This is what I’ve been doing almost every weekend lately.. DRAWING!
This photo is from a couple of weeks ago – I was finishing up a still life from my drawing class.
While I had my stuff all spread out, working away for hours and being a tad shocked that my drawing actually looked like how I wanted it to look (!!), I started thinking about this artist journey that I’ve been on for the past few years.
Did you know that I wasn’t always an artist?
Nope, not even a little bit. Other than hanging out with artist people, I never EVER thought that I would be making art or that it would now be such a huge part of who I am and how I spend my time.
But seriously, I was a MATH MAJOR when I first went to college out of high school. Art + Me was NOT happening.
I did, however, have secret artist dreams for as long as I can remember. That’s why I hung out with artists. I admired them and looked up to them and deep in my mind pondered what life must be like for them.
I spent much mental space WISHING. Wishing that I could be like them, and feeling pretty certain that I couldn’t. I would often have thoughts that began with “If only….”
Do you ever have thoughts like that? That begin with “If only…”
- If only I could work for myself…
- If only I could be more creative…
- If only I could RUN and be healthy…
- If only I could travel and see the world…
- If only I spoke French…
- If only I could leave my job…
- If only I was more organized…
- If only I could find my passion…
- If only ______________. (Fill in the blank.. you know your secret wishes.)
Well, I want to tell you that you CAN!
You can do anything you want with your life.. ANYTHING.
I know that it may seem impossible. It may feel like you don’t have the skills or the courage or the money or whatever it is you tell yourself about WHY you can’t make that “if only…” a REALITY. But, you CAN make any dream you have happen.
Here’s how I did it to become an artist:
- I finally admitted to myself that I really wanted it.
I stopped hiding my dream of making art. It was a little painful, the longing that was there. It was something that I REALLY wanted, but I didn’t think I could do it. Letting my heart open up to the desire was scary. What if I failed? Or people thought I was ridiculous? But I did it anyway. I claimed that want and owned it.
- I started. I began making stuff.
It started with sewing things and being crafty around the house. I still didn’t feel like I was an artist, but it did feel good to set up a sewing space in my home and to make things that I was proud of.
From there, I started a preschool art group with my kids. I started to learn about art materials and experienced the way it feels to put paint on canvas. Still… I didn’t feel like an artist, but people around me started to think of me as creative – because I was doing creative stuff all the time with my kids.
Over a year or so, the people in my social circles me saw me in a new way. This wasn’t my intention, but them thinking of me as creative helped to shift my thinking about myself as a creative person. (this is HUGE, my friends!!! When your community starts to KNOW you as who you long to be, you start to believe it to. Often they see it looooong before we see it in ourselves).
This part of my process happened just because I started DOING stuff that felt creative and fun to me.
- I put myself in a structure to make sure I kept at it.
About 3 years ago, I decided to go back to school. I started out in a graphic design program. It felt safe – I knew a little about web coding stuff. But, it was creative!
Along the way, I took my first ever drawing class. I learned how to draw something besides stick figures! It was amazing! I officially fell in love with art and switched my major (to art education).
Every week now, I spend hours in art classes and I just keep getting better and better.
- I keep going even when I suck or I’m not feeling it.
I have created a lot of BAD art over the years. But, I’ve also created some good stuff that I’m proud of. And, with every horrible piece I’ve made, I’ve learned something that has made me better.
They say practice makes perfect and I know I’m a long way from feeling “perfect” as an artist, but I do see myself getting stronger – both in my abilities and in my confidence.
- I take baby steps.
Everything that I’ve learned started with a small baby step. I remember buying my first sketch pad and then having no idea what to do with it! But, I bought it – a baby step.
Now, I fill up sketch pads all the time and have quite a collection of them. I even know about the different papers and what type I prefer to draw on. I’m becoming an expert, which happens slowly, over time. But, it happens.
- I practice.. A LOT.
I spend at least 10 hours every week working on art! At least. Often much more.
It’s important to me, so I devote time to it. My house often gets messy in order for me to do this, and other stuff falls to the back burner, but being an artist is a priority, so I make time for it.
- I spend time with people that encourage and push me.
I have the best art teachers and mentors around me. They know my goals and have seen my failures. They know what I’m good at and what I need to work on. I trust them.
Because of our connection, these people help to push me forward, toward my goals. I’ve accomplished things I never thought I would because they believed in me.
This is another KEY part of making dreams happen – Don’t do it alone!!!!
- I learn. I take classes, I read, I try new things.
This one is really a no brainer, but it’s important. I try to not come at things like I already know. I bring my curiosity along and allow others to critique and tell me how I can get better. I read and research and explore. Always.
- I share with people about my journey.
Everyone around me knows that I want to teach art to teens. I want to share the magic of creativity and make a difference. It’s who I am and I live out loud about it. It’s what people now expect of me and they come to me for guidance and encouragement in their own creative pursuits.
I post images of the work I’m doing, even if it’s not that great. Because I want to be KNOWN in my community as an artist, so I share about it all the time. The more I do, the more that REALITY of Me As Artist comes true.
One day while I was working on a painting, I realized.. I AM an artist. I’m no longer WISHING or wanting or trying to become.. I just AM. And I claimed that title for myself.
It didn’t happen overnight, but by putting myself on the path and moving towards what I wanted.. here I am.. making art. All.The.Time.
Sometimes the work I do is good, sometimes it’s awful.. but I have confidence now in who I am and the mark I want to leave on the world as An Artist. I became who I wanted to be.
What’s cool about this story is that YOU can do it too.
Whatever your “If only…” is, YOU can make it a reality. You really can. You just have to start, to begin and follow your own path toward becoming.
Start with my 9 steps:
- Admit to yourself what you really want.
- Start. Just begin. Do SOMETHING that is on the path of your dreams.
- Put yourself in a structure that keeps you working on your goal. A coaching group, a class, a mastermind, an accountability partner, etc. Come up with a way to make sure you stay in the game.
- Keep going. Even when you fail (you will) or you doubt yourself (you will). Just keep working on whatever your dream is.
- Take baby steps. Start with one thing – something easy – and go from there. I think we get overwhelmed by all there is to learn or do to make our dreams happen, so we don’t think we can do it. But baby steps are a big deal, don’t discount them! They lead to the good stuff happening.
- Practice. A lot. You aren’t going to get good at what you want to do if you don’t make it a regular, ongoing part of your life. Make time for it.
- Spend time with people that encourage you and push you to grow and keep at it.
- Learn. Don’t be afraid to look stupid and be a novice. EVERYONE who made something big happen had to start somewhere. Get committed to learning and exploring and discovering.
- Share about your journey and how it’s going. This is a great way to see how far you’ve come, what you’ve accomplished and how you’ve changed. And talk to people about your goals and your dreams. Let the world know what you are up to and what you want to make happen with your life. They will do much more than you realize to help pull you into the reality of living your dreams.
I know I make it sound simple and, really, it is. Move toward your dreams. Allow your wanting and then start to take action. By doing so, YOU can live ANY life you can imagine!