How many people judge someone by what they see now?
I have a back story, a history; as a woman and as an artist and yet, I find people continually assuming that they know me or they can judge me on the merits of what they see in front of them right now.
Case in point: my art 'career'.
Contrary to popular belief, I did not just emerge into view on facebook recently. I didn't just happen to start painting and Lo! I was a recognised artist. I didn't just start painting yesterday.
I have been an artist for most of my 52 years. Off and on. More off than on because LIFE itself got in the way of my art. There were times when I didn't paint because I didn't have time. I was working to survive. Or I was out partying - I was young, once... Or there were the times when I was very ill and lost in the dark and didn't know how to find my way out - I lost the best part of a decade of my life then. Ten years gone. But I survived and I kept going until eventually I found myself in a place and a time where I could start again.
What you see now is the result of nearly thirty years of ongoing work. Most of it in the last ten years as I have finally found the space and the time to honour my soul and my hearts needs. I missed more opportunities in that time than you can poke a stick at. I didn't get picked up by the major players. I missed the opportunities to market my work in so many ways. The galleries hated me because I couldn't play the game (and ultimately wouldn't) and so refused to host my exhibitions. Did that stop me? No, I just went to the local cafes and made great friends with the owners and ended up having a great time meeting great people and eating fab food:) Often I painted there. But the 'big time' always eluded me because I just didn't have the time to spend to make myself known. I never had the time or the money to go to the big festivals and fairs to plug my work. I was too often sick and I had my child to think about. As a single parent I had no-one who would look after him while I pursued my art. Later I had a bipolar partner - I didn't even leave the house much, then. His death finally catapulted me back into my art...
I don't regret this. The journey has helped make me who I am today and I really love who I am, now. But I get really pissed off when I get lectured at by people who don't know me! They pontificate, they preach. All I hear is how hard they have worked to get where they are and how long it has taken them and how much longer than me they have been working at their art and if I put in (blah blah)....... I get that, I really do. And I am so very happy for them that they have got to the point where their art or their writing - whatever their craft - is now fetching big money and they have a huge fan base... I'm glad that they are making a living out of what they love. I'd love to do that too. I just didn't have the same opportunities or time. My experience is not the same. My path is not the same. It's great to tell me to get out there and market myself and push my art and go to all the places that matter to be seen, but it's not great to tell me, with that holier-than-thou attitude, that I haven't even tried. It's great to tell me that by reducing the prices on my paintings and my work that I am underselling and undervaluing myself - but hey! I have to pay the rent! And the bills! And if I can make $200 selling a thousand dollar painting, well the money is better in my hand than a canvas sitting in my spare room gathering dust and not being loved... I'd rather sell up than hang on...
I get artists with only a few years experience telling me how I should be doing things. Sheesh! I've done this for thirty years! I KNOW what I have to do - but I also know that if I listen to everyone's stories about how they got where they are, only some of it will work for me. So I listen and I ask and I learn. I will never be too old to learn. Many of the things my friends do to market their art or their writing or their acting or singing (whatever their craft may be) involve spending hours and hours and hours of time putting themselves 'out there' in the hope and belief that other people will see and recognise their talent. But mostly they do this because they have to - it's not something you just stop LOL! I applaud them, I support them, but most of all I try to understand that their journey is theirs, not mine. I can learn from their path, but ultimately its what works best for me that matters.
Behind all that is the unstoppable drive to do what you love. Although I have lost so many years to lifes circumstances and happenings, I have never lost that drive to create. At times that drive has been so overwhelmingly powerful it has found other avenues to escape, when I could not turn to art. I have been a musician and a singer. I write, prolifically. I am a published poet and an award winning photographer. These are all the avenues my talent seeks release in when I cannot paint.
So please, do not judge me. Do not think you know me by what you see now. Please, when you look at me, remember that once, I was a child with a dream and that child has now grown through an entire lifetime to who you see before you now. I am now finally, living my dream. My way.
Walk in Beauty