Photo: Ceaser Photography
“What do you do?”
I get asked this question a lot. A lot more since I lost my job and started out on my own.
“I am an Mixed Media Artist”
Then the questions start: “Where can I see your art?” “Is it for sale?” Then comes the statement that I cringe at: “I never knew you did this.”
Point blank: I never told anyone what I do. I don’t advertise my work. I don’t post it on social media and I don’t enter art shows. Recently I read a post I wrote three years ago about quitting the design world. But it all stems to one story and looking back to 18 years ago makes my know why I hesitate every time I meet a new client or why I hesitate posting my work. No matter what there is always one person with an opinion and all I can hear is: “What you did sucks.”
It happened 18 years ago about this time. I was a senior in high school and I spent most of my time in the art room. I had two passions back then: writing and art. I read poetry, wrote short stories, and painted. I painted a lot. Most of my clothes were stained with paint and I always smelled like turpentine. I really didn’t care much about anything except for the canvas or notebook in front of me.
I was in the art room on this day. I was working on my self portrait and it was my final piece. It was to hang in the art show and I was already frustrated with it. I spent extra classes in the art room. Study Halls and even after school-this was to be my masterpiece.
There was a group of people in the art room that loved to pick on me. Bullies were huge back then, but there were no school shootings or drama around bullies, so they were just left to pick on the weak. I always thought this group was picked on by the jocks and so they decided that they should just let it roll towards me. I also liked to think they were jealous. That is how I dealt with being picked on: I thought I have something they don’t. A boyfriend, a group of friends and sometimes even a nicer home. it was mean and I never picked back. I just thought things and was able to brush it off. Plus if they saw it effected you they picked more.
But one thing was picking on my art. I was never told my art sucked or was horrible. People either said nothing or they ate it up.
I left my painting alone for five minutes while I went to the ladies room. When I got back it was almost clean up time. I did a few more brush strokes and then cleaned my brushes and started to clean up my paint. I had a special place for my painting granted to me by the art teacher. I lifted my painting and there placed strategically under the canvas taped to the desk was a sheet of paper with “This Painting Sucks” written in black sharpie. I froze. I looked at the paper and then to a group of people all giggling and pointing and waiting on my reaction. Without a second thought I walked to the garbage can and threw the painting away. I then stood by the door and waited for the bell. I had no tears and no anger. They had no idea that the only thought in my mind was to go to CCAC and choose a different life. They had no idea I was all set to go to art school the following fall. They had no idea that I had chose to make art my life. I then felt a hand on my arm. I was being lead out to the hallway and all I could hear was the art teacher asking what did I think I was doing? When I explained the note and where it came from he demanded I went to the restroom and then come back and have a seat in the classroom. I followed his instructions. I never knew what happened in that time. I did come back to the art room to where my painting was back out the garbage and the person who wrote the note was in the hallways with the teacher. When the bell rang I didn’t move. I sat there staring at my feet. When he walked back in he just said that I can’t give up because of someone else. Then he said “Go on, I can’t give you a late pass.” And he smiled.
18 years later and I still hate the art world based just on this moment. I have never had a gallery opening, never been published and never had my art in a magazine, other then my own.
I tell this story openly to finally get over it. I need to make it now or I am going to just go back to running restaurants and sleeping a lot. So every time I take a new photo or I make a new piece of art I want to post it. Just never tell me it sucks, or I am going to ask you why?
BTW: The painting is in the picture above and currently resides in a plastic bag on the floor of my studio.