Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Comparison Corner by Gail Johnson

Have you ever compared yourself to another? You know, when you look at their bio and spy their list of accomplishments and say what in the world am I thinking? I have lost my mind! If so, you’re not alone.
"Creativity takes courage." - Henri Matisse, artist

Henri Matisse, a famous French artist, must have thought the same thing when he said, 
“It has bothered me all my life that I do not paint like everybody else.”

I find it strange that a famous artist would compare himself to others. Why would he do such a thing? To answer that question, I went in search of the story behind the quote. What I found helped me realize every gift is as unique as the artist. 

Like every famous person, Henri Matisse didn’t start out as a renowned artist. He began painting after his mother purchased art supplies for him while he recovered from an attack of appendicitis. That gift changed his life forever.

By 1905, his art fell under the label of Fauvism, characterized by the use of vibrant and unnaturalistic colors. Most people didn’t like this form of art. When Matisse unveiled Woman with a Hat, a portrait of his wife, people laughed at his use of raw colors on the canvas.

Their laughter may have bothered Matisse, but it didn’t stop him from painting. He studied artists such as Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh, and Paul Signac. Yet, he remained true to himself even while incorporating some of their techniques. For instance, he used Cezanne’s method of space, and Georges Seurat and Paul Signac technique of pointillism to create his Woman with a Parasol in 1905.

Matisse’s story got me to thinking…and praying. Eventually, I stepped away from the comparison corner and learned to appreciate my gift. I understand that writing, like painting, takes practice. I learn by doing. The first draft will be a mess. And even after it has been edited umpteen dozen times, it will never be a masterpiece to some. But like Matisse, I keep studying the craft and practicing my technique.

I do that by learning from other writers. I read novels, follow blogs, and subscribe to newsletters. I am a member of ACFW and a critique group. I keep the helpful advice and discard the rest. When I begin writing, I search my notes of the dos and don’ts. But, the technique is all mine.

Another thing I had to do was settle in my mind that everyone may not be a fan of my writing or chosen genre. Frankly, I’m not a fan of every genre or every writer, either. But, like Matisse, I will study, respect, and support my fellow artists because I can appreciate the work involved in producing their story.

In the end, Matisse had the last laugh when his paintings sold for millions, and his face appeared on the 1930 cover of Time magazine. So, if by chance you are chained to the comparison corner, I encourage you not to give up. Keep studying and keep writing! There is an audience of fans waiting for just you!

About the Author
Gail Johnson
Gail Johnson is a retired cosmetologist and homeschool teacher. She lives in the South on a farm with her family and three dogs where she writes inspirational fiction/nonfiction. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is currently learning the entire process of indie publishing. You can connect with her on Center of His Wheel, Facebook, and Twitter.