For Your Eyes Only.

When I was five I went through a phase of drawing one particular kind of picture over and over again: a long line that curved all around the page, punctuated with blobs. Don’t ask me what I was trying to represent or what I thought it meant because I have no clue. It was just an idea I had in my head that I had to get down. Another kid saw me making one of these drawings at school and said it was ugly. The teacher overheard this and told me I shouldn’t care what anyone else thought, that I should draw what made me happy.

And that’s a nice idea but it’s not really that simple, is it? Unless you’re making something that you’re never planning to show to anyone the idea is going to be in your head that you hope other people like it. You may even make compromises, or at least decisions based on what you think other people will like, what you think they want. The romantic notion of the misunderstood artist who is only truly appreciated after laboring in obscurity for a long time is a popular one but it very rarely works that way. Most artists who eventually become successful get a lucky break. They get someone who likes what they’re doing and who has enough sway to convince a lot more people to like what they’re doing, or they get enough exposure that they find an audience.

Or sometimes they change what they’re doing.

When Picasso showed his painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon to a bunch of his friends they laughed and said it was ugly. He put it away for twenty years. I guess he liked it too much to destroy it, but it took a really long time for it to be considered a landmark of modern art.

Source: Wikipedia

And while the are a lot of Picasso’s works I do like I think his friends were right about Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. It’s really ugly.

I didn’t stop drawing those kinds of pictures because that kid said one was ugly. I stopped drawing those kinds of pictures because I got bored with drawing the same kind of picture over and over. But I’d never had any interest in showing them to anyone else, they weren’t for anyone else, so it didn’t matter. His criticism still stuck with me, though. I didn’t like being told my picture was ugly. Maybe I quit drawing those kinds of pictures because being happy was making me bitter and resentful.

Have you ever made something that no one else liked but that made you happy?

 

8 Comments

  1. Red

    I am not a fan of Picasso. There I said it. My taste runs to Van Gogh. Or Salvador Dali. Yeah. Widely disparate artists, but no Picasso, thanks!

    I think of my blog as a place I do what I please and don’t cater to an audience. I used to make a point to add pictures because people like that, but since picking it back up this year, I’m less concerned with that. Unless I have a picture, or require one to illustrate a thought or event, who cares?

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s okay to not be a fan of Picasso. Or any particular artist. Taste is an individual thing, at least in my personal opinion.
      And I think of a blog, anyone’s blog, as their home, or at least their personal space. If someone doesn’t like your blog that’s their problem. If you like it that’s what matters.

      Reply
  2. Ann Koplow

    To answer your question, Chris: yes, many times. This post also made me happy.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Thank you. Your comments always make me happy.

      Reply
  3. mydangblog

    I was going to be cutesy and answer, “Yes–roasted cauliflower”, but there are definitely other things I do simply because I like doing them, and it doesn’t matter what other people think. I write for myself, and I’m glad that some people enjoy it (mostly my family) but I’d still do it anyway!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Hey, I like roasted cauliflower too. And you’ve made me think about the saying that if you do what you love you’ll always be happy to go to work. Well, a variation of that might be that if you write only for yourself you never have to worry about rejection.

      Reply
  4. Arionis

    I went through a phase when I was a kid where I drew a lot of pictures of a volcano erupting and causing mayhem. My teacher talked to my parents because she was “concerned”. Luckily, Star Wars came out shortly thereafter and I started drawing X-Wing fighters blowing up Death Stars instead.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      As kids we draw a lot of strange things, don’t we? It’s a natural phase of life. I guess though that your teacher didn’t realize that a Death Star being destroyed would technically cause a lot more mayhem than a volcano.

      Reply

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