As I grow older, I have seen a shift in myself in how I relate to other artists. I am no longer competing, I don't desire accolades, the uncertainties are gone of feeling inadequate. I just do my work now and do not feel offended if it does not fit what someone feels is "good art." I do feel an unspoken respect that comes from being older and the experience I have been through. I am fortunate to feel this from the artists I have met near me. I still get contempt from some, I still get snubbing from others. I will not return to conventions where I feel this behavior any longer and it is not my job to win over people who do not like my art, it isn't personal.
It is my responsibility to help others if they want my help and to offer advice. I can give it and welcome it. I was fortunate in my life to receive genuine friendship and advice from those who went before me, Vincent Difate, Doug Chaffee, Kelly Freas, Pat Morissey. Along the way I looked up to others who found that being a friend to me was simply using me. One such person was essentially a predator, who took advantage of me. In addition he was someone who engaged in false humility. It was confusing then not knowing who this person really was. I have finally come to terms with this unfortunate behavior from someone who I admired greatly. There is nothing worse then looking up to someone who ultimately crushes you. You go on. It is not worth your time to be around others who hurt you and treat this as casually and routinely as a daily walk to the pub. We make the mistake sometimes of holding on to these type of relationships hoping that something wonderful will come out of them or that person will change and be more supportive, but it won't happen.
My reaction to artists who I felt were far beyond me in technique have been mixed. My first response for many years was to learn from this, and I did. I studied their technique. But over time, I also learned that its is not just technique but substance that matters. Now, I seek substance and I don't really care about technique unless the work is obviously very primitive and there has been no effort to school oneself in materials and technique. Which brings me to those who I did greatly admire and were real mentors to me. They also spoke emotion and feeling in their paintings, not just slickness or detail. Their work goes beyond surface, they inspire. I would encourage artists to seek this, you will know. It is not worth your time to waste time in a direction that is not beneficial to you. It will also be beneficial to your mentor.