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  1. #1
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    Encouragement vs. Flattering

    Hey. I have a young friend who seems discouraged with art. I do not want to flatter her and say she is good in aspects that she is not, but I still want to encourage her to continue drawing.
    Flattery not only will give one a false sense of pride, but also insecurity because she will start to think, "Does he really think that", thus I want to be genuine as possible in order to keep my integrity with her.
    How would I go about encouraging her? She is not "excellent" but her drawings have potential.
    "You have potential, keep drawing" and "Good, but it would also look good with smoother lines" does not seem to be working for her anymore.


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  3. #2
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    Maybe this isn't the right thing to say.

    But sometimes people have to feel like shit for awhile, they've got to figure things out on their own. Being able to overcome obstacles is part of any worthwhile journey, it is likely as an artist, your friend will be overcoming obstacles for her entire life. I expect that from mine, anyway.

    I think perhaps the best thing you can do is to not focus so much on her artwork. Take her out for a nice walk, play some video games and enjoy another aspect of life for awhile. There's a lot of life to live, and you never know what you might find to give you a completely different outlook on things.

    Don't tell her that outright, "You need to figure this out on your own". Just let her know you believe in her, and then allow her, or help her to enjoy herself in whatever way you can.

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    You can only encourage someone so much. Be honest but avoid being rude. Let her know that you believe she will reach her artistic goals if she keeps working.

    In the end, it's really up to her to overcome those negative feelings. But just let her know you're there.

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    Pursuing art is a very challenging career path which means facing adversity at nearly every turn. Encouraging her is good, but she's going to inevitably reach a point where every direction seems like a dead end and she's going to have to decide to either turn back or carve out a path for herself. In my personal opinion, self loathing and doubt is a natural part of the creative cycle that, as you progress, you face again and again and again. Change in this cycle only comes with experience; you recognize that dark mindset for what it is, having faced it many times before, and try to continue working in spite of it.

    For me, it took years of doubt in myself and my passion before I finally got my act together; for her, it might be weeks, months, years or never.. it's all up to her and how she determines her relationship to her art.
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    You sound like a true friend.

  7. #6
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    Two Listen - I agree, I think taking her mind off art and enjoying other things may help her.

    What would be a boundary between encouragement and sheer flattery? I do not know how much she practices or tries, but I do believe that she should extend her art and try new things since she often complains about not being good enough. Only, I do not know how to bring up an honest feedback without "lecturing" her, as she says. She has sensitive ego but I still care about her.
    This is how I plan on suggesting her to try new things, "Your pencil work looks good, but your idea would look good with acrylics as well, have you tried those?"

  8. #7
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    Would it be inappropriate to ask to see some of her stuff? (Though I wouldn't want you to show us anything in a format without her permission, or something she didn't put up herself). Does she have a sketchbook here?

    Personally I think you seem like a great friend as it is - and you're very intelligent in your balancing this out, how you're handling it. That's a pretty rare trait these days.

    Maybe if we could get a more direct idea, we could offer some other critiques or viewpoints for you to express?

  9. #8
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    Have her post some art.

    We'll rip it to shreds...and toughen up her skin.
    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
    -John Huston, Director

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    Encourage the state in which she is now, meaning that she has to go through it and show understanding. Unfortunatelly there are some things that you have to get over alone and may take muuuch time.
    The only thing i can say is, if something gets a comfortable habit, collapse it, either it is misery, furstration or doing the same things because you don't like to work hard. All these are too general and i don't think the forum solution is good. It's the worst on such things, we can only confuse you cause you only know her true state. Just be there when she needs you and stop trusting net so easily.

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    If she's up to it, maybe have her join a sketchbook group with peers around her level or someone she's inspired by. That way she won't feel alone in her artistic journey and have a better idea how to pace her own goals.
    Make a sketchbook happy, feed it a tip to improve!

    http://conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=85628

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    All in favor of seeing some art?
    Amateur Artist. Professional Asshole.

    Lookit the Pretty!

    Rule #1 of depicting soldiers: KEEP THE DAMN FINGER OFF THE DAMN TRIGGER.

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Psychotime View Post
    You sound like a true friend.
    I see what you did there.


    Seriously though childMARS, there is only so much you can do to help her. If you help her too much you will become a crutch for her. Some paths need to be walked alone. Maybe try focusing on just planting seeds in her mind.

    ...Essentially, exactly what Two Listen said.

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    I do not have her permission to show work. It does not matter how good she draws, but rather her attitude, and what the right response would be to this. How about keeping quiet and hoping she will grow out of it? That is what I do now.

    Let us say you have a friend and you clearly see points in her art that she must work on. The friend says that being in a school class with students who are "so much better" than her makes her feel inadequate, so you suggest she practice realism because that can help with anything. She then explains she is content with practicing realism only in her art classes and say it will not help her improve her cartoon drawings if she draws vases and random objects in class, and says it is not necessary to do extracurricular practicing. I never give her critique without her asking, but when she asks for feedback on her art, she then gets upset over what I say. In other words, she does not have the best attitude. Then, she still complains about not being good at art. Perhaps there is nothing I can do but stay quiet and go on with my own art.

    If she did not seem so exasperated and sad about "not being good enough", I would not give her feedback. She is the one who seems to be asking for approval.
    Last edited by childMARS; September 22nd, 2010 at 10:36 AM.

  15. #14
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    So far as art is concerned, EVERYTHING helps with EVERYTHING. Digital helps with traditional, traditional helps with digital, drawing from life helps with cartoons, drawing cartoons could help even with environments, using a pencil can help you with paints, - even something as simple as a dream can help things click when it's seemingly unrelated.

    Getting over that burden and mentality of hers is going to have to be of her own doing. Your job as her friend, is to make sure that when she does discover that, you're still there supporting her.

    You're doing everything right, though. Even in this thread - you've expressed nothing but concern for your friend, and are outwardly expressing respect for her privacy concerning her artwork. Were she ever to discover this thread, she should be very happy.

    And truthfully, I think to a certain extent, she's doing everything right, too. If she's at a different "skill" level than you, that can be difficult. Sometimes for young people, they need to go through these experiences and feel those things - even if they're inaccurate, or potentially hurtful. It makes the fruits of future experiences more worthwhile. I went through a period of time within the past couple years where I felt I should just stick exclusively to what I wanted, the whole "Drawing a vase won't help me with my cartoons" and the like. I feel very differently now...but I still don't regret the years of my life spent looking at things that way. I was still learning, and I understand my point of view...better, now.

    Good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by karma militia View Post
    I see what you did there.
    Huh? What are you talking about?

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    Be there for her, do what you can, but be aware, not everybody's cut out for this. Being an artist is as much a matter of temperament as it is of skill.

    Tristan Elwell
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    "Work is more fun than fun."
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    "Art is supposed to punch you in the brain, and it's supposed to stay punched."
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  19. #17
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    How do you think she would respond if you told her she "was not 'good enough', but no one ever is."? Maybe soften it with some cheesy cliche like "Art is about the journey not the destination." or maybe even "The wisest man knows he knows nothing" .

    For me; a lack of confidence is necessary to keep my feet on the ground, and overconfidence allows me to try to impose my perception on others. For me; the process of drawing (and communicating in general) is a constant struggle between those two forces.

    I'm just a hobby artist, and have no intentions of becoming professional in any real sense, so feel free to disregard my advice/drunken rambling.

  20. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Psychotime View Post
    Huh? What are you talking about?
    I thought you were being facetious, by 'flattering' and 'encouraging' the OP. Nevermind, seems i'm just wrapped up in my own little world again.

  21. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by childMARS View Post
    I do not have her permission to show work. It does not matter how good she draws, but rather her attitude, and what the right response would be to this. How about keeping quiet and hoping she will grow out of it? That is what I do now.

    Let us say you have a friend and you clearly see points in her art that she must work on. The friend says that being in a school class with students who are "so much better" than her makes her feel inadequate, so you suggest she practice realism because that can help with anything. She then explains she is content with practicing realism only in her art classes and say it will not help her improve her cartoon drawings if she draws vases and random objects in class, and says it is not necessary to do extracurricular practicing. I never give her critique without her asking, but when she asks for feedback on her art, she then gets upset over what I say. In other words, she does not have the best attitude. Then, she still complains about not being good at art. Perhaps there is nothing I can do but stay quiet and go on with my own art.

    If she did not seem so exasperated and sad about "not being good enough", I would not give her feedback. She is the one who seems to be asking for approval.
    Let me know if I'm wrong here but if you ever try to critique her in any capacity or in any depth she says you "lecture" her? She sounds like she can't handle critique and she's either going to have to leave to man up or get out of art (or at the very least, keep it completely to herself).

    She is saying she isn't good enough and the truth is, she most likely isn't. That is okay because she is still learning and nobody becomes a master overnight. She should be willing to learn and it doesn't seem like she is. I wouldn't try to validate her. I would be 100% honest and if she gets butt hurt, it's her problem. I would just tell her not to ask me anything else about her art since she thinks she has all the answers.
    See my Sketchbook

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