Okay, I’m just gonna come out and say it, any artist who works in pen and ink is insane…okay, maybe not insane but definitely a different breed. Pen and ink is an unforgiving medium. Once you lay down that first stroke, that’s it. There’s no erasing. You can try adding more ink to blend the stroke in but if it doesn’t look right you have to face the inevitable…starting over. It happens. It’s an unfortunate part that comes with the territory of being a pen and ink artist and we all encounter it at some point. The longer you work in the medium you learn ways and techniques to cover up mishaps but sometimes there’s no saving a drawing and I’m quickly learning I may be more prone to these mishaps working in color compared to just black ink. There’s just no covering up when two colors don’t work together. So I had to start over from scratch with my first drawing. Thank goodness for lightboxes which allowed for an easy transfer otherwise this series might have went from three pieces to two. I think this time I got the color worked out better. I guess sometimes it is better the second time around.
I don’t have children. Early on in my teens I realized that the path of parenthood carried a responsibility I felt I would never be able to live up to. Through the years people were certain that I would change my mind. I’m 43 now, I think I’m a bit past changing my mind. I can’t say I know what it’s like to birth a little being from my flesh and then put my heart and soul into nurturing it to maturity. But in a small way I know what it feels like to nurture life, to create and the highs and lows it brings. I have a small garden that I tend to every year with my husband where we rejoice in the fruits of our efforts come Fall but we also sulk in our disappointments when seeds don’t bare fruit or when unexpected frosts, droughts, endless rains, blight, bugs and other hungry creatures destroy crops. I’ve raised a little kitten to old age who now despite her spry nature, struggles with kidney cancer and I am left to watch in quiet sadness as she slowly declines where there is nothing more that I can do then to do my best to keep her comfortable as possible until her inevitable end, which I’m hoping is long off.
And I create art.
To the non artist, art may not seem to be on par with giving birth to a child. There’s no physical pain, food cravings or hormonal changes that one goes through when creating art but there is a birth, there’s a process of bringing something to life. When an artist creates art, they are giving birth to a piece of their soul. They are giving birth to a vision, an idea, to a way in which they see the world. They capture that vision in their mind and then struggle through the internal pains of getting that vision from thought, from immaterial, out on canvas or paper, into a material existence. It can be a trying labor with risks. Sometimes the vision dies before ever reaching the canvas. Sometimes it goes through numerous changes. Sometimes once it’s out the end result isn’t quite what one had hoped for. But in those moments where the work turns out just as the artist had imagined, the soul celebrates and rejoices. Sometimes as an artist you’re even surprised. You step back, looking at what you have just created and think “Did that really just come from me?”. You can’t believe it. You may even think it was some kind of fluke, where doubt subtly creeps in as to whether you could pull off something like that again but for the moment your happiness over rides the worry and you bask in the amazement of your soul’s creation. In those moments you immediately bond with your work. You see yourself reflecting back at you from the canvas and maybe it sounds a bit narcissistic, but sometimes you just fall in love with your own creation and you entertain the thought of never letting it go.
Unfortunately an artist has to eat.
If you’re fortunate enough to be an artist who has found a peaceful balance between having a day job that’s outside of your artistic endeavors and pursuing your creativity on the side, you may never have to experience the pain of having to let go. You can create for fun if you like or sell pieces you are truly proud of at your own discretion. But every artist who ventures to make a living from their work goes through the process of letting go and sometimes it’s not easy.
Up until recently I’ve been pretty okay with sending my pieces off to their new owners. I do have moments where I wonder if they are being treated well, have they been framed, are they somewhere where they can be seen and does the new owner truly enjoy their presence? But for the most part I’m happy that someone liked my work enough to want to own a piece which helps for me to eat and pay bills.
Then someone came calling for “Voodoufairy”.
In hindsight I probably shouldn’t have let her go. Every once in a while I’ll keep a piece for myself and she was one I probably should have kept. When I posted her I was so proud. She was the first in a series of colored portraits that I’m currently working on. It was my first attempt at doing portraits and from my perspective, it turned out great. I was amazed at the success of my first attempt while equally worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it again, hence my desire to do a series to try to prove to myself it wasn’t a fluke.
I didn’t realize my level of attachment to this particular piece until I got ready to ship her off. I felt a pain inside I don’t usually feel. A piece of me was leaving home. A piece that I had truly poured into that drawing. A lot of things came together while working on her; a new direction of working in color, more confidence in my skills, a willingness to step out from my usual use of black and white, an open admission of my love for wanting to create beautiful things and a desire to buck the trend of trying to do large works when my heart prefers to work on the smaller side. A vision came together with that piece that has now made a new home in Wisconsin. I didn’t realize it was going to hurt this bad. She’s been gone for three weeks and since then I’ve felt this small tear in my heart that I’m trying to mend with the third drawing of the series. I hope Voodoufairy is in a place where she is treated well and that her new owner is enjoying a little bit of my vision of beauty.