Art has always been a mystical field for me. Having taken only one art class in high school, I didn’t have a lot of exposure other than visits to art galleries. I would wander from piece to piece at each gallery, stunned at how these artists came up with such amazing ideas. Where did these ideas come from? Divine inspiration? Brilliant epiphanies? Whatever the source, I was sure I did not possess the brain cells necessary to create these masterpieces.
Being very left-brained, I went to school for engineering, reveling in the order and objectivity of numbers and equations. However, I soon realized this was not enough. Staring at the same thing all day exhausted my brain and using the same equations became monotonous. I then started working at the Jerry’s Raleigh retail store assisting with event planning, and I finally got the exposure I needed to the art world. I realized that real people were taking these workshops and learning to create art. All of these people had other responsibilities, such as jobs, kids, etc. Yet they still found time to paint, draw, or exercise the right side of their brain in some fashion. This was a wakeup call. These artists were not the pretentious, full time creators I had pictured. Some of them had formal education in art, but many of them had stumbled upon this area later in life and picked it up as a hobby. It was during this time I started to think, “Maybe I CAN do this!” Very enthusiastic at this discovery, I signed up for a workshop and came in prepared to learn everything there was to know about becoming a master artist. That definitely did NOT happen. I thought that once someone had shared the “secret” to art with me, I would be able to do anything I wanted. I quickly became frustrated that I could not come up with fantastic ideas and then, when I could think of something, it was as if my brain and hand were speaking different languages. My perfectionist nature was getting in the way and telling me everything I did was wrong or ugly.
Fortunately I was working under a boss who is also an artist and she was, and continues, to be a mentor to me. She shared with me that art is a journey, not a destination. At first I thought this was just a cheesy clichÃƒÂ©, but soon began to believe what she was saying. Most artists don’t sit down in front a canvas with a finished image in their head. They begin to play with the paint and create; as Bob Ross used to say, “Happy Accidents.” I also became friends with another amazing artist who said the point of art is to make “interesting marks.” I also learned that many artists do not finish a piece in one sitting. They take the time to walk away and relax their mind, understanding the idea of getting bogged down in details and not being able to see the forest for the trees. I realized that I was comparing myself to people who had been doing this for years, expecting to produce results similar to them. That was crazy! I was expecting to pick up a basketball for the first time and play in the WNBA.
Beginning my journey only a year or two ago, I am definitely still a beginner. I am learning to turn off my inner judge and let go of my perceptions, trying to enjoy art for the sake of art without trying to create a masterpiece each time. I am also learning my strengths and how to utilize them rather than copying someone else. I am still inspired by the professional artists I’ve had the pleasure to meet, but I know I will not be like them overnight. Art truly is a journey, and I feel I’ve just begun!