Keeping Confidence

I'm not really sure how to start this post off.  As this is uncharted territory.  Admitting to something that I don't want to admit, because it shows I am weak.  But maybe by sharing it, you can relate.  I have chosen this path I am on.  Me.  Myself.  And I.  No one has been more a part of this creative journey than myself.  I've walked into this journey with confidence.  At age 18 I wandered into the Dean's office at Auburn University and said, "I want to be an art major".  Without one art class under my belt ever, and without a beautiful portfolio of images to share.    That's why last summer I said, "I'm going to run a half marathon" when I'd never run over 3 miles in my life.  I like lofty goals and usually this confidence I have deep within guides me to a successful finish.

This is how I've always rolled.  A loner by choice really.  I love being alone, independent and capable.  Sure, there have been times when I've lost the mojo.  But always there seems to be another door just waiting to be opened.  I have chosen this life.
Two years ago as you know I started teaching full-time.  I've taught for 16 years, but not many of those are full-time positions.  I am now teaching Monday-Friday all day, after school, adult workshops in my home, Art and Soul Workshops across the United States, Southern Circle Retreats and more.  It's a lot of teaching.  And I love it.   I enjoy sharing my gift.  As a general rule everyone leaves my class feeling confident and pleased with their paintings.

The painting above can't say it better...this is where my story of a struggle begins.  You see I have a heart that wants to please.  A heart that wants to share, needs to share and loves to share.  But after 2 years of teaching and sharing and giving others the confidence they need to move forward somehow along this path I appear to have lost mine.  It's like my well has run dry.  I'm just plain old tired.

And this folks, is how I know this to be true.  You see, I entered this "thing" (I have to call it this because I don't want to share at this time what the thing is, but it is big.  Do I have a chance to win?  Just as much a chance as anyone else.  That's my glass half full attitude.)  I entered this thing without hesitation and with joy actually.  I was excited.  And then the first assignment came over.   I read it, and thought I can do this.  And then I thought about it too much.  And then I got upset when I saw another artist's sketches floating with some of my ideas in them (she was not by any means copying me, we just had the same ideas as many artists do since there are no new ideas to be had just new versions of ideas.)  And then I thought about it some more.  And looked at all the computer generated art being made these days.  I have no computer art skills.  Ask me to make a PDF and I'd say "You want me to make you a peanut dough fluff what?".   I can photo my art perfectly, edit and make it the right resolution.  But I can not take my art, put it in the computer and manipulate it into let's say a bolt of fabric.  I've no training in this area.  So all this....thinking....and computer crap put me over the edge.  To be completely honest with myself it's not the kind of artist I want to be either.   At this point I jumped head first off the high dive.  And haven't emerged from the waters yet.

You see, just like everyone else out there I have struggles.  I just hadn't thought about how all my sharing and teaching was really affecting me and my own art.  I have to admit this entire summer and well really....since I finished the 52 canvases project I've not painted anything.  Sure, I did the bike for over my sofa (which actually sold so now I've got to paint another one) and I started another big one.  But in actuality I've not sat in my studio and created in a very, very long time.  I just haven't felt like it.  Seriously.   I've lost my confidence.

It's funny, as I've been writing this post and looking for images to use I am amazed at the amount of art I have in this Dell computer.  I don't even remember painting this bike above.  But dang I love it.  And the words are very true on it.  I am spirited.  And eventually I'll get back to myself.  The pattern is emerging.  I've been sketching again.  Taking it everywhere I go actually.  Usually this is how my creative confidence starts.  I draw, draw, draw....clean out the studio....then gather supplies.....then paint.  So perhaps this is just the start. 

I like sharing these things with you here.  More than anything this blog is my personal recollection of living a life as an artist.  It helps me to look back and see a pattern of more confidence and less confidence.  It helps me to see where and perhaps even when the weakness crept in.  I just haven't had this kind of struggle in a long time.  I don't really like this side of me.
So, did I decide to submit?  I'll let you know later. The deadline is tomorrow.  I've got my submission ready, it's just a leap of faith that no matter the outcome I am confident in what I made.


Beth HF said...

Jenni-I am in the EXACT same boat. For the exact same contest, since you shared it on FB. So, it's all YOUR FAULT:) ha ha ha .....here's what I decided. I really like the image I am working on. And THAT IS IT. Who freakin cares if anyone else does. I love your colors. I love that you have ups and downs. I haven't made anything in FOREVER!! I am going back to teaching FT in the fall and it scares me totally. Will I completely dry up? Okay, you submit and I will too. Let's jump! Who cares!! xoxo, Beth

Lucy May said...

You are not alone in your struggles! My family constantly urges me to do do more with my art...sell, print, teach. (I think they are only thinking about money that could be made.) I wavier back and forth. Part of me is itching for the journey but a deeper part of me just desperately needs art to be be a creative outlet for stress in other areas of my life. You see, I also teach school. I was a an education major that chose two very different subject concentrations: Sciences and Art. I have taught full time for 25 years, all science. Why? First and foremost is the fact that Science teachers were desperately needed and I had my choice of schools to work at. Art teaching jobs were far and few between. The second reason was that I needed the art and the creative process to be just for me! I was so afraid that if I taught art all day I would never want to do art at home. To this day, some of my very best work has come during the most stressful times of the school year...TESTING!
I am right there with you on the computer stuff. I teach at a high school technology magnet school. We are suppose to be top notch in using technology in the classroom......I struggle! (So do most of my fellow teachers of a certain 40-55 age bracket!) I can do things with paper and pencil so much faster. My students are my teachers and usually just do my techy stuff for me! I am lucky to have a daughter that is a computer graphics guru..... she amazes me with her ease at the computer.
So, start pairing down your art teaching, so no more often and you should get your groove back soon!
I love viewing your work on your blog...great colors, happy, happy, happy!

jenart said...

Jenni - I know exactly where you are :) I am in such a creative funk and felt so alone in it. I am also an art teacher and even in that dream job I am not feeling it. It is so bad that I actually feel afraid. So altho its not nice knowing someone else feels this way - it help knowing I am not alone. It is winter here in South Africa and maybe once the warm weather arrives I will feel more energised!!

I wish I could come over there and give you a big hug.... You are so awesome and inspiring - love you - Jenny xxx

Jill Cooper said...

Maybe your creative slump is just from being so tired. Listen to your body! Sometimes we get so enthused we think we can do it all, all the time. I've finally figured out I can't - as much as I want to - I just can't.

mama bleu said...

I was part of the first MATS course so I was automatically enrolled in the same contest you are referring to. I understand the lack of confidence. The talent in that group is amazing. I submitted my piece and I am not completely 100% in love with it but that is the nature of my technique....it's not perfect. Submit your work!! Don't get to Tuesday and kick yourself that you didn't do it. The water is fine....come on it :)

Christine said...

jenni...i love your honesty....not only good for your soul it seems, but also four ours who read it. so many times i have thought about just cleaning out all the fabric, treasures i have collected for creating the things i do...for me painting is very much a struggle but i love to take a class from you because you make me feel like i CAN do it. you are an inspiration...chriis

nacherluver said...

Awesome pot. Art, honesty, raw reality. Thanks for that. Hope you leap as your art is so worthy of giving it a chance to fly. Always a fan.

Jaime Barks said...

Jenni! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing! I've been in a bit of a funk too. I've started selling more of my work, which is awesome, but it comes with this pressure to keep producing. It has majorly given me creative block. It is funny because selling my work is a dream come true. But with it, comes so much pressure. You are wonderful and I thank you so much for sharing. I know you'll find your voice again soon. Take a deep breath, relax and remember why you love to create!

Patsy Paterno said...

I think your work is wonderful! It has a certain charm all its own. May you find the courage within you! :^) patsy

Trace said...

Hi Jenni and friends! I just stumbled upon your blog this morning while searching for an art studio in Excelsior, MN, and I'm so glad I have horrible searching skills and found you instead! You have a new follower - I'm sucked in, and I can't wait to hear about how the contest went for you!

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