But before digging in too deeply with that, I thought I should look back on my artistic journey as a whole. Remind myself of where I've traveled. Remember how far I've come.
Five years ago last month I first started painting with watercolors. I was participating in Art Every Day Month and trying to do as many creative things as I could. I didn't set out to become a watercolor artist and I'm not one of those people that you read about whose very first painting led them to discover a hidden talent.
No, my first paintings were awkward and unskilled.
I had no art training. I couldn't even draw, not really.
Maybe this awkwardness should have discouraged me from continuing with watercolors. It ended up having the opposite effect.
I became determined to learn how to paint the way I yearned to be able to.
Back then, and for a while afterward, I was simply immersing myself in creativity. I sewed. I crocheted. I painted. I wrote. I had leapt for my dreams of being a farmgirl and an artist, though what sort of artist, I didn't really know. I had no plan. My goals were vague (I share some thoughts on the early part of my journey here). The picture of my dreams was unfocused.
Although I didn't set out to become a watercolor artist something about it lodged in my spirit and I couldn't stop painting. Even when the paintings were ugly (far uglier than those four), I didn't give up.
I was naive. I was stubborn. I moved at a snail's pace, in fits and starts, taking detours, backtracking, discovering my path as I went along.
Benjamin Franklin once said: "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail."
Fail I did.
I think failure can be a wonderful thing. It can be our greatest teacher. I've learned so much more from failure than I ever have from success.
Back in the beginning of my creative journey I was inspired by the idea "Leap and the net will appear." The quote is from John Burroughs, but I found various creative people throwing around the idea while inspiring others to leap for their dreams.
It's a beautiful idea. But I think that often it is wrong.
I leapt for my dreams and fell flat on my face. It was painful. I got back up. I brushed myself off. I kept going.
In some ways I'm embarrassed to admit my naivety (it's all here in my blog, sometimes written between the lines, but it's here). In other ways I realize that to deny my story is to deny who I am as an artist. I'm proud of my stubbornness, my unwavering faith (well, in truth, sometimes it did waver, but I never gave up). If my art had come easily for me, I think it would have less meaning. Every brushstroke, every flower, is an act of defiance. Every finished piece is a pledge not to give up.
|I painted my first cyclamen painting (on the bottom right) in January 2011. February 2015 I painted the one on the top left. The other two were painted in between.|
I'm not yet where I eventually want to be, but I'm on my way. Each day, each sketch, each painting, each act of creativity gets me closer. I'm so glad that I picked up a paintbrush five years ago. And I'm so glad that I didn't give up after those first awkward paintings.
As we near the end of the year and make plans and resolutions for the coming year, take a look at your dreams. Listen to those secret yearnings of your heart. And then start. Start today. The beginning might not be pretty. It will certainly be miles from where you'll eventually end up, but imagine all that is possible and simply start.
"The secret to getting ahead is getting started."
What's stopping you?