Here is the thing about artists. Something I am learning about myself anyway. I’m not sure every artist feels this way. I just know I do… at least today.
I just watched a short video on how society kills creativity. If you haven’t seen it, check it out here. At the end of the video, I just wanted to cry, it brought up so many memories, not just about myself, but also about my daughter.
My daughter when she was three years old, drew these amazing abstract pieces of art. I remember asking her one day what one of her drawings was and was promptly told, “It’s a machine Mama.” I laminated that picture so I would be able to keep it forever because I knew in my gut her time in public school would change her art. It did.
The other thing the video brought to mind was how I feel sitting down to do any piece of art, whether it was a class assignment or something I wanted to do on my own. The feelings that arise within me as I sit in front of a blank sheet of paper, no matter what color, or even if there is something already draw on it and I need to add to it, are confined. They do not flow freely. It is difficult to describe this feeling. It is like knowing something is there but you can’t see it, you can feel it, but you can’t reach it. It is the most frustrating feeling in the world, at least for me.
Seeing the boy, turn to observe the violinist, the sense of awe and pure joy is what all artists should feel or it is what they WANT to feel at the beginning of everything they start, but instead, many, like me, feel confined, held back, as if there is something seeking to burst free but has been tightly locked up and we have lost the key to unlock it.
I don’t recall as single moment in my life where I have been told not to do something a particular way. I do recall being shown EXACTLY HOW to do something. Penmanship lessons in first and second grade are a perfect example. (I could give a million other examples of every lesson learned in and out of school.) Letters must slant just so. The tail on the last letter must curve up, just so. Only in later grades were any of us daring enough to try and add a curl to the end or to create larger ovals on our letters, or big loops on the tails of ‘y’s and ‘g’s.
I’m good at copying. If I am really meticulous I can recreate a lesson almost exactly as my teacher if I have the same supplies she/he does. I learned how to do this through years and years of watching others in school, in society, what was acceptable and what was not acceptable. So much so, when I try to let my imagination have free reign, my imagination suddenly finds itself halted in its tracks, not knowing what to do. Or, how to do it. Or where exactly someone’s instructions, or copying ends and my imagination starts.
I felt like crying at the end of the video because I could totally relate to both the child and the adult. I find myself today, having begun a new job just this week, relating so very much with the adult in the video. I could feel my color drain from me. I have spent the past year and half, not working, at least not in the ‘normal’ sense of a job. I spent that year and half working to discover and reawaken my inner artist. I worked on trying to break down the conditioning society has placed upon me since I was a small child. And now I find myself having to shrug back into that conditioning in order to step back into the workplace to bring in the money I need to take care of me and my daughter.
I try not to write about my personal life here on this blog. This blog is supposed to be about my art, my experience as an artist, and my journey. But, I would be remiss in leaving this out. I would be horribly remiss in leaving this part of my journey out.
I am not alone in this. I have no doubt there are hundreds if not thousands of artists out there who have to suppress this part of themselves in order to survive. In order to live and work to make ends meet. This is not what I want in my life any more.
I worked my first full day on Tuesday, came home exhausted, with no energy to create. Towards the end of the evening I could barely keep my eyes open after just putting a few pen strokes on my journal page I have in progress. Today, I found it very difficult to get focused for working on my journal page so I decided to be brave and try working on sewing.
I won’t go into describing the sewing project right now other than to say it is supposed to be a quilted pillow cover. I may go into describing it in another post but not now. This was something I could easily stop and start during my day as I had to go to an appointment and ended up in an out of the house while running errands.
Writing this post tonight has me in tears for many reasons. I feel as though I am losing ground on what I have accomplished over the past year and a half. I feel as though I am reverting back to that person who was so bound up and lost in the business world and so out of touch from her inner artist. I haven’t had a chance to work on the Mandala Madness course which has also made me sad and heartbroken. Ever After 2017 which I won a seat in has also had to take a backseat. This is only the first week of returning to the workforce and I feel like I have gone into mourning over the loss of a close friend.
I feel the color drain from me. I feel like the child handing over the final lesson where he has finally written his letters as he was instructed to write them, without any creativity. I feel like I’m in a world where all is repetitive, dull, grey and somewhere there stands the violinist in a tiny little spot, under a small colorful tree, which no one sees as they go about their day.
It is hard to move forward in the world when there is so much grey around you, reminding you, and discouraging you from creating your own colorful world. It can be like trying to break through a thick brick wall, to only have another brick thrown over the tiny hole you have created that gives you that tiny bit of hope that you are on the right path.
I feel you! I became a single mom (first child) at 42 and put my life on hold until age 68 — after school/college. I’m retired after 50 years of working and FINALLY can do what I day-dreamed about while drudging away hours and hours at my desk. I now try to create as much as possible. I’m hoping I can manage to live long enough to create everything I have imagined for all my working days. Life is so good for me right now. I wake each and every day thanking the Lord for another day. I’m nearly 70 and I finally can do what “I” want! Hang in there and may God bless you and fulfill you!
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Thank you Kathryn. I know it is going to take some time to find my rhythm with this new change. I was just feeling it especially hard last night after watching the video. Thanks for commenting and I’m so glad you are getting to do what you “want” to do! Yeah, and God bless you too.