Art Journal ~ 2005
I've been wanting to share my story of how I became an artist with you for a while now, and it seemed like a good time to do it today.
The story starts many years ago in an art class, in a college in Sheffield. I was generally a good student but like alot of 18 year olds I also enjoyed chatting with my friends and helplessly giggling too. One particular day my art tutor called me into her office - we were having one on one tutorials. She was a rather robust woman with a no-nonsense attitude, floaty clothes and Mary Jane shoes. I remember her asking me what I wanted to do in the future and I told her I wanted to be an artist. She shuffled some papers together and frowned slightly - I will never forget what she said next; 'You will never make it as an artist, so I suggest you start thinking about an alternative career right now'.
My world crumbled and I felt hopelessly crushed and small. At 18 in those days, you listened to your tutor, they told you the truth and you respected their opinion and didn't think to argue back.
I left her office, closed up the creative well in my soul and stuffed my paints into a drawer to be forgotten. I was no good at it, my tutor had told me so - so what was the point? I left college with three A-Levels and a heavy heart, and took a job in the Payroll Department of the NHS for almost six years. A few years passed by and one day a chap in the Pensions office brought in a framed painting his daughter had done - he was proudly showing everyone and I felt a wild stirring of envy - I could do that - yet I didn't - not anymore.
From a Sketchbook - Over to Dungworth from Stannington, 2004
That night after work, I went up to my room and dug out my watercolour pad and paints. I remember drawing the Island in Newquay surrounded by crashing waves from an old postcard and painting it slowly over the next few days. When it was finished, my Mum asked if she could frame it and hung it in the living room.
From a sketchbook - The Merry Maidens, Cornwall, October 2004
It was a slow process though. I still had no confidence when it came to my art, I didn't believe I could ever be a painter, hadn't my tutor told me so? And so I resigned myself to believing that art was a hobby, and I dabbled with it here and there as the years rolled past. Around this time I got very interested in Interior Design and enrolled on an evening course which led to me applying for university - I got accepted by the University of Plymouth and headed south in 1997.
University was fun, and the course was fabulous. My tutors were great too, confidence levels soared thanks to their guidance and encouragement and at the end of my course they told me to write off to the big companies in London ~ Conran and Fitch etc for work placements. By the end of my studies, I really knew I had to do something creative with my life - nothing else would do.
Fate is a funny thing though, and inbetween writing off to all the Big Interior Design Companies begging for employment, I took a 'stepping stone job' (to earn some quick money) as a signwriter!! I really enjoyed learning the ropes and it was also how I met my current Other Half! He became a mentor, encouraging me to paint more when and where I could and as a creative person himself we spent alot of time talking about art and visiting galleries together. Funnily enough though, I still didn't believe I could ever call myself an artist and the self doubt remained.
From a sketchbook - inspiration page
It was around 2005, when we moved into our little house that I rediscovered Sark aka Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, an author and artist with the most outrageously amazing zest for life and living the creative dream. I had stumbled upon one of her books in a shop in Totnes whilst studying back in 1998, and liked her colourful You Can Do Anything approach to life.
So, a few years later, I bought a couple of her books and joined her forum. I tentatively posted photographs of some of my work on there, my new online friends wrote such kind, supportive and generous things that I remember having tears in my eyes as I read them - you see, complete strangers were telling me that they liked my work, and that to me was unbelieveable. On several occasions, Sark wrote comments too - that totally rocked my world!!!
From an art journal - 2005
I began an art journal with the encouragement of these new friends and discovered creative resources and books that were extremely helpful - that's how I found Julia Cameron and The Artist's Way which I worked through religiously.
I remember one of my Sark friends getting in touch to ask if she could buy two paintings ~ I was dizzy with joy. They went to Brisbane in Australia and I began to feel the spark of possibility inside...I could do this, I could actually...be...an artist.
Moon Fishing...off to Australia...I began to take on less sign writing work, and spend more time painting at home. In 2006 I made the leap to work full time on my art, which was a short lived affair as soon after doing so I discovered I was expecting my daughter!
However, a milestone had been achieved. I had rediscovered my confidence as a creative person during those years, and I fnally felt comfortable calling myself an Artist, something that was impossible to imagine ever doing once upon a time.
As my wee girl grew, I found scoops of time to create more art, teach workshops, take part in exhibitions and to begin writing this blog, which I started a few years ago when my girl was a baby. A friend suggested I do it to keep the grey matter ticking over, when I was sleep deprived and short of time with the demands of a little one to care for. A blog seemed like a good thing to do, to find something creative to write about each week that could be done whilst the little person napped.
This blog has led to some wonderful things - I have got to know many lovely people, have been endlessly inspired and had the most unexpected opportunities come my way. You have all been a part of my journey as I reconnected with my artist self during those blurry days as a new Mama, to now (Big Thank You's).
I wanted to write this story here because I know there are other people out there who are afraid they can't do something or have been told that they shouldn't, just like I was. I am in the process of creating something to help encourage souls who want to get messy with paint, smudge coloured oil pastels onto paper, draw furiously or stitch wildly with rainbow threads...and I will post about this once it's all ready to go :)
Would you like to find your inner artist and let it out to play? Then come and see me again soon and I will share my new project with you!
Thanks for reading and visiting, Ive enjoyed your company!