our new picnic spot in the hills behind our home – can’t wait to paint it!

I am a great believer in community. Through my online community of artists, built around the artist blogs that have resonated most with my experience, I have established friendships, been struck with inspiration, learned new art techniques and brainstormed marketing ideas.

But for all my talk of the value of community, there’s one area in the give-and-take of artist relations that has been missing. I’ll call it “pay-it-forward”. Months ago, when my first article in Empty Easel was published, among the email responses I received was a note from artist Scott Shiffer. After viewing my art, he thought of an opportunity that would suit my painting style ideally, and wrote to give me the link.

It is such a boost and an encouragement to know another artist is rooting for you. Who knows better than another artist how hard this business can be – how personal our work is, and how fragile we can feel after a slump in sales or during a creative block? One reason why I make it a priority to respond to emails from other artists and answer their questions as well as I can.

Last week I was cruising some design blogs – I love to see the sites and products that inspire others and there are so many design/decorating/arts blogs out there. That particular day (when I should have been painting!) I found Scoutie Girl, who spends her blog time “digging up fabulous finds from indie designers and artists.” While her style was definitely too mod to fit a feature on yours truly, I immediately thought of a friend of mine, Anna McLean, whose paintings are simple, clean and design-oriented and would be perfect for the site. So I emailed Scoutie Girl and sent her the link to Anna’s blog. And she featured her today!

Now, not only did an artist I respect get a bit of free promotion, but I got a little warm fuzzy for being such a nice person – and a link to my site from Scoutie Girl (even if she didn’t feature me). And you know, I’m kind of wondering why I didn’t try this sooner. It’s what I would want someone to do for me, and I am all about being the kind of person I would want to associate with.

So I encourage you, this week to take a break from your own self-promotion and pay it forward and find an opportunity to do for another artist what you would like someone to do for you.