January is a time of reflection for me. After the mad rush of the holiday season is over, I relish the slower pace and take pause to reflect on the work I’ve done as well as take stock of what I did well and what I could have done better. I usually spend a great deal of time sketching new ideas in my sketchbook, diving deep into Instagram, Etsy and magazines searching for shops and pieces and stories that strike a chord with me. I read books and listen to podcasts that spark my creative energy as well as help me to streamline my practice so I can spend more time painting and less time on all the other stuff. January is a time of looking back at my growth, both as a business and an artist, but also a time to look ahead and plan my next steps.
I’ve had to slow wayyyyyy down as my running has been sidelined by a strained IT band. I’ve been keeping up the mileage with long walks and started listening to various podcasts ranging from introspective, soul searching podcasts to break-all-the-rules creative ones. I stumbled upon a series called the “Creative Pep Talk” by Andy J Pizza (creatives, check it out!). One of the things that resonated with me immediately was the struggle between being an artist and wanting to share my work, and being an introvert who loathes being in the spotlight. It’s something I struggled with as a young kid, coming from a large musical family. Everyone had their special song to sing or play and I would dread when folks would ask me to getup and sing. Like, pretend I fell asleep and miss the rest of the party so I could avoid singing, dread. I’d much rather take a harmony line and blend right in than stand up with all eyes on me. Or with crits in art school, I would look at the amazing projects other students would put on the board and question if I was good enough to even be there. Who did I think I was comparing myself to these people?!
Fast forward to several years ago, when I started 139 handcrafted. I literally thought to myself, “Who the heck am I to share my thoughts and my art with the world?” For a long time, I had to prove to myself that what I was doing was meaningful, not just to me, but to others as well. That it wasn’t just a pretty barn wood sign. (I did make lots of those before I realized that anyone with a cricket could do the same thing and there was so much more to what I could be doing.) Here I am four years later, with a great collection of pieces, still trying to answer that same question. And this is the raw, ugly part that I hope to work though in my work and in my practice as I move forward. Does my work bring joy to others? Does it tell a story that resonates deep within the heart? Did I enjoy creating it? Is there value in what I am creating? Am I being authentic both in materials and design? Is there value in my experience and expertise? For many of my pieces, the answer to all of these questions is YES! But I have to take a hard look at the pieces to which the answer is no, and begin to cull them from the line up. I left a successful graphic design freelance business to pursue something that had greater personal meaning, because if I was going to dedicate the majority of my day doing something, I wanted it to bring joy to others, and satisfy my creative soul. I remember working on an assignment in 2D that required us to make stencils and use them to create a piece with repetition. I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone and make a mother’s day gift for my mom, creating a stencil of roses. I worked on that thing for two days straight, through the night, starting over a hundred times. I finally gave up and ended up with a piece that I was not at all excited about hanging on the board for crit. What I hadn’t realized then, was that I was creating for creating’s sake, trying to make a piece that looked pretty. Had I dove deeper, there are a million ways I could have created something that represented the strong, passionate, giving soul that is my mother.
I need to dig deeper, share more of me, not just my work, but the stories and thoughts behind it. Hiding behind my work doesn’t tell the whole story. Much like the mom who is never in any pictures because she is always the one taking them (me, also!) I need to get in front of the lens more and be a part of the story. And that is the hardest part for me, but is also the good stuff.
So, in the coming weeks and months, I hope to dive deeper into who I am and what I am doing. Tell me what you’d like to see more of from me…videos of the process? Stories behind the pieces? My creative journey and the thoughts behind it? I’d love to hear what you think!