Much has been said and written about the encouragement artist have (or have not) received as they nervously felt their way over the threshold of an art career. If one were to study the lives of famous (hence successful) artists, the one consistency one would find regarding this subject is that there is NO consistency regarding early encouragement and it's effect upon the artist and his or her career. Arists with NO support from friends and family have been just as successful in their efforts as those who have had MUCH support. The extremes run from Gauguin and Van Gogh on the one hand to coddled prodigies as diverse as Picasso, Michelangelo, and Norman Rockwell on the other.

Of course the difficulty in exploring this subject is that we have no way of knowing how many budding artists have been "killed off" due to a lack of family support for their preferred artistic vocation. Of course, if the were so dependent upon family support as to CHANGE their career goals at some early stage in their lives, perhaps they would never have been great artists anyway. Frankly I have my doubts regarding the importance of the so-called "family support" factor anyway. I've seen a number of individuals with, no small amount of natural talent, coupled with a great deal of supporting encouragement from friends and loved-ones, fizzle out like wet skyrockets.

On a personal note, I've never placed much value on anything my family ever said about my work (it was always, without exception, positive) simply because of what I'd call the "love factor". Regardless of what they truly felt, they would, out of love, never have given me anyhing other than positive feedback. The "real" encouragement as far as I'm concerned, has always come from strangers, people I don't know and whom don't know me. THAT is HONEST encouragement. By the same token, I've learned more from those who make negative comments about my work (when they didn't know I was listening) than I ever had from admiring viewers. I love to masquerade as a visitor to my own exhibit and listen in on comments!