Dianne here: This may well be a more personal blog post….it has to do with that we ‘artists’ (or at least this one) need to feel valued or good about our work. What best fulfills us? Should we need any reinforcement other than feeling good about what we have produced? Is money a realistic reinforcement? How about criticism (maybe that for another day).
You might remember I shared the braiding of the alpaca rug (http://wp.me/p4qaPu-2Z) I made for my 27 year old daughter’s friend. I had made a small butted basket for the baby shower at my daughter’s request and subsequently the friend’s husband contacted my daughter to commission me to make a large rug for the baby’s room as a surprise for the new mom. We settled on a very reasonable price for a large oval for in front of the changing table. This was in the fall and the baby was due any day….so I worked hard on finishing it; I took it to an extended braiding event trip and practiced a new butting technique on the many butted outer rows…and Christine gifted me with more green after I ran out of the original color. I shipped it off to the husband at his work and heard nothing, but eventually did get a check and after nagging my daughter, he told her he loved it….but we heard nothing from the mom. Baby was born, still nothing. Actually nothing until last week, a good 4 months after I sent it.
What did I expect and why did I expect it? Was I unreasonable in my expectations? I suppose I expected (and maybe needed) positive reinforcement that they ‘loved it’, that it was the best thing ever, etc. etc. Why did I need that? I think because when we put ourselves ‘out there’ by exhibiting, selling or fulfilling a commission, we are vulnerable. Even if we KNOW we like the results, we are unsure about others. OR if we aren’t sure about the results, if we have taken a chance and done something new and different, or put colors together we aren’t sure about (as in brown, green and white for a baby’s room, as was requested!), we crave feedback, even if it is negative (as long as it’s gentle).
I talked to my daughter at length about this and she began to understand how I felt. She was embarrassed for her friend, yet she did not want to flat-out ask. The friend now lives in another state and they don’t talk much. I think the episode was a teachable moment because my daughter saw how disappointed I was not to have heard, and I think she has a better appreciation of thank you notes now….we’ll see.
But the whole experience made me reflect on my expectations and how realistic they are. Other braiders or fiber artists would sense the work this rug took and say something. Knitters who are gifted hand-knit socks realize the effort and are quick with the praise and thank yous. The final realization is this: we are in charge of how we feel, no one else can fulfill our own expectations of ourselves. If the color change was poor and we know it, it was poor. If the butt was badly done, we know. If it came out well and we were proud, that should be all we need. I am going to work on this as I go forward. Thanks for listening and sorry if I have been trite or preachy…
PS: Daughter talked to friend last week and friend “loves it; whenever she goes into baby’s room, the rug reminds her of my daughter”.