As a kid, I was pretty crafty (something that probably won’t come as a shock to many of you). Before I could even write my name, I’d worn down every color in the Crayola Crayon box (mint green and chartreuse were my favorites) thanks to daily coloring sprees (and apparently a very heavy hand). I would build Legos for hours and by age 7, I’d taught myself to sew using just a needle and thread and would regularly bust out mini pillows and pouches, pride beaming on my face as I presented my mom with yet another handmade gift. As you can imagine, she was thrilled.*
Even as I got older, my creative exploration continued through high school, where I used all my “elective credits” to take various art classes—ceramics, commercial art, fine art, etc. I loved it! And despite rarely turning in an assignment on time, my art teachers were always supportive and encouraging of my effort and output. So much so that when it came time to consider colleges, they pulled me aside and handed me a stack of art schools to consider.
For various reasons, I ended up going the “traditional route”—initially to a 2-year community college, then finishing at a 4-year university. At the time, it made sense and it’s a decision about which I have absolutely no regrets. But somewhere along the shuffle of life—first as a college athlete, carrying a full load of classes while also working part-time, then as a young professional with a live-in boyfriend and busy social life—I lost the drive for my art, and then eventually, the nerve.
Over the years, I tried to get back to it, but the negative voice in my head always seemed to overpower the desire in my heart: “It’s too late,” “you’re not good enough,” “art is frivolous,” “you should be doing other things.” On and on, the barrage of insults would play out until I submissively acquiesced and got back to the business of business as usual and doing what was expected of me.
Isn’t it amazing how crippling self-doubt and fear and the pursuit of perfection can be?
Fast forward to today and I’m no less fearful about my attempts to be an “artist.” The doubts are still there, as are the perfectionist tendencies and imposter syndrome rhetoric, but my refusal to let them dictate how I live my life has grown stubbornly strong and defiant.
Discipline is a defining difference now, too. Showing up every single day, regardless of if I “feel like it” and committing to creating something, even if it’s total shit, because it’s not about creating a masterpiece, it’s simply about creating. PERIOD.
And also accountability. I’ve committed to #makingarteveryday—a 365-day art challenge through Bardot Brush, which includes daily prompts and weekly encouragement emails. Taking it a step further, I’ve also begun sharing the process on my social media (and now here), because the more people who know about this self-made commitment, the more likely I’ll be to keep it.
Basically, I’m calling bullshit on my tired excuses and tried and true avoidance tactics and eliminating the “if no one knows, then know one will know if I quit” option. BOOM.
Through this experience, I’m learning to be indifferent to how my art turns out and instead focus purely on the process. To once again be a student as I explore new subject matter, mediums, techniques and challenges. To get back to the joy I had as a child, where ideas flowed through me without a thought of whether they were good or bad, just that they needed to be done. And finally, to get lost in the art of making art. A time—be it 15 minutes or an hour—where my mind is calm, my breath is slow and my hands are busied by the intuitive pull to create for the sake of creating, because on a deeper, more spiritual level, it’s what my soul (not just my heart) desires.
Who am I to deny such a need?!
I think Mr. Wright and Mr. Thompson would be proud. Or at least I hope they’d be. But most importantly, I’m proud. Because regardless of the outcome, I will never regret the decision to make art. PERIOD.
What habits or goals are you working toward this year? Comment below, send me a note or reach out on Instagram—I’d love to cheer you on!
S A D Y E
P.S. Below are the first 9 drawings of 2020. I missed days 2, 3 and 4—thanks in part to those old voices, and also because establishing a new habit takes time—but know that that’s part of the process...my process. I’m sure there will be more missed days, for one reason or another, but I’m committed to starting again each day that I can.