Let me start off by saying this-what I’m about to write about may initially come off as a bit haughty, but it’s not meant to be that way. Just read what I’m saying and realize I am venting, trying so very hard to do what’s right for me.
Over the last year or so I’ve dipped my toes in the art of mixed media/collage/painting. I have grown to love it very much although I am not consistent. In the course of this past year I went all ‘gung ho’ and followed the blogs of other similiar artists, checked out Etsy shops of mixed media artists and paid money for online classes with the hope that by participating in these group art activities some miracle of the art gods will propel me successfully right out into the art world, blessing me with a style, and infuse me with the sense of just what subjects I should paint. Much to my demise, 0nly confusion, jealousy and the feeling of being overwhelmed bombarded me instead of those good things I was hoping to achieve. Worse yet, blog hopping and checking out the lives of other artists, their muses and their budding careers has left me with feelings of contempt. Unhealthy? Yes, I’d say quite a bit. But I couldn’t understand why.
All my life I’ve been creative and lived artfully, knowing no other way to be. I have always wanted to have some kind of job in a field of art. But, not since I began searching the web, have I ever been hit with the certainty of just how many people there are in the world vying for the same spot (yes they are-get real.) to achieve noteriety, with the hopes of cashing in on their talent as a means of income. Just bopping around the internet has caused me to hit that harsh reality with the same pain and velocity of bashing into a brick wall. It brought me to a dark and depressing bottom line-there are thousands of us out there and it feels like the market is so saturated one can drown from it. I know, I know, it’s a big world out there and some well meaning folks even hold onto the notion that there’s room in the world for all of us. And there is, I suppose. But it still depresses me. I think it happens to the best of us-we get so caught up in what others are doing that it causes us to lag behind or lose confidence in our own abilities. Do you hear these words in your mind… They’re so much better! What’s the point? You can go on and on. It’s enough to send even the most psychologically sound gal spiraling into a mild depression retreating to her bed with the cat for days on end, eating cookies and pints of ice cream in a clouded daze, watching old episodes of Sex and the City over and over again-feeling like a bit of a loser. This is how I feel. It truly makes me feel disheartened.
Being a perennial optimist (only suffering momentary bouts of deflation like right now) in an effort to combat these feelings and to maintain the usual positive stance I quickly take in my life, I realized what it is I must do to keep my sights set on what I want out of life . How can I accomplish my artist goals-no matter what the outside world holds in it’s hands? I’ve decided from this point on to focus on myself. I need to nurture and concentrate on the artsy person I love the most-me. I no longer want to navigate from one art blog to the next. I believe it’s a detriment to allow myself to be exposed to so many ideas and styles of other artists. I think that doing that dilutes ones originality-at least, I know it dilutes mine. I will not take any more online classes. Instead, I think I will spend my time exploring my own style at my own pace. I want to become a purist in a sense, and stay true to what’s inside of me that’s waiting to burst out and reveal itself. I hope that by doing this I will give myself a better chance of reaching real contentment and joy. I want to be a self supporting artist, and by taking this sabbatical from basking in the success’ of the artistic multitudes and their art, I can rise out of that muck, brush myself off and polish myself to the gleaming, artsy kind of woman I hope to be.
Budda said, believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. By following my own advise, and ultimately the words of Budda, I hope to come to my senses.
How about you? Do you also struggle with feeling immersed in the world and losing your originality? How do you deal with it?
16 thoughts on “My moment of clarity”
A couple years before my divorce my dad said to me, ” You have to start living life and stop letting it just happen to you.” Embrace live and live it Em! The rest will come naturally to you. I have known you for years and the Emily I know and love has a very feminine sense of style, is one of the best proof readers/editors I have ever known, and has her style in her artwork. I remember all the drawings you used to do. Everything you need is already inside Em. Live life–Embrace it–Let your sense of Spirit Show!
You are one hell-uv-a great writer! You know there are multitudes who are caught in the Web who will perish before they realize the notoriety and financial gains of said few. Learning how to use the net to your advantage and not let it eat you alive is the key to staying healthy and staying true to yourself. Liken it to a beautifully spun lacy silken thread of a spider’s web. There aren’t too many smart bugs out there who manage to stay clear of getting caught up in it……….. you my dear are one smart bug. Fly away and pursue those gifts you have.
I hope you will continue to share your wisdom and outlook here on your blog!
Hi Em. Your posts help me, I told you this before when you wrote on this subject or something similar. I would love to have a quilt shop, I can’t quilt, but I still would or some kind of shop with the stuff we love, the primitive, shabby chic. I’d love to have classes using doll and other patterns. But I have to work, I’m a single mom, we both share taking care of the boys but it is hard. It’s then, when i am so thankful I got my college degree in nursing. When I can go to work, know I’m making good money thankfully. When I do a good job or am the charge nurse, it really makes me feel good, and I work with the most wonderful and fun people. They all know I’m creative and love the little things I make them for Christmas and a friend even buys dolls from me.
The thing with me is the fatigue from the fibromyalgia. I went to Asheville Cotton Company Co. where I got my bernina and went crazy a couple days ago. They are so nice there and the selection is so awesome I buy more than I went in for! But I am still trying to get my Christmas stuff down. It wears me out. So I feel like you do alot. I see all these gals that have their crafting and creating as their job. Of course, most of them have a hubby who brings in money. I don’t. But I do get envious and depressed that I can’t do that and have that energy. I used to, back when you met me, I wasn’t ill yet then, it happened after a car accident. So I just wanted to connect. You are talented and I am about to put the doll and cat I got from you back out as I get the xmas down.
I have tons of things I want to make, it just takes me longer to get to it. I would like to do a couple craft fairs for fun this year. I hope I can just do that. That would make me happy. I just love your writings and you definately can write!!! So hugs, I know. I even went to art school a year, but didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was forced to go to art school. By my adoptive mom. So when, at 29, I said I was going to nursing school, she said, “But you don’t want to be a nurse.” I guess she thought I should just continue to work at the grocery store.
Ok, Em, I’ve blabbed alot, maybe should of sent this privately, I don’t know, but I know how you feel. I still hope I can have a shop. Even my landlord came by and saw my decorations still up and said it looked like a shop! That made me feel good.
Hugs and I love how you love yourself!
hi emily, i saw this earlier on FB and “liked” it to make sure to come back and read after my kids went to bed. I know how you feel. The internet is such a wonderful tool to connect with others, learn, gain encouragement, grow a business, etc. etc. but it can also be hard to see what everyone is doing, accomplishing, selling, etc. etc. And FB makes it even moreso.
All we can do is do what we love, focus on what we like to create, what makes our hearts sing, rather than look for the approval from the outside world. I have to remind myself that all the time. It is tough though when the artworld is all about putting yourself out there hoping that someone will see your work and like it.
And for the people who are being noticed and having successes, well there’s probably a lot of years of hard, unrecognized work behind the success. The things that aren’t talked about on the glossy blogs and magazine articles.
Anyway, hang in there. Do what you love, create, create, create and your style will come. I look at my first mixed media panels I did back in 2002 when I started creating my journals and I cringe! But it’s all part of the journey.
I hope that we will get to meet one day. Stay warm this week! It’s supposed to get really really cold. brrrrrr. Still getting used to the Chicago winters.
Don’t worry about what anyone else does. Think of all the time you’ve spent taking care of everyone else and not feeding yourself emotionally and spiritually! This self neglect has helped bring you to this point. You have always been such a positive and upbeat person! You need to let go of the negative feelings and just focus on YOU and what you want for yourself. Understanding yourself lets you be the authentic you and subsequently will bring you the happiness and respect you deserve.
You can do it….Be strong!
Em, I think you are a very gifted and creative artist. I understand your frustrations about your work and comparing it with others. Just know that you have a lot of talent and should just do what comes naturally to you. Personally, I really miss seeing your collage paintings. Your paintings are amazing… it was what attracted me to your blog. I look forward to seeing more for the new year… 🙂
You just put into words what I have so often felt about art and life, the web and competition.
Since I was reading backwards from your most recent post it excites me that you painted the woman with the bird on her shoulder after you wrote this. She is being still, but a bird has chosen to sit with her. I think she is you and that you are going to discover some amazing things this year! Birds are going to come sit on your shoulder. What church will you fill with loopy, beautiful branches and bits of color? The church you imagine. Thanks for the the Buddha reminder. That’s just great. Warmly, Sue
I know how you feel though as an artist myself, my need to read other artists blogs and visit art sites depends on my mood. But nearly two years ago I ‘launched’ myself onto the net, joined a lot of art sites, put my work in a blog, on flickr, all sorts of places and thought I’d do well… and I didn’t. I got really disillusioned with it and, after a health scare that made me think more about what was important to me and what wasn’t, I pulled all my stuff off the ‘net, and sort of hid away. I hated what was out there and felt like you. But then I realised – it’s not that my work is bad or that anyone else’s work is better, just that the internet is such a huge ‘place’ that there is actually too much rivalry, and something needs to be done that is more unique, more individual or at the very least in a more individual way. So I’ve been concentrating more on myself for about a year, still doing the art, still showing it (a bit), but I’m not following the herd anymore!
I hope you find something that makes you feel comfortable. Being comfortable with what you do and how you do it, is really the only important thing. Recognition and attention will follow from that. As for ‘notoriety’, personally I could live without it.
Oh Emily, I feel the same way about my creative endeavors. There is so much out there that it is easy to become overwhelmed and frustrated. I realized that the more I read, the more I took part in online things, the more I felt spread thin and the more I started to doubt myself. I’ve slowly been taking steps back to focus on myself and what I value and what I want to create.
First of all let me say thank you for becoming a ‘fan’ of my Women’s Sacred Circles and Retreats FaceBook page. I would have sent you a message there, but your page is not set up for that. I searched your links and discovered you are a fellow artist. I love your profile pic, BTW. Something very authentic about it.
Secondly, let me say how much I love your work. It’s delightful! The cats are wonderful. I love the mixed media texture. …and the nun painting, love that too. Interestingly, Modigliani is my muse as well… along with Marie E.V.B. Gibbons. (I am a ceramic sculptor.)
As to your post here, I must say that I too have struggled with that particular belief around scarcity. I have come to the empowering conclusion that since it is a belief/ a deep seated message from long ago that I still carry and buy into; that I can make the choice to change that belief. In my family, there were many beliefs and messages around scarcity. Not surprisingly, I took them on as my own without even realizing it, or the consequences of buying into such messages. The new message I am working with is: There is plenty for everyone, including me. When I choose to focus and put my energy into this new belief/message, I feel better and I create different results in my world.
I hope to hear from you soon!
Dear Emily Jane, thank you so much for your response to my blog. You see right through me and tell me things I already know but sometimes can loose sight of for all the reasons you mention in this post. Thanks for linking me to it and good for you! I think in the end what I want out of life is simply joy and wonder. I have a tendency to add to those things with all kinds of stuff I don’t want because I get swept away by it. It’s good to keep your feet firm on the ground and remain true to yourself! Thanks again!
I am happy to try to help you….no problem. I was thinking that my blog header says it all for you if you want an answer. It’s a quote from the artist DeKooning, and says “I don’t paint to live, I live to paint.” That, my dear is your answer.
Great post! Thank you so much for sharing!
I’m just restarting to paint and still happy to have all the inspiring sites and groups on the web to jump in, but very quickly I discovered the dark side of it: too much of inspiration makes me stuck = creating less. I have decided to limit the web activities to spend more time and energy creating 🙂
Hi Rita! Thank you for popping in….I know! It’s almost as the old saying is true, that there can be too much of a good thing. I agree so much. It’s best to take small peeks and then shut the door and try to pull the most originality you can from your self and just use the art you’ve been exposed to as a condiment of sorts, as something you can dip your originality in but in whole, the idea is yours….so true.
This Wild Precious studio is one of the first things I’ve allowed myself to actually get into since I wrote that blog post. I just want to go slow and nourish myself with the help of sweet, supportive women.
I’m so happy you were here. Come back often, won’t you?
I’m so happy to have you in the Studio, Emily, and I hope that you find it a valuable part of your ‘creative recovery’. ❤
I am enjoying it immensly Effy…and I do plan on making more time for art starting tomorrow. I really want to get in the groove of creating again.