Thursday, March 24, 2011


I slept for only about an hour last night due to anxiety after a somewhat vicious verbal attack that took place, of all places, at my weekly art group. Two weeks ago I was told that I couldn't attend in the afternoon any more, and could choose to stay only in mornings or all day. We have two daily sessions, morning and afternoon, and places are limited. Some people come in mornings, some afternoons and some stay all day. I tended to do a bit of each. We've got about one spare place in each session (although in practise there are always a few more because not every member comes every week).

Up until that point I was free to choose to stay if I wanted. Of all members only I was told that I could no longer attend afternoons and I felt upset at this because it was a restriction of my freedom. I also thought it was a bit illogical because there are often spare places, but I didn't say that at the time. Later after talking with another member I thought that everyone should feel that they could switch round a bit if they wanted and wrote a two sentence letter stating that I'd like the freedom to choose to stay and that I thought that everyone would want that right.

Unfortunately the most powerful personality in the group and de-facto leader is a bully who can't be crossed. Several members are afraid to air their concerns or oppose his will, and so the way the club is run tends to be decided by him. There are odd consequences of this, I remember a unanimous vote for a special day where members bring in work to explain it. When the day arrived nobody wanted to participate, and in fact people had to be shouted at, or rather ranted at, about team spirit and such to make them participate. Of course the whole affair was because people were pressured to vote for a day they weren't that interested in.

Anyway, yesterday's debate ended up with me being shouted at for (apprently) desiring to cull nine members of the group so that sufficient space was available for everybody to stay all day. A complete paranoic extreme exaggeration of reality, used to force me to back down. At first shell shocked, I found the experience traumatic and am now far too afraid of the club to consider returning.

I know about how to cope with trauma, due to my interest in psychology. What's been shown to help is: Writing (not talking) about the experience. Writing about the benefits of it. Drawing the experience. Taking exercise to cope with physical stress. These things I have done and will do. The experience was worth it for the painting idea shown alone.

Most people could probably easily cope with a purely verbal beating but I'm a sensitive soul and unused to dealing with people (before I joined the club I spent nearly twenty years in isolation and the social contact has benefitted me and changed me in myriad ways). I think that sensitivity is useful and important to my artwork, and must be preserved. As such, I must seek to detect and avoid negative agressive people in future.

I'm too stressed to work today and will go for a walk in the spring sunshine. It's nice to see the sun.


Robin said...

I hope you enjoyed your walk and have found a way to relax, and let go of the negativity from the art group personality clashes. I think most artists are extremely sensitive, that's why we choose to translate emotion and sensitivity via our art mediums. If you really enjoyed the art group then I would suggest going back to it, and just reminding yourself that what happened in the past is in the past, and now it's time to move forward with a clean slate.

Jennifer Wadsworth said...

I can feel the tension in your post. It does not seem right, bullying is everywhere I guess. Paint it and return at least once with the piece and explain it. That might just make your point of view understood.

Seek first to understand, then be understood.

jill said...

A walk in the sunshine often helps to clear my mind. This person seems to have a problem by the way he responds to people. You don't have a problem, it sounds like a reasonable request but you have done a great drawing and i would love to see the completed painting if that is what you do. I once left a scuba diving club because of someone's behaviour towards me. I would continue to go to the art class though, it is a great thing to be part of. Perhaps because you sound like a gentleman some of that will rub off on mr shouty man.

Mark Sheeky said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. It's not a good situation. The answer to any relationship problem is communication and reason, but sometimes people are bad at communicating and won't see from other's viewpoints. Most of my friends are at the group but this is the third time I've thought about leaving. I'm my own worst enemy because I really don't like being told what to do and if I see something is wrong I'll say so to get it fixed, not just hide away. It's an art group and it should be nice and fun to paint there. If it's unpleasant, why go there?

Carolyn Abrams said...

mark, i can't imagine trying to create under such negative energy. I would probably not return and start my own art group even if at first it only consisted of me! I am sure there are plenty of artists out there wanting to join a group of highly creative and energized people such as yourself!