nailing my colours to the mast

toi toi

apropos of nothing – toi toi against a clear, cold winter’s sky.

Those of you who have followed my blog will know that I recently went back to work full-time after a few months of unemployment.   Having that gift of time on my hands, I began to rediscover play and although I have the attitude that it’s never too late, I was becoming daunted by all the fabulous work I saw on the web, often by people half my age.  I need to remember that they have begun by making it their life work whereas mine has been in education.

Yes, I’m one of the many who have looked too much and done too little and become overwhelmed in the process.  Two people who are very dear to me and who know me well, lovingly let me know that the big difference between the artist bloggers and me was, that they did and I didn’t – and they’re right.

While I know I have a creative streak, can be really inventive and have courage, I was starting to think how these artists whose work and writing I admired, had been at it for years, homing their skills and developing their own style – I felt I had little of either yet what I did do was admired by the few who ever saw it.  Logic and emotion were having a difference of opinion.  I was also aware that I was making this shift, this run at a deeper self-discovery, in my 60s.    Was it too late?  Again, head and heart, head and heart . . .

I talked to friends and family who helped remind me of all the skills I have, of all the times when creativity has erupted like a joyous bubble to save me in one way or another.  During lean times – Christmas presents bought from the proceeds of macramé dog leads, vinyl cowboy jackets, rag dolls, or painted plant pots and how I made a living for myself and my son by sewing for clients.  And again during times when I was depressed and the act of creating something lifted me, and my hopes for the future returned.

Yet still, spontaneity and creativity took back seats, being a parent and provider took over.  As a classroom teacher I still managed to inject some art into my life – it’s amazing how much of the curriculum can be taught to young children using art!  Out of the classroom now, I use intellectual creativity to help others problem-solve.  Unfortunately this is only enough to keep a small spark going.  I’ve been doubting my skills, talent, and I guess, myself – and feeling I will never get up to a standard that I know in my heart I’m capable of.   But I also know that if I don’t do anything, I will never achieve what I want.  I sometimes feel a bit like a voyeur in my own life – looking, but not doing.  Imprisoned by perfectionism!  Do you know that big one too?

After sinking into this fug, I’ve heard or read things that have caused me to take some action.  Some were in posts on favourite blogs, some were words of encouragement and support, words of understanding and words that jolted me awake – BFOs, Blinding Flashes of the Obvious.

As an example, one day I opened Daisy Yellow and there it was, the quote I use under the heading of my blog with Tammy Garcia’s blessing, “You don’t need to catch up, just start.”  It felt like ‘permission granted!’

I’ve not been in the habit of doing something until I was sure I could do it – and I knew that that perfectionist procrastination wasn’t going to get me where I want to be, so I challenged myself and started the blog just following instructions and working it out as I go along.   As a now recovering perfectionist, starting a blog before I knew how to set it up or what it’s purpose would be was a really big step – I can highly recommend learning as you go.

There must be so many men and women out there who have poured themselves into their work and families and forgotten how to play, who have squeezed their creativity into a small box to open later, only to find it rusted shut.  Or, like me, have used it in other ways, creatively solving problems and finding practical, yet creative ways to express myself.   Still, it’s a struggle to find my own style so I’m spending time working in the style of . . . as recommended by Jill Berry when Ricë Freeman-Zachary interviewed her.

I’m going to listen to more podcasts, and look at less images because words often spur me into action. And the podcasts I’ll listen to?  I’ll start with any of Ricë’s.   She made a podcast Tammy Garcia recently and I heard her say “ . . . if you set out to make it perfect then you’re not going to be satisfied with anything.”   Yes, another BFO.

I’m going to openly work in the style of the artists I admire, giving credit to them as I go, and then maybe, I’ll find my own.   So what if I don’t have so much time available?  If I really want this, to be able to say, even if only to myself, “I’m an artist” I’ll find time.

And I do believe I have now found the purpose of this blog, to share how one woman is striving to express herself freely, with child-like creativity, and to show that you do indeed just have to start – even if you’re a bit late.

There you have it.  Watch this space!

23 thoughts on “nailing my colours to the mast

  1. The aha moment strikes again the artist in you is now the celebration. Yes the creative person is always there but now has a voice as well. I’m looking forwards to seeing more of your blog over the holidays. Let’s catch up

  2. Ahh the perfectionist streak – closely followed by a noisy inner critic! Don’t we all have a battle with these – I know I do! All journeys begin with one little step – good on you for leaping in and doing what you do , now 🙂

  3. Thank you for this wonderful honest post. Nods of understanding from so many, I am sure.

    I always enjoy your posts and look forward to many more.

  4. You should consider yourself ahead of the game for having been able to use some of your creativity along the way. I’m one of those whose creativity has been put in a box that has rusted shut. I admire you for striking out and starting up the blog. You put yourself “out there” and that is good. I enjoy your blog – I’ve been a lurker, enjoying your posts, since Quinn McDonald listed you as a good blogger. I have to say I agree with her.

  5. First it was Brene Brown… now Ricë Freeman-Zachery, Jill Berry and Tammy Garcia. My favorites too!

    “… to be able to say, even if only to myself, “I’m an artist” I’ll find time.”

    You speak for us all… thank you.

  6. I’ve always thought you were an Artist mum, from helping you stuff ragidyann doll legs as a child, to you making my clothing and my marvelous quilt and those brilliant hand made cards you send me – to painting plant pots and all the projects inbetween – you exude creativity mum.
    And I have learnt its never too late – hello you went to HK !?!

    all up a great role model, who’s very human

  7. Yay to just jumping in…and trying on lots of new styles for size…and meeting new friends for lunch 🙂 Happy holidays – hope you get lots of lovely creative expermenting time.

  8. The title of your blog first caught my attention and I had to look. Now your words and pictures keep bringing me back. This latest blog is so wonderfully honest and inspiring. Keep on! Keep on!

  9. We are given gifts that are meant to be shared, and I’m glad that you’ve discovered yours because it would be a shame, that you had not shared them! Bravo for you! 🙂

    I remembered, I started when I was 42, and felt so old getting into the art game! So full of doubts, perfectionism and a raving lunatic inner critic…LOL! Now eleven years later, I’m glad I went on in spite of myself, because it is so worth it and so are you!

  10. Thanks for your insight and sharing. I have many of the same feelings and feel a bit overwhelmed by the things I see. I have taken on online unending class (due to my own time constraints) called Letter Love 101. It has given me a boost and the chance to learn and try new things in a “safe” environment. I’m adding your blog to my reader as I feel I can learn much from you. Thanks!

    • And thank you Kristin! I’ve just checked out Love Letters 101, it looks very interesting. I’ve taken 21 Secrets but with a full-time job, I’m not getting as much time on the site and following along as I would like. I think the aspect of 21 Secrets that appealed the most was the range of contributing artists.

  11. Thank you for a very inspiring blog post! I also struggle with finding *my* artistic voice and worry that I’m continually copying ideas of other’s. However, that is my learning process. And once in a while my voice peeps.

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