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Patty Young

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Blog - 4th Quarter 2022

Visits with Joan

This might be a little weird, but I've been talking with Joan Mitchell about art. Weird because Joan Mitchell passed away in 1992.

Joan was an abstract expressionist artist who was born in Chicago in 1925 and she recently had a retrospective of her work at the Baltimore Museum of Art that I attended.

In exploring her story, I discovered themes for our times: talent, fame, excess, addiction, abuse. There's was something more for me though: a kindred spirit.

Aside from the demons that drove Joan to the edge, there was a passion for the work. Always, the work. Sounds familiar to my passion.

And her efforts leave the world with a record of how to go bigger and bolder even when you're considered to be "just" a "lady painter."

Joan reminds me to reach for my WOW and to do my own work, regardless of my circumstance.

And while Joan's work inspires me, I remind her in our conversations that I can't use it as a point of comparison. I must avoid the harsh self-criticism and paralysis that it can cause. Her example urges me onward but doesn't stop me in my tracks. I can't be Joan Mitchell and I shouldn't try to be. I must do my own work and use my own talents and resources.

My hope here is that you can identify your own kindred spirits and look to them for inspiration, not a comparison. The most important aspect of your work is that it is wonderfully yours and yours alone. While you can't be them, they also can't be you.

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