A New Way of Seeing
I don’t know about you, but I’m a pretty driven person.
Always have been.
As a child, my parents used to call me ‘little miss bossy boots’ because I always wanted to make things go my way. And if other kids didn’t go along, I’d make them. (Just ask Paul, my 7 year-old neighbour, who wouldn’t do what he was told, and who I therefore pushed down some stairs!)
I started work as a sales assistant in a record store and rose through the ranks to be HR VP.
Then I started my own business and turned it into a success despite lots of early struggles.
So when I decided to take my art seriously and start posting it online and showing it to strangers, I suppose I expected the same of myself. I expected that I would rise to the top. That I would market myself and sell myself and do all the things I’ve done in the past, and one day Melvyn Bragg would interview me for the South Bank Show (“60 Minutes” in the US) and I’d be feted worldwide.
Actually, it turns out that, even if I was talented enough for that (which I’m not) I can do none of that business stuff when it comes to my art.
Drawing and painting is too personal to me. Every painting I create is a reflection of how I am feeling. Deep down inside, in those places I don’t share with anyone. Whether my painting is of a cow or a stone wall, or a house, it’s always, always about me.
So when I hold an exhibition and some of the paintings don’t sell, it hurts.
And when I sell a picture, I always think the buyer was being kind, didn’t want to hurt my feelings.
And slowly I’ve realized that putting my art out for sale has made it feel less of a joy and more of a chore. And I’ve come to understand that once you start creating art with an audience in mind, the art changes. You start to paint dog portraits instead of cows, or tweak your vision so it doesn’t offend anyone, or – more damaging – so it doesn’t reveal too much of yourself.
But none of that makes you happy, because true art has to come from deep inside.
So, I have taken a break from creating larger paintings and signed up for for Sketchbook Skool. I’m into the second semester now and I love it. I love the idea of doing your best work in a book that no one else will see unless you choose to show it. I love that there can’t be exhibitions or galleries or sales. I love that I’m meeting interesting people from all over the world who share this passion. And most of all, I love the feeling I get when I open my sketchbook and start drawing and the world just fades into the background, and all my worries disintegrate, and for the time I’m drawing, I’m truly alive.
Just like I felt when I was 9 years old instead of 51.
I will share my sketches with you when it’s appropriate, and I’m sure sketching will inspire more larger scale paintings, but for now I’m just playing in the sandpit (and trying not to push anyone down the stairs!)
I suppose I’m saying that in art, as in life, you need to find ways to just be yourself, without worrying what anyone else thinks. And when you do that, good things always happen 🙂