What Do You Do When The Artist Screams…Let Me Out!!?
What do you wanna be when you grow up?
When I was in seventh grade I had an amazing art teacher that taught with such passion and love that I decided then that I wanted to be an art teacher just like him. At the same time, I had a great Home Ec teacher (remember them?) that I adored and she taught with the same passion and commitment, butt with a little more strict hand. So I decided I could be an Art major with a Home Ec minor. Then I soon found out that you needed to take all kinds of science and math to teach Home Ec. So that idea went out the window. No way was I gonna take any extra science or math classes than I absolutely had to! English, maybe. But I didn’t think that far down the road. I didn’t even think that far down the road when I was going to art school. Like why was I going to art school and wasting my time taking education classes at an art school instead of taking all the art I could? Or why didn’t any of my counselors guide me to the fact that I should have something like and English minor to fall back on, because a young art student doesn’t know the ways of school systems? And after getting my BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) and my teaching credential and spending FIVE years in that college school system, coming out and not finding any teaching jobs available anywhere, why wasn’t it the college’s responsibility to advise, direct and help me plan my future after graduating? Isn’t that part of what a school should do to help their students be the best they can be? Really? WTF? As I think about it now. I had professors that taught me in art classes how to be a better producer of art, not how to be an artist out in the real world. I had academic classes that taught me how to do lesson plans, but not how to teach. I had a painting teacher that told everyone on the first day that he didn’t believe in giving grades for art and we would all get ‘A’s”. I got an A, he got fired. I had professors that barely taught anything, they were there to subsidize their own artistic career and had no desire to spend much time with an undergrad class. I think I can count on one hand how many professors that I actually learned something from. The college system has changed a little since then and I have learned that they now offer a business class for art students. IT’S ABOUT TIME!!! There’s my rant. Sorry if it took a bit getting out. I feel that since that whole experience, it is my job to guide young artists when I meet them and help them understand that they plan on going to college, they should go with some sort of a plan or understand that it is their responsibility to ask the questions they need to help them further their steps when they get out of college. Geez! I wish someone would’ve told me THAT, at least!
So what to do when your life long dream is shattered and you don’t have a plan? It’s a common thing nowadays. It wasn’t so much back then. I floundered for five years doing all kinds off things from owning a little general store outside of Groveland, to working in a women’s clothing manufacturer in San Francisco, managing restaurants, selling coffee to offices in the financial district and orange juice to restaurants, amongst some of the craziness of finding myself. I happened on sign painting and it felt good. I had taken one lettering class in college, “I can do this”, I thought. Thirty-five years later, I looked back at a fun career that I fell into and from that small fall I painted murals, learned graphic design, did color consultation, interior decorating, exterior design, and just about anything else that would pay my rent artistically. I worked with crazy deadlines, great clients, challenging customers, and all of the ones in between. I supported my daughter and myself in a profession deemed to be a “man’s” and made an impact through doing what I said I was gonna do when I said I was gonna do it, even if it killed me. And a couple times it felt like it was going to!! But I was being creative and I wasn’t stuck in a cubicle somewhere, losing my mind and my spirit, or missing time with my daughter. I never planned to be a sign painter, or get divorced and be a single mom, or run a business, or sell my talents to large corporations or small businesses, or private individuals. I just wanted to teach.
But I learned on my own how to do all these things and how to survive out there in the world…and Love It! I never planned any of it. Didn’t have time to learn how to run a business the right way, just did the best I could. The kids I went to school with that were lucky enough to find teaching jobs in fields other than art are now retired with a pension, whether big or small. They dealt with administrations, kids that didn’t want to be there, conflicts in the schools, worrying if their contracts were going to be renewed, and other bureaucratic and classroom hassles. Me? I know I’ll probably be working til I fall over with a brush in my hand and a smile on my face. But I can always figure my way out of a cardboard box.
So that’s some history. Fast forward to 30-some years of painting and designing anything that was art and actually making a living at it, (albeit no retirement), I am teaching! The world turns. I don’t have to deal with administrations, classroom bullies, cliques, contracts, or being at school by 7:00 AM. I am turning people on to art and creativity that thought they could never do anything like it and people are coming back because they are having fun. And now, my “artist within” is stirring.
What Do You Do When You Are Supposed to Do the Exact Thing You Tell Everyone Else to Do?
Here comes the part where the rubber meets the road. Here is where the artist has time to make her art and discovers (or makes) barriers, excuses, reasons, cons, or whatever you want to call them, why she shouldn’t take the time to delve into the deepest darkest part of her artist soul and find out what she’s made of. After years of making art for everyone else, what comes to mind, what bubbles up to the surface and how is it defined and where does it go and what does it look like when it gets there? A sight that wants to be faced, but also wants to hide. It’s like working for years in a cubicle and being set free in the mountains and not knowing what to do first or where to go and there’s no map. You’ve been thinking of it for years and anticipating what it might be like and all of a sudden it’s here! Surprise!! I’m here! Dig down into your core, your soul, your very reason for existence all these 30-some years. Should be easy, right? Not. Screaming to get out, but not sure where to go.
Dilemma…Do you go to paint murals in a beautiful small town in heartland Wisconsin with your artist friends or do you sequester yourself in your studio and see what comes of it? And if you go to Wisconsin to get rejuvenated with fellow artists, will you be disappointed when you return and have nothing to show for your time and feel the withdrawals from the spirit of the event, as well as the emptiness of not having anything to show for your time? Or door three…do you apply for an arts residency in Sedona and get a bit of both experiences rolled into one? Ooooh, the quandary!!!
The decision is close to being made. It’s either sequester in my studio or someone else’s. The decision is close to being made once I hear from Sedona, next week. I will then try to figure out if I will dive in at home at the end of June or dive in at Sedona at the end of July.
Did I mention there might even be a Door #4? Take time to maybe paint a 60 foot mural out of town, by myself. Potential possible job, but yet confirmed.
All this in order to tell you this is why you haven’t received a June party calendar yet. You knew there had to be a bottom line somewhere, right? Well, now you have some insight into an artist’s life, trials, tribulations, challenges, and ego.
It’s The Journey, Not the Destination.
Last year June was quiet at Brush & Cork. I could’ve taken the month off. I thought graduations and vacations slowed business down, as people changed gears for the summer. This year, I have had quite a few phone calls for private parties in June! If you haven’t seen our calendar yet, check it out, here. Wow! Private parties are happenin’! Thanks to everyone of you that has shared the fun and spread the word. Brush & Cork is a fun place to have a private party or come with friends (or even alone and meet new friends) to a public party. I have blocked out some Judy Time at the end of June til July 3rd for painting. That could change if I end up going to Sedona. But I am making sure that it will be there if I want it there. I have to say, it is nice for the first time in over thirty years, I am learning how to make Me Time. Now THAT is growth!! Whichever way things go, I will share with you all what the outcome of it all comes out to be. Even if it is a bunch of paint abstractly splattered on something. Afterall, this is what I tell everyone in all of our parties at Brush & Cork…it’s the journey, not the destination. Time to practice what I preach and share with you what is before and what comes after. Maybe this can give you insight into how you can enjoy the journey as you try something new when you come to Brush & Cork. Maybe it will give you insight into the creative process that every artist, maker, creator goes through when they are reaching for parts unknown. To this I say, please join me on my journey.