist needs a really, really, good, supportive friend. If the artist is really lucky, they have 2 or more. You cannot find a really, really, good , supportive friend in any of the art supply catalogs or the art stores. I know because I have looked and they don't carry anything like this at all.

You have to find your friend, out there in the world. Probably you will find your friend(s) when you are pursuing some sort of  art activity. Here are the qualities to look for:
they have to really like you,
they have to never criticize your work, but they can give you supportive, constructive ideas,
they have to like your artwork,
they have to be genuinely interested in you and your artwork, 
they have to have your back as the kids say, or want the best for you,
they have to be a lot of fun to be with,
they have to share at least a few of your interests other then making art,
they have to have a good sense of humor and laugh at your jokes, 
they have to tell interesting stories,
they have to say outrageously positive things about you and your work from time to time, 
and they have to want to get together and join you in activities and going places.

Gwen Gibson, who recently passed, was all of these things and more. I first met her when I went to teach at the home she restored in France especially for art retreats. When I knocked on the front door, she poked her head out of the shuttered window on the 2nd floor of the house and greeted me in her melodic voice. She showed myself and Eileen around her house and then asked us to stay to dinner and quickly cooked us a 5 star meal of Duck Comfit. We loved her apartment on the top floor of her home, the red/orange walls and lace curtains and French flea market finds made it a place we never wanted to leave. She later came to my new home and helped me rearrange furniture and helped me try to make my house look like a country French cottage.
Gwen was a talented artist in mixed media, polymer clay jewelry, painting and drawing and many other mediums. Her work reflected her interest in the world and her humor and sense of whimsy. When I met her she was interested in learning a bit about watercolor. As I showed her the techniques she took off and did the most wonderful paintings and then turned around and gave them to me. Every day I enjoy the artwork she generously shared with me and I miss her less when I see she has left such a wonderful trail of art behind.
She once told me that my watercolor painting reminded her of Monet's work. That was an outrageously positive and nice thing to say. She encourages me in all my endeavors and sent me books on my interests. On my last visit with her, she insisted I take one of her art books and some how magically, I found on her shelf one of the watercolor books I had been wanting for a very long time. Now, that Gwen has passed I miss her a lot and I try to think about all of her qualities and pick a few I can emulate so I can be a better artist friend. It's hard to be that interested, nice and talented but I want to try.
A corner of Gwen's apartment at La Cascade

Two great friends I am lucky to have, left- Nancy Holtz and right-Gwen Gibson 


Anonymous said...

Thank you Barbara for that wonderful message..xoxo

Last Cup Of Coffee said...

glad you had such a wonderful experience with such a great friend!

dayle doroshow said...

lovely post Barbara! I miss Gwen so much and hope we can get together soon!

Say It In Color said...

I have moved to a different town downsizing for later years and moved from the friend that was THAT for me...and I miss her! BUT when I paint or think over something I seem to go back to the talks we had, or laughter at something serious to soften the day or the encouragement she gave and so I have her in my memory and draw upon those times ever so ofter as I plot my way in a new place. I so love this POST because I needed to reflect but more, I needed to ask if I AM OR COULD BE THAT kind of friend? Love the chair, lace cloth and orange vibrant but warm walls in that cozy corner!!