I wrote this in 2015, but Sunday is for silence, AND we were talking about symbols in The Wilderhood this past week, AND Iris and I were talking about imposter syndrome and comparison and feeling like real artists during our interview (upcoming in Book Of Days for May’s content), so this felt relevant.
Most of my peers in the on line journaling/mixed media art world were artists before they started teaching. That is not the case with me. I was a writer before I started art journaling, and art journaling was something I took on so I could unblock myself as a writer. I didn’t ever dream (or even imagine) that I would teach art journaling. I didn’t ever even want to be a visual artist.
I came to art as a rank beginner in 2009 and dove into teaching because, essentially, someone dared me to. It was accidental – or maybe serendipitous – and it was entirely unexpected.
This means that I STILL spend a lot of time feeling like what I want to create and what I’m capable of creating are just not jiving right now. I *do* feel good about how I have progressed over the years. I do see great progress in my skills. I do feel proud of how much I have learned and how I’ve integrated all I’ve learned into my own personal art practice. I feel really good about the content I create in terms of how well it facilitates ART as PRACTICE. I am very proud of the writing I do in the classes I teach. I like my classes and if I weren’t teaching them, I’d want to take them.
But I am also painfully aware of how much better I think everyone else is at the ART part of what I do.
I have a few personal mantras that get me through those periods of time when I feel like I’m utterly deluded and should just pack it all in. One of them is “Enthusiasm counts” by which I mean that my enthusiasm for my chosen art form (art journaling) counts as a valuable contribution to the arena. Another is “Done is better than perfect”. I pull this one out especially in reference to the spreads I create for Book Of Days because sometimes I create a hot mess, and I have to cut myself some slack. Weekly spreads are easy if you’re not ALSO editing, filming, creating screen shots, writing accompanying ‘step-by-step’ instructions, and formulating musings to go with the post. The fact is, sometimes I create something I’m not fond of, but I have to get it up there, so I have learned to live with these problem children that spring from my creative loins.
I think it’s good for me. It’s an antidote to perfectionism to throw up work I’m not crazy about and say WHATEVER ELSE HAPPENED THIS WEEK, I MADE SOMETHING! TA DA!
But the whole “It’s about practice, not product” line is starting to getting old. I’m getting restless. I want to feel as good about the art part as I do about the self-inquiry part, the practice part, the encouraging part.
I want to love my art.
This week, I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions about symbols and meaning. I’m building a library of things I find beautiful and meaningful on Pinterest. I think of it as seeding the mud. The mud is my subconscious, from whence all art comes. The seeds are images, symbols, palettes – inspiration.
Right now I’m collecting things and I’m working up the nerve to start doing sketches of things – working out how to get these symbols into my own paintings in a way that pleases me.
This seems a bit counterintuitive to me at the moment because there’s a voice in my head saying JUST PAINT – but I *also* know that a part of my restlessness comes from feeling like I’m in an art rut. I use the same images over and over again – mostly faces. Occasionally a tree. Bird stamps. I need to have a better stocked library of personal imagery to work with before I can “JUST PAINT’ because otherwise, I’m just painting the same old thing over and over and THAT is BORING ME TO DEATH! *lol*
Two days ago, I was all about birds and especially women with birds. Today it was ‘fish’ which led to ‘Koi’. It feels like I’m learning my own internal language, and that’s helping the restlessness a lot. It’s also helping me to feel like I’m *doing* something to close the gap between what I want to create and what I’m capable of creating.
When you want a thing, it is extremely important to begin moving in the direction of that thing. Otherwise, I find myself getting bogged down in impostor syndrome and stinkin’ thinkin’ and other poisons. I can’t really call myself an impostor when I’m actively moving towards having a greater personal library of symbols to work with, can I? I mean, I’m doing the work.
That makes me a real artist.
If you’re doing the work, you’re a real artist, too.
I’m an apprentice artist, for sure. I’m a beginner artist. I’m a baby artist. But that doesn’t mean I’m *not* an artist. It means I *am* an artist.
An artist in progress.
I can live with that. :)
P.S. A note from 2019 – I’m feeling much better about my art these days. My skills have improved over the years, and I am generally able to make things that look like I want them too. Like this painting from A Year Of Rumi. That little figure…thrilling. Those tiny hands. Wow. Practice, my loves, really does make progress.
Speaking of art and practice and progress, this sale is still on till April 29th and there is enough content in here to keep you busy for YEARS. Get it!!