Sunday, April 19, 2009

'Being an artist was only a childhood dream.'


I've been working in my art journal in a new way lately. It's purely for me, I have to keep reminding myself that no one else will look at it, and even if they do, it doesn't matter. This doesn't sound much of a revelation, I know, but for some reason I've never done this. Not through years of a fine art degree, not for all the ensuing years after that. I suppose I'm of a very self conscious nature and deep down, would never put something on paper I wasn't comfortable with sharing. After many years of dissatisfaction with my art it all ground to a halt. I told myself things like "Art is not very useful anyway.' and ' Being an artist was only a childhood dream.' No wonder making things became so hard.
Not too long ago, I felt like I was having some kind of crisis. There began a gnawing unsettledness, a dissatisfaction that grew more and more everyday. It was very weird because I could feel it inside me but I had no clue why I had this physical sensation. One morning I woke up very early, my head was swirling with ideas about painting and colour and pen and ink. It suddenly all came to a head and the message was there- 'I feel like I'm not expressing myself, my real self.' and I realised then that my years of being a wife and a mum were contributing to this sense that I was holding myself back. I don't want to share my journals in their entirety online, but I'll quote this that I wrote in my diary that day- ".....my drawings lately have been fun and pretty, just like pen drawings I post to my own blog are 'fun and pretty' but strangely unsatisfying. I would like lots of people to read and comment on my blog, but this means making things that please people and....it is feeling empty to me.
I realise I don't write like I used to or make drawings like I used to (in my journal) because I'm self censoring. I expect the kids will read my diaries and look at my drawings one day, and I'm afraid they'll be shocked."
It was a shock to me that I had been living like that for the past 10 years or so, I guess the idea of being the perfect mother and wife had taken root inside me that long ago and over the years established itself to the complete detriment to my artistic ambitions or even worse- to the detriment to my own integrity. That day, I had an idea, I simply decided that the journals could all be all locked in a safety deposit box and my children could access it only after they had become adults themselves. I felt comfortable with the idea of them reading my intimate writing because I thought once they had their own adult experiences, I could at least discuss why I had written or drawn certain things- I could explain myself and appeal to their understanding.
Since that day, I have been writing and drawing completely uncensored and am so surprised at the lightness I have gained. It's like discovering the meaning of life, except perhaps I've discovered the meaning of being an artist.
I certainly don't believe I'll never show any work again, but I feel like I've finally found a way to inject the public work with my own essence, which I suppose is why some art is so authentic. I believe art is never wrong, whatever reason a person chooses to draw what they do, I believe, is the right reason. It is just such a surprise that for me, I seem to have been missing the most important part of my own reason for making things.

On a lighter note, I found this link on the 'Creativity web' site about recording ideas. It's very extensive. I particularly liked the suggestions to use-
  • perspex sheet and wax crayon, useful for the shower and swimming pool.
  • stick sheets of butcher's paper behind the toilet door and hang a pencil on string. Encourage visitors to your home to add graffiti.
Because you never know when a great idea will strike!
Thanks for listening.

2 comments:

Shirley said...

I really enjoyed making a return visit and reading your reflections on creativity and your need to make things that please you. Hope you will still have lots of "public" pages to post.

anne m bray said...

very well written and so true