Wednesday, February 16, 2011

scenes from mid February - perhaps the hardest month of the year

I want to be an artist* (there I said it)
I want to make a comfortable living being an artist
I want to be creatively successful
I want to feel creatively successful

I'm struggling again, I'm spinning my wheels, standing almost still (actually sitting still at the teak topped desk) much of the time, in a kind of neutral stupor of indecision. Too many avenues
I could go down, feeling pulled in too many potential directions, and trying to hit a bulls eye on a few external, constantly changing moving targets. It wears on me ... I'm allowing it to.

Yesterday I visited Kelly Rae Roberts blog (she's a huge mentor to me for a plethora of reasons) and she was talking about her goals & dreams - her Mondo Beyondo list as she put it - "you know, the big guns, the dreams that you're almost afraid to say out loud because they're that precious, that outrageous, that meaningful". A list she compiled in 2009 and how miraculously grateful she felt now because looking back she had achieved many, many things on her list. So of course I began thinking about what would be on my MB list and that I should most definitely take the time to compile one. Almost instantly that voice, you know the negative, the nattering voice, the critic whatever you wanna call her starting with the hand on hip, shaking of the head to emphasize her every word. Who the hell do you think you are to dream so big, hope so big, want so big ? Huh ???

Don't get me wrong in my personal life, in my other Susan who lives in the charming brick house with a view of the sea life I am as happy and content as I ever thought I could be. I don't dream or want for much at all in that life because it feels like I already have such an abundance.

I'm flailing however in that other very important life, my creative life, my job. I will concede that perhaps flailing is a necessary part of the process. I'm trying different things, my work, my style my creative thing is all over the map. I don't like that. I feel like I'm trying to steer a large ship laden with assorted skills, abilities, passions & talents and I'm stuck on a sandbar called - what's that expression ?? good at many - master of none. I'm currently reading, studying, following The Artist's Way , a book I'll confess to having poo-pooed in the past, I did lots of eye rolling - morning pages ?? Huh ?? I just didn't get it. At this time in my life, with my creative career in such ongoing flux & angst this book is saving me. It's Eckart Tolle for the artist's soul. Honestly.

I have no doubt that I will eventually get my ship unstuck from this sandbar, I do believe that flux is good, that it's essential for it ultimately opens you up to new things. I believe that all this hard is good, all this tough is making me stronger, better ... I also know (especially on these long cold, snowy winter days stuck for now on my sandbar of indecision) the goodness of oranges, chocolate, shaggy black dogs, kitten kisses & that handsome Prince of ATG**.

* I'm beginning to believe that I no longer want to be a designer who's job is always to realize someone else's dream but I want more and more to be autonomous and just dream my own creative dreams - it's a scary proposition, it's a thrilling proposition, it's a freakin' Mondo Beyondo dream of mine.

** of All Things Good


  1. Hang in there you artist you. I still believe.

  2. You are an Artist! Just in case you need something to read check out our Colorado's own Alyson Stanfield (art biz coach dot com).
    Tail wags,

  3. Oh my gosh, are you kidding me??
    You ARE an artist!! You are one of my daily inspirations.
    I'm a big believer in "Dream Big", but in your case I don't think you're dreaming.

  4. Thank you ! and I guess I don't explain all this very well. "I am not" making a living currently from my creativity, something that I had been doing successfully since graduating in the mid 80's. I spent 5 years in art college preparing myself well to make a living doing what I love, being creative.

    The struggle I'm having has everything to do with the financial compensation "from" my creativity.
    In order to continue on the path I'm currently on
    I have to earn an income. Rather than have a job at the grocery store or the hardware store I still continue to hope, dream & scheme making a living from art, but my breakthroughs & opportunities (and I do have some) have been very, very slow to materialize into monetary compensation - it's pressure that I allow in & it effects my confidence.

    Your comment Sarah has made me realize that if I were independently wealthy I likely wouldn't be battling this battle and with such fervour on a daily basis. Debt (and the thoughts of incurring more of it) is a terribly motivating, albeit stressful, evil. It taunts me. How I choose to spend my creative time, what given path I choose to go down at any given moment always has a cloud of winged dollar signs circling around it - can one find creative inspiration when the bottom line seems always to be - will this make me money ?

    That sounds so terrible.
    Honestly ... again.

  5. that last sentence is what is correct in my opinion. think up your own thing, execute it and use your experience in making other peoples dream happen to make it happen for you. as delicate as this sounds, watch out with this "stampington/somerset" altered art look. it is as infectious a visual er, meme, as i have ever seen. its become very ...oh what is the word im looking for? cliche. please trust your own vision and dont be looking at others work to hard. just my two cents.

  6. i didnt say that right. i meant, i dont want this to sound harsh, or a dig on other artists, but the somerset thing has gotten waaaaaaaaay overexposed and rampant. im sick of altered art. there. i said it. now i go down in flames! aaaaaaaaaaaaaeeeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiii

  7. omg Chickory ... I can't see my own vision. Oh no ... I'm creatively blind !! Well, I knew that already "that is" what I'm going on about.

    I'm hoping that when the dust settles the subject matter, composition and message in my work will be mine and that the collagey mixed media-ness will seem like a technique or a style (abstract, realism, etc...).

    merci my friend for the constructive criticism/feedback. Bring it on please, more ...

  8. the way I look at it is this: i do various art-related paying gigs for money. then when i make art, its whatever i want to do. I started making those folk art chicks for walkin around money and its worked out pretty good. If i had a farmers market to go to everyday, id do pretty well on the money front. Lately I am back on "A" level painting. When I have enough pieces, I'll try and get a show. But the most important thing is an authentic voice -an original vision. thats what brings the KWON, n'est pas? If you just look at Etsy, for instance, you will see hundreds of artists that assemble rather than draw. or they do one thing. like, the same girl over and over with different hair colors and backgrounds and or totem creature. i know you know what i am talking about. when we look at art, what is it that rings true -its that specific vision with a universal appeal. one thing you have like that is "everything reminds me of my dog" which is a great valentine to dog love. its executed in your unique style. but its appeal is very broad.

    back to drawing. YOU can actually draw, and well. if you think about the somerset style, you'll see what i mean about assembling elements of fussy stuff and glomming on a ton of product. I think youre a better artist than that.

  9. Hey Chick, I sure do hear everything that you're saying and the dialogue is wonderful. I need it ! so merci for that.

    I guess I feel too often like I've either misplaced my authenticity, my originality & vision and sometimes I feel like I've yet to know it. I'm trying to find it, create it, discover it and so much of the time I become lost in the trying to make a living part. After all, you must remember I have been a designer for more than 20 years ... always working with someone elses' creative vision.

    Have you read The Artists Way ?? I've picked it up numerous times over the years but for some reason now's the right time - it feels like it was written for exactly the state of mind I'm in and it does help me tremendously not to forget that this is ALL a process.

    In our painting class we watched a video interview with Brazilian painter Beatriz Milhazes, the interview asked her if the process of painting and of being a painter got easier and she shook her head and said "No, not at all, after 25 years staring at the beginning white canvas it's harder than it's ever been".


    xoxo S & Missy D

  10. Such a fun struggle you are in actually, isn't it? With your life going relatively well and smooth...and the struggles are deciding just how big you want to dream? How lovely. I truly believe with your talent, you can do anything. I always enjoy your work!

  11. thank you Betsy for putting your lovely spin on things. xo S & les Gang

  12. What a great discussion. It's way above my head but still. Now I'm off to google somerset style.

  13. Ahhhhhh, gotcha now. I love artist's journals but the somerset style seems to have merged into artist's journals and sketchbooks and turned into something else. Interesting.

  14. And I want to be paid to write, have a writing career, be anywhere in the world and communicate my thoughts and experiences, and have people read them and care. Big dreams. I don't have to be wealthy, but I would like to make a decent living at it. I can TOTALLY understand the debt fear. Money worries can be completely crushing, and are currently keeping me at a job I don't love, but pays decently. *sigh* Hugs to all 29 Black Street residents. :)

  15. I love your Mondo Beyondo dream there, sistah. Love love love it. Just checkin' in on your posts this week and as always you take my breath away.

    Flux, floundering, oh my. And such support as you go through it.

    You will do it, you are an artist. You are an artist.

  16. Dear Susan,

    I feel so connected to what you wrote in this post and in the comments. My dreams are very much the same as yours.

    I often wonder if Kelly Rae ever just feels like she has lost the passion to paint yet another girl? And maybe she does, maybe she then just does something completely different?

    Nice to "meet" you in class.



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