Give of Your Best... Don't Hang Your Dogs


Good advice for any artist: Don't hang your dogs.

That little gem comes from John Millhill, a very well known Canadian painter who was my mom's painting mentor.

This is a hard lesson to learn when you are involved in an art like painting or ceramics because of the sheer amount of effort, time, and cost that goes into a piece.

But even the best artist can't turn out genius every single time. There has to be experimentation. And sometimes that doesn't work out.

I have recently taken to chucking my own dogs out. I hung on to them because of the effort they represented. Now that I have matured a bit as an artist I can see them for what they are. They were either an experiment in a technique or just a learning experience that let me become more proficient in a medium.

The little piece above is not a dog. In fact I consider this to be one of my best early pieces. It came out of the first glaze firing I did for myself in my own kiln. It is one of a few that just about everyone likes. It is a happy little thing about an inch tall and bright with colours. It just fits in the palm of a hand and is a very pleasing shape to look at and hold.

I love this little thing. So I am giving it away.

It was going to go in the shop but my parents, who have been staying for a couple of weeks, will be visiting some dear friends in Paris. This couple have been very kind to me and my family and I wanted to send something to show my appreciation of that.

I asked mom to choose from any of the pieces I had the one she thought they would like the best. And unsurprisingly it was this one that EVERYone likes.

Giving someone something you have made yourself and that you like yourself objectively as an artist is one of the best things about being an artist.

I know this piece is good. And that is another bit of good advice for an artist. Knowing that some of what you do is good. If you can recognize what is good and bad in what you do then you can always be improving and growing as an artist.

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