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How To Raise a Successful Artist

By Judi Dunbar, Mother of Amanda Dunbar

Amanda’s father is an electrical engineer and I am a registered nurse. We often look back on our experiences with our two artistic and entrepreneurial children and realize just how much of

a sense of humor God actually had by giving these two girls to us. We certainly never expected to end up with a child with extraordinary artistic abilities yet somehow that happened too.

As our lives turned upside down, our sense of humor became a lifeline and flexibility became imperative. During the time that Amanda’s painting ability advanced and she was thrust into the media at 16, it became clear to all of us that our family values and philosophies would ultimately become the very foundation of her success if she were to remain successful long term. (Amanda had decided at 13 that she wanted to make her living as an artist.) Since we have always supported each others goals in our family, we all took on Amanda’s challenges as a family team. It has been a joy for our entire family to support Amanda and help to nurture her dreams over the years. She has, in turn, supported our dreams.

Looking back, we are glad that we allowed her to make her own decisions and to form her own business destiny. It often wasn’t easy knowing when to step back and when to let her stumble but we learned to do just that. She needed to learn for herself whether her talent was a passion or simply a nice hobby. We couldn’t do that for her and we just needed to furnish the tools and support her. They were always her dreams and it was never part of our plan to live vicariously through hers or be financed by her successes.

We have always kept our own jobs and separate lives. In the process of learning with Amanda, each of our family members discovered our own artistic voices. Two are in music and two are in the visual arts. (www.dunbarstudios.net) Our talents are very different yet they are strangely complimentary to each other. Our collective abilities have since brought us closer together, more joy and more success than we could have imagined but we still have our original agreement in place that we will stop immediately when we are no longer having fun or fuelling our passions. This is especially true for Amanda whose career is often so very public. We keep our promises.

When our children were little we tried to instill in them lessons of kindness, tolerance, honesty and a love for learning. By the time that they were early school age, we worked to instill the additional values of ethics, dependability and hard work. It was always an expectation that they would do their best at whatever they tried regardless of the end result. If a C was the best grade they could get, that C was celebrated as long as they did their absolute best to achieve it. When our daughters were of middle school age, we tried hard to teach them the difficult skills of learning from failures without dwelling on them and learning not to take criticism personally.

It was also tough to teach them not to make assumptions. By the time that they were young adults in college and both had their own active and thriving businesses on the side, we suddenly realized that during all of the time that we thought they were ignoring us as teens our daughters were actually assimilating our family philosophies and lessons into what would soon become their business plans. They were also incorporating philanthropy into their businesses as a way to share their financial successes modeling yet another important value to our family. In the end, God gave us the tools by way of love, solid ethics and values to help our daughters be successful. They did the rest.

- Judi Dunbar