This is a tricky blog to write , and I'm not even sure that I'll be brave enough to post it , but here goes. A great deal has been said about kindness this year, and this may not sound very kind, but that's not how I intend to sound. So please, make yourself a cuppa, sit down and read on..
Imagine this scenario. A car pulls up to my studio and a couple hop out, in they come and I greet them and carry on with painting, leaving them to browse. Which one of them does, reading the labels, looking at each painting, rifling through my prints and cards. The other one has a perfunctory look then comes to stand by my easel. I'm getting ready to explain what I'm doing but wait! Out comes the phone! And I'm suddenly being shown numerous photos of their daughter/mother/aunty's paintings - they are brilliant artists and, wait, here are another 20 paintings for me to check out. Don't get me wrong, I am interested in what other people paint, but this is , after all , my studio- and presumably they've called in because they're interested in what I'm doing? I'm always happy to help someone who wants to know the answer to a painting problem (if I can). But if you go to a cafe do you spend the visit telling the staff how the barista down the road makes the best coffee you've ever tasted? When you visit your GP do you tell them about the brilliant grades that your son is getting at med school?If you go to a concert do you talk loudly to the person sitting next to you about your child prodigy violinist?I try to listen graciously , but am relieved when they finally head off. It makes me realise that there are etiquette rules to follow when you visit anyone.
- Stop what you're doing and concentrate on your guest/host
- Look them in the eye - engage with them without trying to get the last word
- Listen to what they have to say
- Practise random acts of kindness - try to find something nice to say to them, (even if you don't like their paintings!). Compliment them on their cool teeshirt, their pretty garden , their earrings!
I look forward to meeting you when you call in :)