How Artistic Jealousy can be a Good Thing

My last article (or, blog post that had a lot more writing than doodles) was pretty negative. I got a lot of positive feedback for it, and I was in the middle of writing another blog post discussing the nature of Ugliness in the art work (I will probably post that at some point), but I was inspired to write something with a more positive message…

… That title doesn’t look entirely positive, does it?


Well, jealousy is a very ugly thing.


Here you are, feeling pretty proud of something you’ve drawn or painted, you’ve sent your artwork to a few galleries and have been rejected for stuff that was uglier and looked like not a lot of thought was put into it, but that’s okay. There’s always other times and you’re still proud of how long you’ve come a mile away. The more brutally honest family members in your life now look at your artwork and finally have positive things to say about your technique and color choices… and then you’re on Instagram… and you see that the art gallery you volunteered for has accepted, in your mind, the most beautiful artwork you’ve seen there. It’s the kind of art that your art professors in college would have HATED, because it required so much skill… what? This artist is not just a painter, but a sculptor too? You’ve dabbled in sculpting but never put the time into it, but it’s a skill you wish you had.

These were my feelings last night.

I’ve felt this feeling before, when I see winners of the Art Renewal Center’s Scholarship Awards, seeing people much younger than me present artwork that I doubt I will reach the level of any time soon. I can’t even hang out on the Art Subreddit because there’s so many artists better than me and they STILL get technical criticism, but I’ve kind of built a philosophy around artistic jealousy.

Why should we be jealous of our fellow artists rather than take joy in their art? That the world is more beautiful for it?

Seeing the work of Brian Kramer being shown in a gallery that always seemed to have super contemporary art styles was the first time artistic jealousy came back to me after I’ve established said philosophy. As though God was testing me to put my money where my mouth was.

You can’t escape the ugly feelings

And? You know what? It was the strangest feeling. All those negative, ugly feelings came back. Why can’t my art be that good? Why haven’t I put more time into studying drawing and painted to be that good? I will never be as good of sculptor as him. All these ugly feelings of inadequacy came back to me. It was a kind of hatred, but I didn’t hate the artist, I hated myself.

That was another realization that I found. When an artist get’s jealous, I highly doubt they really want to wish harm on other or their work (or, if they did, they have to be a real asshole, and they exist too), but it’s all about the self.

When I saw Kramer’s work, for a moment all I could think about was me. How I wasn’t good enough. Why I couldn’t be like that.

How selfish is that?

Remember to appreciate the talents of others

But… after all those feelings digested, I remembered my philosophy. The world is more beautiful because such a skilled, talented artist exists in it. I loved his gallery of paintings, his inspiration from Rembrandt, how his art improved and progressed. I love his copy of Bougereau’s Gabriel Fidenza and its strange looking eyes. I find myself looking at his still life of Reading Ruskin and wondering what the story is behind it. There’s a book, and there’s a drawing of what looks like a cathedral concept, and the details in that tea cup. And the contrast. My goodness. The way he uses values to make his pieces more interesting is breathtaking. Also, who is Bev? That portrait he did of her makes her look somewhat mischievous and fun to hang out with. I’d like to meet her.

Not only that, but a gallery for a long time that only seemed to admire the more abstract/expressionist/conceptual styles of art (I seriously hate that I know the difference between the three), saw something in Kramer’s art worth exhibiting, and somebody actually did buy at least one of his pieces. It’s as if the Academic art world is starting to no longer see beauty as a mortal sin.

In the end, be enriched by it

I felt one last thing in my gazing at Kramer’s work: inspiration. I want to be as good as him. I want to dedicate more time every day to my drawing, to cut down how much time I spend futzing around on the internet and dedicate myself to drawing and painting more. Maybe for August, I’ll do a daily drawing or painting thing. And you know what? Maybe I WILL join that Art subreddit after all!

…Oh wait… I did join it… Maybe I’ll post something of mine! Come at me critique! Hurt my feelings, then help me improve!


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