I have just completed my first painting commission.
I've wanted to paint for as long as I can remember. In fact, I wanted it so much, that I denied myself the pleasure of following that path. I was so afraid to fail or succeed, that I decided I would never be good enough, so why even try. Making jewelry felt less daunting so I chose to explore that instead.
Lately, however, I’ve been wanting to work in a larger format. Such is the power of my mind, that the moment I admitted this to myself, I received a commission to make a big painting. My angel patron liked the one in my home, but gave me full liberty to create what I wanted. She also gave me a video tour of her house, so I could see where the painting was going to live.
Years ago, when I was in college, I had to decide a theme for my thesis. I majored in ceramic sculpture, and in order to graduate, I had to show a large body of work in the campus art gallery. I planned to make variations of abstracted heads I had worked on in the past, but my sculpture teacher suggested I experiment, since that was why I was in college in the first place.
One evening, I started to doodle. As my hand held the pen, I felt it move it across the page as if by its own volition. Specific shapes started to appear, none of which I had made before. I allowed this to continue, and several hours later, my notebook was filled with geometric symbols. I was in awe of this process, because for the first time I felt that these shapes had not come from my rational mind, nor had I seen them in books, they had come from deep within my imagination. As I later made them into clay sculptures for my exhibit, I felt that one day they would also appear in another medium.
By the time I turned 40, I had stopped making sculptures and was a full time jeweler. I loved my work, and would have never tried a different medium, had it not been for an large antique frame that I purchased for a mirror in my jewelry store. The frame had not fit the shop, so for months, it leaned against our living room bookshelf, and was always in our way. One day, my partner said, why don’t you hang it on the wall and make a painting? I agreed, because the frame alone would have looked sad, and I wanted to keep it.
As I sketched ideas, the symbols from college re-appeared. I quickly painted them on the wall, exited to see what they would look like in a large format. When I looked at the finished mural, I was in awe of how simple, yet powerful it was. Each symbol seemed to have multiple meanings, and the more I observed it, the more centered I felt. I knew that this was the door to my path as a painter.
The next day, my inner critics attacked with full force and I believed every word they said: you are not good enough, who will ever want this?, you will never be part of the art world, men are artists, not women, etc, etc. Discouraged, I soon stopped painting and continued to make jewelry.
To end a long story, I want to say that today, at the age of 44, I re-open the door to my path as a painter. I now believe that we are meant to do what we imagine and desire in our hearts. If we no longer pay attention to the excuses that stop us from doing what we love, we can open our minds to the possibilities that will allow it to happen.