Out of the Shadows

Coming out of the shadows of a depression surrounding my art has taken me a great deal of time. I was truly heartbroken when my business failed and I had to shut it down. I felt betrayed by my talent, by my dream, and by all those people who looked at my artwork, told me they loved it, but never purchased a thing from me. I barely did any drawing and painting at all for a long, long, long time. It’s been years. There was a time that I couldn’t even stand to look at any art, I didn’t love art the way I used to, I couldn’t get past my own sorrow at my seeming failure. It even got the point that I refused to call myself an artist anymore.

ShadowScapesTWhen the Shadowscapes Tarot came out, I bought the deck. I had been waiting so long for it, as had everyone else, that I set aside my aversion to all things artistic. I took it home, went through the deck, and opened up to my intuition. I read the cards. It was beautiful, I began by freeform vocalizations, chanting and keening as I pulled each card. The healing had begun. I could look at the art, Stephanie’s art, with an open heart.  Maybe, just maybe, I could start accepting the fact that once an artist, always an artist. So I started a small sketchbook, just to try my hand at rendering in pencil, studies only, no grand schemes or ideas. Over the course of a year I put in less than a handful of sketches in a 6×8 book. It was better than nothing I suppose. They say that time heals all wounds, but they don’t tell you how much time. For me, it’s been a good five years. Because any time I touched on the art business, a wound would open and I would find myself in tears. And seeing other artists succeed where I failed was like rubbing salt in the wound. But Stephanie’s art is just too darn good, too lyrical, too gentle to cause me harm. Her talent is unsurpassed in the field, and she deserves every success that she has gotten.

So now I’m working through the tutorials in two of her books, trying my hand at watercolor. It’s a different way of working than oils, and I’m really enjoying it so far. My attempts are clumsy compared to hers, and I’ve only been playing with color and texture so far. They are well written books, and definitely inspirational. I am taking it slow because I’m still afraid of opening that old emotional wound, and setting aside the paints again for good.  I stocked up on the art supplies over a year ago, and now I’m finally playing with them. Having spent the past few years learning to play new instruments, going from clumsy beginner to a confident amateur has been a great experience. Because learning an instrument takes a lot of practice. You have to do things over and over again badly, but try to do them better each time. Eventually I improved, and it’s a great lesson I can apply to my art.

Starting over with a fresh new perspective on what it means to be an artist, what it means to be making art again after a long absence, is a bitter sweet endeavor. The pain has not been eliminated, but it has been managed, and I’m finally learning from it. Not everyone is cut out to be a professional artist. I couldn’t handle the emotional roller coaster of the feast and famine lifestyle. But the art is still there, and ideas still form, there are stories to tell in pictures that only I can tell. For someone like me, whose emotions are tied to my artwork, it’s a lot to admit. My new work will be from my heart, not from the demand of a “market” that I’m trying to reach. I don’t care if I reach anyone, as long as I can reach myself, my heart, my vision. That’s what matters. It took another artist to show me the way, with her hauntingly beautiful paintings. What Stephanie has done with her art books is paint a path that other artists can follow, until they can forge ahead on their own and find and paint  their own paths.

I’m sharing my journey, though it pains me to dig this deep and explore my feelings as travel, but I need to be honest and open with my artwork. Since I’m painting for myself, it does me no good to do it half way.