|2,000 points would be enough for me to buy a few more months of premium membership!|
I'm a 25 and live in Las Vegas after I got my BFA in drawing (the concentration doesn't really matter, I paint most of the time anyway).
I started drawing since I could hold a pencil, and art has been the driving interest in my life. I had my ups and downs in art school (read my first journal entry), but it made me who I am today.
Brief life story: I grew up on a small family farm just south of Nashville with my parents, two older brothers and fraternal twin sister. It was 85 acres of forest, field, pond, and creek bliss. My childhood was perfect in almost every way, I had loving parents that always provided for me and I never had a night were I went cold or hungry. I attended a conservative southern baptist church every sunday morning, evening, and wendesday night. As I was grew up on this beautiful farm, I gained an immense appreciation for animals and the environment. When I was 16 I became a vegetarian for personal and religious reasons (I thought it was what the kind and compassionate Jesus would want me to do in this day and age). However, when I came to church with this new ethical standard I was met with mockery and scorn. I continued through school, being relentlessly teases as usual. From middle school onward my nicknames were, among others, 'goat girl' (because I had big front teeth), 'tree girl' (I cared about them), 'freak' (the old standby), and 'glendal' (after the Beowulf monster). I started to become very passionate about environmentalism, gay rights, human rights, and women's liberation. As with the vegetarianism, all of these ideologies were condemned in my church. I cared very much about Christianity and evangelism, but I was finding it harder and harder to simply be accepted in my faith community.
I would most often retreat into my fantasy world in school, drawing endless amounts of faeries and unicorns and elves to pass the time. In church I drew on the bulletins and tried to surreptitiously read fantasy novels like Harry Potter sitting in the pews(that, too, was condemned by my church).
Tragedies happened in high school, and I lost a couple friends to car accidents and health problems. It taught me so much about the significance and brevity of life, and really pushed my personal ideologies towards love and activism for others.
I survived high school and made it to college were I fell in love for the first time and starting dating. He was British and it meant travel for me if we wanted to stay together. I spent Christmas in England, and moved to Paris to study art for my sophomore year. I lived in France for almost a year, loving almost every moment of Parisian life. I came back to America and immediately fell into new tragedy, as one of my dearest and oldest friends committed suicide just a few weeks later.
As with the other deaths it was profoundly painful, but this one really shook me to my core. It was beyond my understanding and losing a friend to suicide is one of the worst things you can go through. The why's and how's and what-if-I-had's haunt you for the rest of your life. A year later my parents got divorced and I ended my relationship with my boyfriend, and year after that we lost the family farm.
I know that's depressing information, but it's really important to know in relation to my art making, and why I create what I do. This is why (I already wrote this in my first journal entry, but I'll just copy-paste it here).
I spent so much of my time never doing what I really wanted with art because I was so caught up with what I was 'supposed' to do and what I 'wasn't' supposed to do.
I need to make an important point here - expanding your artistic horizons is completely and totally essential. You need to be shoved out of your comfort zone and crawl your way back through self-doubt and constant soul-searching. You need to look at art that makes you disgusted, art that shocks you, surprises you, arouses you, emboldens you. You need to experience art that blows your mind and art that totally leaves you nonplussed and disappointed. You need to learn ancient art history, old art history, art history of cultures completely opposite of your own, contemporary art history, and underground art history (and all the other histories in between). Read contemporary art articles and theories. Get frustrated with how egotistical some of it is and get humbled by the pure honesty and humanity of others.
However, having done all of those things and still feeling like I couldn't be free in my art, like I couldn't create anything I really wanted based on an invisible set of high-art rules that dictated what 'good art is' and what it 'isn't'. I was suffering from severe anxiety from very traumatic life events (my parents divorcing, losing one of my closest friends to suicide, breaking up with my first and only boyfriend of 3 years, losing my family farm, etc., etc., etc.), and I just didn't want to do art that spoke about these events in any way.
I asked myself,
"Why do I make art?"
And the pure, totally honest answer to that question was,
"Because it gives me joy. It makes me feel good."
I make art because it gives me pleasure. So no, I did not want to make art about my trauma, I wanted my art making to be cathartic, gratifying, enjoyable, and meditative. I had so much anxiety and pain that I just couldn't bear for my art process to be anything less than peaceful and happy. I understand that art is not a binary issue, it doesn't have to be horrible or amazing, miserable or joyful. But to me, I just couldn't find any middle ground or subject matter that I really cared making art about enough to dedicate lots of time, research, materials, and energy into. I also want my art to be genuine, and making art that is uninteresting to me just feels dishonest. When my feelings about the art process are real and engaging, it pulls my focus in entirely and not matter what the literal content matter is, it feels like Truth to me.
I was also getting very tired about how esoteric and elitist my art degree was feeling. When in my studio, it was a firestorm of ideas and discussion and laughter and beautiful engagement about art, art theory, history, technique, and so forth. Once out of the classroom, however, and I was hardpressed to get any of my friends and relatives name 5 famous artists, and if they did they would inevitably all be dead (think Picasso, Van Gogh, Davinci, Monet, Michelangelo) let alone any contemporary artists at all. The only contemporary, currently-making-work artist any non-art major could name me was Banksy.
So as a passionate and intellectual person this was incredibly frustrating and upsetting to me. I loved art so much I want to discuss and debate and wonder and question about every aspect of it, most of all with those in my life and the people I love the most. But my compilation of art education was somewhat lost and wasted once I stepped outside my studio. Also, it made me feel like such a pretentious douchebag. Like, I'm hanging out with my friends and I want to start a conversation on the Futurist Manifesto in relation to contemporary internet culture and how Dadaism is totally relevant in terms on graffiti artists. I want to be clear that I do not believe any of those topics or ideas are inherently pretentious, but to understand and appreciate them they do require a certain amount of education.
So where did that leave me? I finally decided to say a quite literal "Fuck it," and allowed myself to be free with making art that just completely, and I know my next choice of words is going to sound so cliche, felt right to me.
And right ended up being super saturated colors, intricate designs, hummingbirds, colored hair, and representational portraits of women. Nearing the end of my college career I began a retrospective of my work, looking through almost everything I've made, back to doodles I drew as a child. And I saw a pattern from the time I started really drawing.
I had been doing this subject matter and drawing style throughout my life, and I never realized the big connection until now.
I had come full circle to the subject matter that I, consciously or subconsciously, felt the most compelled to create. I finally decided to stop fighting it anymore, and just let myself be free with my art making. I struggled and butted heads with my professors and was constantly battling the glaring unspoken cry of, "BUT IT'S NOT ART!" anytime they looked at my work.
I have literally discussed with professors, either light-heartedly or no, about the fact that the more 'likes' a photo of your art gets on facebook, the less good and successful it is as 'real art'.
Thanks for reading <3 <3 <3