Going into the summer, I felt worthless as an artist. I was burnt-out on making things and having them just stack up in my studio, taking up space and suffocating my creativity. I was getting sick of painting things no one seemed to want to purchase. Somehow, I let my fire go out.
February through May, I consistently made the choice to avoid sitting down in front of my easel. Boxes, old shirts, empty cans of sparkling water (my drug of choice), and all kinds of random things began to make their home in the corners of the studio. It was like I knew I didn't want to be in there, so I made it less comfortable.
In my teens and twenties, I didn't have this problem; I just made work I felt was satisfying in some way. I did it because it was fun and made me feel like I was giving something back to the universe. Youthful-20-something Angela created art to share, and if she sold something, it was just an added perk. She wanted to paint meaningful subject matter and pour her bleeding heart out into the world.
So, by the end of May, I was considering throwing in the towel on art. I had one commitment I had to honor, a three-month show in the Garfield Park Arts Center. After that, I was going to burn my collection of work in an angry bonfire while softly humming Fleetwood Mac's Rumors album. Okay, maybe not but ultimately, I was just going to try to get through the summer show and let my art take a back-seat in my life.
And then it all started to turn around. I made sales in my art show. shocking. More than I was anticipating. I was contacted about an opportunity that....I can't tell you guys about until sometime in December, but it was a wonderful experience AND it paid.
In addition to this financial success, I scrounged for some extra cash and went to my local money-hole: Michaels, to purchase some brand-new materials. A type of paint I'd never used before: Gouache. It's pronounced like "Gwash" (Rhymes with squash). This might have been the smartest decision I made all summer.
Let me tell you, I love this stuff. Painting with it has been like opening a door that I didn't even know about. The process is so fun and quick. I feel good painting with it, and even better with the end result. It re-lit the little flame in my heart for creating. As they say, boo-yah.
Not only that but you guys, Your interest in my work and continued encouragement keeps me going. Being an artist is not a simple/straight forward thing. I didn't just graduate from college and go to the art company for an art job with impressive benefits and a 401k. I can't trade a painting for an appointment to my gynecologist. I have to carve my own path in this world, and it can be burdensome and discouraging. Knowing I bring even a smidgeon of joy to your lives can sometimes be enough motivation to start on a new project.
(I cuss in the next part of this blog...sorry Mom).
Of course, I miss the days of college when I made shitty paintings I thought would be my "magnum opus," late into the night, while sipping latte's and listening to the Sleigh Bells with Melinda. I felt like I was so unique (bahahahaha!).
Art just came so easy back then. I don't know if it was the "blessing" of taking studio classes, and the regularity of the time I spent in the art building, or what...It's funny how memory works. I know I experienced anguish, heartbreak, and frustration just as I do now, but my heart only clings to the good times, and feeling like I was basically the best artist to ever live.
I miss feeling like God's gift to the art world. I laugh to myself writing that, but I was naïve and so full of bubbling potential I was convinced I could be the most celebrated artist on the planet...if I could just find an "in" or make it into a juried show. Hell, I guess it could still happen. I'm not dead...but it's also no longer my dream. Or perhaps, Critical Acclaim just isn't as important to me now.
I don't go around telling people I'm the reincarnation of Michaelangelo (just because my name is Angela Michele)...and yes. I used to do that, jokingly, but yes I did that. Cringe away.
My dream now, is to just be me. I will paint because it feels right. It makes me feel good.
So the good news is, I'm reinvigorated to create. I'm ready to pick up my brushes and make some new work for you. I'm reaching inside of me to find that young, hopeful, lil' artist gal and get excited again. Here's to that *clinks invisible glass*
Btw, I turned 30. GASP. So I guess my youth is gone. Long ago are the days of zero injuries, and skin-elasticity. Woe is me! Woe is me! *Cries into pillow*
Angela DeCamp is an Indianapolis based artist. who enjoys the finer things in life: black coffee, carnival tickets, the sound high heels make when they clickty-clack on the sidewalk.