In the Summer of 2007, I picked up a paintbrush for the first time. Though I am sure I painted, drew, created my way through elementary school and maybe into the middle school years, from my teens on to the age of forty-three, I was not the artist.
But then there was that day at an art camp my children were attending that someone believed in me before I could believe in myself. She created a portal for me and all I had to do was step through. It was a terrifying moment, huddled in the corner of the room, crying and wanting to run out of the building. I knew my life would forever be altered. With one big breath, I stood and chose my path.
It was a mess of years that followed as I fought the old thoughts that tried to define me and undefine me. I slowly built this relationship with art making, with creating something from something else. It was my healing; it was my reclaiming myself.
Something has changed. Something has worked its way into the process that is blocking the flow and the desire to create.
I used to create because I couldn't not create. I carved out a corner of the dining room in our overflowing mobile home. I woke in the dark to paint; I stayed up in the wee hours to write. During one of the most difficult years of my life, I worked part time, homeschooled my remaining teenagers, taught at a co-op, cared for my grandsons while my daughter worked while also caring for my aging mother. In the midst of that very busy year, I painted more than I have ever painted. It was survival. It was sacred and glorious.
just a few of the paintings from 2013
Now I find myself with more time than I've ever had, with more space than I've ever had, and I am creating less than I've ever created.
What has changed?
I started a business.
More specifically, I made the art making a business.
It was the very next step in this life as an artist but all the thoughts swirling around the what and the how are choking the very life out of the art making. Suddenly, I find myself worried about being good enough or obsessing over what will or will not sell. (I can tell you what won't sell . . . art that isn't being made. LOL!)
It's not the money making that is tainting the process. I don't need the money to survive. It's the pressure I am putting on the art as a business to validate what I do and who I am. A real artist sells her wares. A real artist puts her art in galleries. A real artist knows how to run a business.
There was a time in my life that I offered from overflow. My creative life was so full that it couldn't help but spill out into the world. Now, my creative life is a trickle and I am trying to pump more and more from a dried up well.
Something needs to change. I've known that for a while. I recently considered applying for a job, seeking a catalyst to create more. It seems counter intuitive that I would think with less time and energy I could create more but I have seen that play out in the past. With the limitations, it seems more urgent. It's easier to prioritize what is important.
That's not the answer.
I think I need to quit the job that I have. I need to quit the job that I have turned the art making into. I need to return to creating for myself, to exploring that process because it heals and it is sacred and it is glorious, to making art simply for the sake of making art.
From a business perspective, there will be little difference. This is a change of heart, of perspective, of choices. This is my relieving the pressure from the most sacred work that I do. It is not the responsibility of the art making to define who I am . . . at least not from the perspective of spreadsheets and accounts. I make art because I am an artist. I write because I am a writer. I live a creative life because I am a creator, a maker.