Gardon Reflections #3, 18x24 inches, Acrylic, ©Lynn Goldstein, Inspired by trip to France in 2013, Sold
While teaching a workshop in southern France in 2013, I traveled to Aix en Provence to visit Paul Cezanne's studio. For me, this visit was like a pilgrimage because I have felt transported spiritually by viewing Cezanne's work for years.
We were warned that no photographs were allowed. There were stern women standing guard. If a camera or phone was whipped out of a bag or pocket the offender was roundly chastised in a barrage of disparaging French.
I don't generally break rules of this nature. Thing is, something caught my eye that was begging to be photographed. While one of my students shielded my phone from view, I snapped the shot. There was a letter that Cezanne had sent to his friend Claude Monet, and I wanted to remember what was written. I wish I had gotten a photo of the letter in French, but realized that I should cut my losses and get what I could. Here is the photo that I took of the letter, translated into English:
As you can see, in his letter, Cezanne discloses his displeasure with a piece on which he was working. More importantly, he thanks his fellow artist friend, Claude Monet, for his moral support. This is something that we all need, and I count myself fortunate to have wonderful friends that are walking the same path that I am in making art. I receive support from them that I treasure.
Isn't it wonderful to learn unexpected things from those whose work inspires us? Isn't it even more wonderful to have the support of understanding friends?
Here are a few of my favorites from Cezanne Portraits at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
Boy in a Red Waistcoat, Paul Cezanne, 1888-1889
Cezanne is best known for his still life and landscape painting. I think that perhaps the reason that this piece appeals to me so much is that, although it is a portrait, I can see the landscape qualities in the composition. Do you see the similarities to a tree in the pose of the adolescent here? The background drapery even has a tree trunk quality to it. The complimentary color scheme of green and red is utilized to great effect as well.
Man in a Blue Smock, Paul Cezanne, 1897
This painting was riveting to me. I tend to gravitate to complimentary color schemes and this painting is no exception, with blue and orange dominating. Again, their are landscape elements present in this piece. Cezanne utilized a painted screen that he had made in the past as the background.
This Way, 10x10, Oil on Canvas, ©Lynn Goldstein $575
How many of you suffer from bouts of insecurity? I know, right? Who hasn’t?
Feelings of inadequacy are threads that have been woven throughout the fabric of my life for as long as I can remember. Those feelings have stymied my success in ways that I can pinpoint, and ways that I am just beginning to understand. Most importantly, that lack of confidence has kept me from recognizing the best way to fulfill my mission.
Although I know that my moments of flagging confidence are not going to be vanquished forever. I wanted to understand a way to eliminate the feelings as much as I could. With that in mind, I spoke with one of my coaches recently, and she helped me with a trick that I think may be helpful to you if you ever suffer from self doubt. Again, who doesn't?
While unpacking the root of my feelings of inadequacy, I disclosed to her a story from my memories as a child, which I will share with you here.
How great is that little swim cap? Had to protect my hair. Here I am at 4 years old, loving life.
One of my first memories, when I was about 4 years old, was that I was on this earth to touch people in a positive way. In other words, at four years old, I knew my life’s mission. My fear of being labeled nuts at worse, or an extreme Pollyanna at best, kept me from sharing this mindfulness with others. However, since I have been carefully disclosing my remembrance to select people, their reactions have indicated how unusual that memory actually was.
After confessing this recollection to my coach, she asked, “How could you touch people in a positive way and possibly be inadequate?
A giant lightbulb went off when I responded to her question. I realized that it is impossible to be lesser-than if I am touching people in a positive way. Therefore, as long as I, or my art, are fulfilling that mission, it is good enough!
Here’s the part that helps me stay positively focused, and what you may be able to do to help yourself when your confidence wanes. I call it my “mind reorientation tool.” When I feel myself comparing my art, or my life, or even myself with others, and am tempted to let that lack of confidence rear its ugly head, I remember my mission. To help me even further, I have a picture of my four year old self taped to the side of my easel. When I look at that sweet little girl, who truly never knew a stranger, and smiled at all she encountered, I am transported back to a time when love surrounded me. This photo helps me to remember that as long I am fulfilling my mission, I am good enough, swim cap and all!
Now, here’s your task. If you are fulfilling your mission, whatever that is, you can’t possibly be inadequate. Think that over. Then, find something, it can be just about anything, to reorient your mind when the negativity starts creeping in.
I hope that this helps you as it has helped me. If you think of a little reminder that brings you back to balance, and would like to share what that is in the comments, I would love to hear from you. Who knows, we may all come away with great ideas to help each other!
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