by Mark J Ratcliffe


Happy New Year! I hope 2024 is a great year for you and wish you so much success with your creativity. As this is a new year, and my second blog on Smart Art Courses, I really wanted to really focus on something that I think is essential for any artist or person who puts their art and creativity “out there” for the world to see. Resilience. It’s not easy, but I think it’s a much-needed survival mechanism, especially when we tend to take things to heart. I know I do, and over the last 4 years especially I can relate to that emotion. 

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficult situations and setbacks

Many artists (if not all of us) face challenges when it comes to being creative with their painting. I truly believe one of the most important traits an artist can develop is resilience. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficult situations and setbacks. Do you know what I mean? YES, you say, and I hear you loud and clear… but it’s not easy is it? How do we get to the point of being strong enough to not take things so personally, yet still have a vulnerability about us to enable us to paint and create from the heart? When it comes to painting, this means being open to feedback and criticism, but not letting it get in the way of your creativity.

One way to cope with feedback is to approach it with an open mind. That’s a challenge in itself, right? The work we create is so personal to us, how can we separate the two? Try to view the feedback as an opportunity to learn and grow as an artist. Ask questions and seek clarification if you don’t understand the feedback. If the feedback is negative or hurtful (believe me, I’ve had my fair share of it on social media), try to separate the feedback from the person giving it. Remember that feedback is about the work, not about you as a person. Let’s reflect on some of the comments I’ve had…. “My two year old can do that”, “that’s not art”, “ha ha ha this is throwing paint on a canvas”, “get a real hobby”. I will admit, especially in the early days putting my art on social media and launching my own YouTube channel, it hurt me. Made me want to give up and go and hide. But I didn’t – why? I learned that most of the feedback I was receiving was from people who were unfulfilled in their own life, it was their own insecurities or unhappiness that was behind the negativity or attack on my work; the feedback wasn’t constructive but more personal and just a matter of opinion. It actually wasn’t about me and it was more about them and the people they are.

 “Approach it with an open mind”

Another important aspect of resilience is knowing how to manage negative behavior from others. Unfortunately, some people may not appreciate or understand your work. It’s important to remember that everyone has different tastes and opinions. Try not to take negative comments personally, and instead focus on the positive feedback you receive. If the negative behaviour is persistent or harmful, it may be necessary to take steps to protect yourself, such as setting boundaries or seeking support from friends or professionals. And never hesitate to hit that block button; we don’t need that kind of negativity or bullying around us. I know I don’t feel guilty for hitting that button when it’s necessary. For my own sanity, I have to put my own wellbeing as a priority. 

Finally, remember that resilience is a skill that can be developed over time. I have learned along the way what works for one situation may not work well in another. Practice being open to feedback, stay positive, and surround yourself with supportive people. With time and practice, you can become a more resilient artist and continue to create beautiful and meaningful work whilst being open to criticism that will help you grow and evolve as an artist. 

I thought it might be helpful to outline some skills that can help you improve your own resilience as an artist:

  1. Self-awareness: Understanding your strengths, weaknesses, and emotions is essential to building resilience. When you know yourself well, you can identify and manage stressors and take care of your mental and emotional health. Remember, our wellbeing should be our first priority. We know ourselves and I know I always try to be my authentic self. There is no point in being anything else. 
  2. Adaptability: Being adaptable means that you can adjust to changing circumstances and find creative solutions to problems. As an artist, you need to be flexible enough to pivot when a project falls through or when your plans change unexpectedly. I know that happens to me often with fluid art – if a creation isn’t going as expected, I know I can fall back on other techniques or problem solving that I have learned over past years and experience. 
  3. Persistence: Persistence is the ability to keep going even when faced with obstacles or setbacks. It allows you to stay focused on your goals and keep working towards them, even when progress is slow or difficult. I can really relate to this when a creation or video tutorial doesn’t really sit well with an audience. Being creative has many ups and downs and it’s so important to remember you won’t always please everyone; as long as you create something you’re happy with that is all that really matters. 
  4. Positive thinking: Having a positive mindset can help you stay motivated and resilient in the face of challenges. Instead of dwelling on negative thoughts or setbacks, try to focus on the things you can control and the progress you have made. Reflect on all those positive comments and feedback you’ve already had and remind yourself you do matter. 
  5. Support network: Having a strong support network of friends, family, and fellow artists can help you stay motivated and resilient. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your work, and who can offer you encouragement and support when you need it.

 ” you have unique skills, experiences, and perspectives that make you a valuable creative individual”

Creative resilience is the ability to persist in the face of obstacles or setbacks while maintaining a positive attitude and a sense of purpose. It is an essential quality for anyone who wants to pursue a creative career or engage in creative pursuits. I really wanted to conclude this months Blog with some positive advice that can help you develop your creative resilience:

“Believe in yourself and your abilities. When you face challenges or setbacks, it’s easy to doubt yourself and your talents. However, it’s important to remember that you have unique skills, experiences, and perspectives that make you a valuable creative individual. Instead of focusing on your weaknesses, focus on your strengths and what you can do to improve. Trust that you have the creativity and perseverance to overcome any obstacle that comes your way. By believing in yourself and your abilities, you can build the confidence and resilience you need to succeed in your creative endeavours. Remember your contributions to the creative world are valid and appreciated by so many people, that you maybe haven’t even met yet. You never know who you inspire, who aspires to be like you, and who looks upon you as their motivation… so never give up”. 

Check out Mark’s course on Smart Art Courses – an approach to art and creativity in a mindful way to help relax, unwind and be in the present moment. 

Mark from Mark J Ratcliffe Art  | Artist, Creator & Wellbeing Advocate.

Monthly Blog, written in his own words. @MarkJRatcliffeArt /

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