Our Art in Public

We attended my husband’s grandmother’s funeral on Wednesday.  Grandma Fuller lived a full and rich life to the age of 101.  It was not until her last few years that she needed to live in a nursing home.  She golfed, hunted, fished. . . and painted.  She was an artist.

My sister-in-law, Julie, gave the ulegy.  Julie spoke of Grandma’s ability to create. She voiced how Grandma taught her to “see”.  Grandma was always looking for the beauty in things and then she would paint them.  Julie talked about some of her paintings and how she would collect odd bits of nature and display them in the house.  Conversations revolved around all of her art.  Paintings adorn the walls of most of her children and grandchildren’s homes.  She had this gift.

I listened and pondered about this and I became fearful.

As a young girl, I drew and made books.  As a young mother, I made quilts, sewed clothes for my children, hand-stitched stitcheries for wall art, created hand-stitched and painted dolls, and even built bird houses and decorative shelves. These items were mostly given to friends and family as gifts or I sold them in craft shows or gift shops.  I shared my art this way.

When I started teaching full time, and especially, when I trained and became a literacy coach, all my creative juices came to a halt.  Except for some writings in my writers’ notebooks, of which I mostly used in my trainings and kept private.  For the most part, my art was occasional and certainly not made public.  Even the art journals that I create in, I rarely share.

So, why am I fearful?

All of a sudden, I realized that if I don’t begin to go public with my art somehow, I will eventually die with my art inside me.  Even more frightening would be the thought of having no one know who I really was.  How sad for them to discover all my work in boxes and boxes of notebooks after I die.  Even all this writing I do on Penzu.  No one would ever find it.  You need my password to get in.  It’s lost forever.

Jeff Goins had an entry last week about making our art public.  He voiced how important it is to share our art.  Our art connects us with others.  Our art can help others that feel the same things as we do.

So, why was it so easy for me to share my quilts, dolls and stitcheries and it’s so difficult for me to share my writing and my painting/art journal work?  I think there are several reasons of which I need to analyze.

1.  My quilts, stitcheries and dolls were creative, but, not up for criticism as much as perhaps writing or painting.  Quilts and stitcheries have shapes, patterns and letters that are pretty standard.  Kinda difficult to screw them up.  Writing and painting is more personal.  Mostly, I write and create art for me.  I, myself, am critical of much of it.  So, I fear critism.

2.  I don’t like attention.  I don’t want others to think I do this for attention.  I HAVE to do this for my soul.  It feeds me.  It’s like breathing.   I have a hard time even accepting a compliment  when my hair turns out right, let alone praise or any kind of attention over my art.  I get all tense and anxious when someone even comes into my studio because I know they are looking around and my work.  Ughh. . . I just don’t feel ready to show.

3.   My Childhood.  I love my parents more than you can know, however, praise was not handed out for every little thing we did.  This is not a bad thing.  We worked hard, not for outside rewards or verbal praise, but just because we knew we were supposed to work hard.  My mother had a way of allowing us to develop internal gratification for our accomplishments.  I know she did not want us kids to be ones that walked around thinking about how wonderful we were.  She feared too much praise would create arrogant, overconfident children that can’t do anything without outside motivation.  I still believe this.

So, showing my work feels wrong because in my heart, it feels like I am looking for praise.

Geez, I have issues.

How am I going to deal with this?  I don’t want to die a “secret artist”.

1.  Maybe I need to print all my Penzu posts from now on and just put them in my notebook.  That’s a start.

2.  Get the book proposal done for my book on listening. That’s sharing.

3.  Make more of an online presence.  Share my work with other artists and groups.  Not all over facebook.  Maybe have a separate facebook page just for my writing and art?  Hmm. . .

4.  Give some of my work as gifts.

This is a big start for me.  I’m going to have anxiety about it. . . like walking into a room full of people you don’t know.  It will be scary.

But, I’m way more scared of dying with my art inside me.