YOUR ARTWORK: The Rokeby Venus, by Diego Velazguez
Five points regarding this exquisite work, that I love so much I slept with a poster of it above my bed for years.
1) This is the first time in the history of art that Venus was painted as a brunette (holler)
2) When it was first painted, everybody hated it. It was considered vulgar and shocking during Velazguez's days and, later, once it had finally been given the eminent wall it deserved, at The National Gallery in London, it was almost irrevocably destroyed by an angry suffragette with a hammer.
3) Though it initially looks and seems as if Venus is looking admiringly at a reflection of herself, it's impossible that she's doing so because we can see her eyes in the mirror: she's actually looking at the artist, who can then truly said to be the ultimate subject of the painting, the invisible spectre on which her gaze rests. This has spawned a pyschologly of perception that was termed "The Venus Effect".
4) The "Venus Effect" is something you can learn from, my love. You can be like Velazguez and his Venus. You are the artist of your work, but like him, you should also see yourself as your primary audience. Your best critic. Your best judge. Though work can be beheld by others, never forget that at the end of the day the fruit of your creativity, whatever that might be, is always, ultimately, looking directly, rather lovingly, certainly inquiringly at you.
5) Side note. Other marvellous things that reference the Rokeby Venus? This beautiful film written by Hanif Kureishi. This episode of Desert Island Discs where composer Harry Rabinowitz says his life was altered when The Rokeby Venus SPOKE to him (ahem). Whatever, I can believe it. If your prescription came with an unlimited budget I'd pack you off to London myself, right this instant.
YOUR READING/INSTAGRAM POST: How Actors Cope With A Critical Mauling, as told to Laura Barnett
There's no doubt, and this is something that you recognize in your letter, that the most dangerous element of your relationship with Instagram is that you are straight up interpreting the number of likes and comments that you get as a barometer of how good your work is. Wake up call babe- right now, several notable nerds worldwide are being paid far too much money to analyse just what it is that makes the perfect social media post, and should we ask them to dinner (nahhh) they would tell you that it's less the content, and more a combination of timing, luck, data, weather, broadband connection, complicated search engine optimization thingamijigs etc. So theres's that. Sometimes when certain posts perform better than others, it's not because one is less good than the other. In short, it's not you, it's them.
Also, darling, though over time you've convinced yourself that analyzing your likes and attention is a helpful tool for you to figure out what's good for you creatively, I think you and I both know that's bull shit. Being a creative person, whether you're a writer or a painter or a potter is so much a naked slamming of original thought and/or emotion onto object. There's so much ego there. And that's why it's so easy to sucuumb to flattery and praise and to seek it out when your daily schedule involves and indeed depends on such a huge emotional release as work. If you must behave badly, strive to be too bold rather than too servile, less Narcissus, more Icarus. It's warmer for the latter.
Anyway, I loved this article for you because it talks all about the myriad ways that brilliant actors cope with bad reviews. What particularly struck me was this quote by actress Una Stubbs.
"It's better not to read reviews, even when they're good. They may mention how you say a particular line, and then the next time you come to that part, you'll think: "Ooh, this is the bit they like." It makes you think about it too much."
You'd think in an article like this actors would talk about how negative reviews had upset them rather than the other way round, huh? Flattery is truly a false idol. Such a lesson here.
YOUR PHOTO/ARTWORK DEPENDING ON YOUR STANCE: Kim K's bottom