Harvard University started a study in 1940, and it continues to this day. Over 75 years, they have followed more than a hundred men, and found one key element to overall happiness, health, and well-being. That one key ingredient was social connection. (Robert Waldinger, 2015 Ted Talk)
This is not news. Having healthy relationships enhances mental stability, longevity, and physical health, and there are many studies to prove it.
It is not just our well-being that benefits from social connections. The secret to great art, just as a great life, are the people in our lives, not just the paint on the canvas. The people in my life, from my incredibly supportive family, to well-known artists who have taken me under their wings, contribute to my art in priceless and powerful ways.
My recent trip to TX made this truth clear. I was invited by Jill Carver to join her with a group of painters in Big Bend, TX. As we all enjoyed the incredible desert scenery and light, we marveled at the importance of such trips. Being artists, we are comfortable with solitude. We choose the quiet of the studio over the social pressure of working in a group. This makes the painting trip an important element of our careers. It is a time when we sync our routines to each other. We share observations that are only understood by someone else who spends so much time holding a brush. The connections that are made here in this sacred time of “hunting and gathering” for images are not forgotten.
As I mentioned, my career hinges on the help of my husband, family, schools, and a vast network of people who support my efforts. It is also held up by important mentors. These people give me the strength to carry on. They advise me in technical matters, as well as professional choices. It really is all about the network.