“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
This first step I am taking feels more like a giant barefooted and blindfolded leap – a leap right towards all of the thoughts that try to convince me to stay still, silent, and small. This painting marks the beginning of this leap.
Next month I plan to enter a new adventure – attempting to begin selling my artwork. I am in the process of creating an Etsy shop and will provide the link here on my blog once it is up and running.
It’s exciting to inch towards this new adventure, and it’s also terrifying. I know I am not alone in my thoughts of not being good enough or talented enough or whatever enough to attempt a new challenge. I know that even on the day I choose to open my shop and attempt to market and sell my work to others for the very first time that the voice inside that screams “your art is not good enough to exist anywhere outside of the walls you create it in” will still be there. And it might even get louder.
But I have to try.
Why? Because as long as I’m still breathing I need to keep trying. And right now I really need to try something new. I feel so incredibly broken inside. This feeling of being insignificant – that it wouldn’t matter if I just suddenly disappeared from the world – is immense sometimes. And it feels like it’s growing. I have this new default answer that comes to my mind every single time I meet someone new and they ask me what I do for work. I hate that it’s my first thought. I hate that it’s such a strong thought. But it comes screaming forward in response to that question every single time.
What do you do for a living? I take up space.
I need to push back on that thought. I need to find a way to create a new answer that I can fully believe in. When I paint that thought and that feeling shrinks just a little bit. It gives me space to breathe. It creates room for possibility. It gives me a momentary sense of purpose.
That is how I arrived here. Full of doubt, loaded with questions, and sprinkled with hope. This new adventure feels like something worth pursuing.
This series of art is inspired by the symbolic nature of the beauty within the changing seasons. It is a reminder to slow down, pay attention, and soak in the details of each moment. When I am in struggle painting helps to clear my mind and make space for thoughts outside of the ones that feel pressing and consuming. This painting was a fun challenge to find and express the variety of colors within a wintry white frozen scene.
“The color of springtime is in the flowers; the color of winter is in the imagination.”
Almost two years ago, at the beginning of the pandemic, I picked up a paintbrush and revisited an old passion of mine. Drawing and painting have always been an interest but often existed in the background with only occasional inspiration. In recent years art has developed into a therapeutic means of self expression and has enabled me to access feelings that are often difficult to wrap words around.
When the pandemic began and my part time job was replaced with remote learning facilitation duties for my two kids, I dove into a creative project that I am now close to completing. I decided to dig through photographs from my favorite trips, places, and memories and paint them. I devoted a room in my house to hang all of these painted memories. As the months passed by more and more paintings were completed and added to this collection. The more I painted the more I enjoyed it.
Almost two years later and the walls of this room that I have devoted to this creative project are nearly filled. I still have plans to paint a few more, but this project is now nearing its end. The interesting part about this challenge that I ventured into is that now as I look back at my first paintings in this series I see them differently. I see parts that I like as well as ways in which I might approach the paintings slightly different – color choices I would tweak, composition choices I would alter, or details I know I can express better now.
Reflecting on this past art work has caused some deeper thinking. I can see in my paintings that my skills have improved over time. It may not be a quantitative measure like improving a test score or a race time, but I see growth in areas that I struggled with at the beginning, and I even see growth where I didn’t know I needed to grow.
As I sit here today in a space of personal struggle – with uncertainty of my value here – doubting my own self worth and purpose – perhaps my paintings can show me something I’ve been failing to see.
Sometimes it’s hard to know where we stand. Sometimes it’s hard to have the proper perspective to find the space that exists between our shortcomings, our own personal growth, and our potential. It can feel so dark and murky that it just feels safer to shrink down in place. Perhaps this reflection on my painting process can be a reminder to look back and remember the struggles that have been overcome and the growth that has occurred. Perhaps then it might be possible to pave the way for a new healthier perspective that has seemed otherwise impossible.
This series of art is inspired by the symbolic nature of the beauty within the changing seasons. It is a reminder to slow down, pay attention, and soak in the details of each moment. When I am in struggle painting helps to clear my mind and make space for thoughts outside of the ones that feel pressing and consuming. While I may currently find myself relating to these barren trees I see before me, a search within for a reframe guides my way towards more hopeful thinking.
“Take a breath and rest your weary soul – for life will bloom again.”
This series of art is inspired by the symbolic nature of the beauty within the changing seasons. It is a reminder to slow down, pay attention, and soak in the details of each moment. Welcome to the 4th creation of my “Seasons” series.
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
This series of art is inspired by the symbolic nature of the beauty within the changing seasons. It is a reminder to slow down, pay attention, and soak in the details of each moment. Welcome to the third creation of my “Seasons” series.
“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all.”
This series of art is inspired by the symbolic nature of the beauty within the changing seasons. It is a reminder to slow down, pay attention, and soak in the details of each moment. Welcome to the second creation of my “Seasons” series.
“Autumn shades the weary soul in golden dreams and long lost hopes.”
This series of art is inspired by the symbolic nature of the beauty within the changing seasons. It is a reminder to slow down, pay attention, and soak in the details of each moment. Welcome to the first creation of my “Seasons” series.
“As long as autumn lasts, I shall not have hands, canvas, and colors enough to paint the beautiful things I see.”
I see you standing in line, waiting to board that airplane. Others cannot see the weight that you carry. But I see it. I see you. You need to know something. When you take your seat on that plane and begin to get lost in your thoughts as you gaze through the oval window towards the ground that retreats from your vision, your world is going to turn dark for a while. It is on this plane that you will begin to feel the weight of what happened to you last night. It will suck the air from your lungs and leave you choking through tears. You will start to make connections and assign meaning to all of your experiences. The words, “I did it again,” will ring loud in your ears. You will believe that what he did to you last night was something you asked for. You will believe it’s the same as what happened during all those years far away from here – the place you ran so fast and so far from. You will berate yourself for not doing better – for not knowing better – for not being better – for letting this happen again. You will believe that you are defective inside and unworthy of anything other than the pain you find yourself drowning in. But you must hear this. You did not let this happen. You did not ask for this. You do not deserve this – any of it.
I cannot change what happened and what will continue to happen to you for a while. I can’t make this go away. I can’t skip this part for you as much as I want to. But I do know that there is much more to your story than this. There is life in you after this moment. You won’t feel it for a long while, but you will see light again someday. I promise.
I wish I could tell you that it won’t hurt. I wish I could tell you that it won’t bring you to unspeakable places. But I can’t. The darkness will feel immense. It will get so heavy and so loud that it will begin to creep inside of you. It will try to change you. It will try to convince you that surrender is the only way. But please hear me. Your home is not in the darkness. Your home is far away from here. You just have to trust me a little bit. I am trying to become what others were unable to be for you back then. I mess up often. I think, and say, and do the wrong things sometimes. I turn my back on you when I get scared. But I’m not leaving. I may stumble and fumble my way through this, but I won’t let you carry this weight all alone anymore.
Your home is a place I created for you. It is a place of safety and clarity – a place of color breathing life. It’s a place I painted – a place I dream of – a place to help us heal together. Your home is our wishing tree. Someday when you are ready you can find me there. You can set your heavy backpack down and together we can sit against the giant trunk of the tree, letting the array of soothing colors shower over us as we unpack it all together.
I know it feels messy, scary, and loud. I know it feels as though you are tainted – that you will stain everything within your reach. But no amount of running, hiding, or hand scrubbing will take this feeling away. What if you could reach out and intentionally glide those saturated hands across a canvas. What would we see? What could we learn? Maybe freedom comes from releasing the story that exists within. What might our world look like if we let our colors be seen?