This post is by Luann Udell, regular contributing author for FineArtViews. She's blogged since 2002 about the business side--and the spiritual inside--of art. She says, "I share my experiences so you won't have to make ALL the same mistakes I did...." For ten years, Luann also wrote a column ("Craft Matters") for The Crafts Report magazine (a monthly business resource for the crafts professional) where she explored the funnier side of her life in craft. She's a double-juried member of the prestigious League of New Hampshire Craftsmen (fiber & art jewelry). Her work has appeared in books, magazines, and newspapers across the country and she is a published writer.
We may not be ‘used to’ digging so deep. But the gold you find there is worth it!
(5 minute read)
Last week’s article about knowing our creation story sounded simple. But I’m guessing from some of the questions I received privately that most of us don’t find it that easy.
When I work in person with someone, it’s easier. There are questions I can ask, hints in people’s responses I can follow, and body language that tell me I’m getting close. And when people get to their truth, it’s powerful to hear, and see. Their stance gets ‘brave’: They stand/sit taller, their voice deepens, their words are simple, straightforward, and powerful. And often, there are tears. From both of us!
Unfortunately, before people get there, it can be very hard. For me, and for them.
Some people get annoyed. Or angry. Or they shut down, or push back: “I dunno. I dunno. I DON’T KNOW!!! Why do you keep asking me that??!!” (“That” is usually the word “why”, and I’ve written about it for years on my blog and on Fine Art Views (along with other authors.)
I’ve written about five drafts of this article in the last few weeks, and get overwhelmed with everything I want to say. So instead, for those of you who truly want to find your story, today I am assigning you homework. THREE homework assignments, actually:
Check out this article on what makes each one of us special: 10 Things That Make A Person Unique And Different
Read carefully, and think of how you would respond to each of the aspects given.
Next, invest $5 on a copy of Kaleel Jamison’s book, The Nibble Theory and The Kernel of Power. The link actually goes to the best bookfinding tool on the internet called (surprise!) Bookfinder.com.
This book will take you less than an hour to read, but it can be a life-changer. It was for me. The first section is understanding why some people always try to take us down by ‘nibbling’ away at us until we are not a threat to them anymore.
The second section, finding our Kernel of Power, can help you dig deeper into what makes you YOU. Take your time in reading this part, and think carefully about the questions. (Also note that Jamison says how our tears come with our truth.)
Third, this homework assignment is more creative. Remember that meme that went around on Facebook, 25 Random Things About Me, where we were asked to create a list of ‘things’ most people would not otherwise know about us? (Yes, I did it, and it led to another blog post. Of course!) (And also ‘of course’, I did an entire series of articles on how 25 Random Things can help us write a stronger artist statement.)
Last, there is an unspoken element in all these assignments:
The power of our choices.
Mine came when I realized I didn’t have to be “good enough”. I simply had to make the work of my heart. It was the beginning of everything with my art.
Many people say there was no ‘turning point’ or creation story with their art. They never ‘chose’ their art career. They always knew they were creative, and simply followed that path.
If that’s the case for you, then those three exercises may give you clarity. Because ‘just following a path’ still entails many, many tiny choices along the way.
I’ve written about this process—finding our central truth, our creation story--many times. I wish I could do it in person with each of you who are still searching. I also realize, I’m a writer. I constantly write my way to my truth. (To all of you who have signed up for my newsletter or subscribe to my blog, that’s why you get emails every week instead of once a month! Can’t apologize anymore, it’s part of who I am!)
I shut myself in my studio that day I wrote my artist statement. I was frustrated many times, but would not let myself leave until it was done. And I knew when it was done.
I know there’s still nuance in it. Most people call it a poem, and I agree. I elaborate on it once people, visitors, collectors, let me know they want to talk about it with me.
But it still resonates, and it still speaks my truth: I am here, now. I am only here for a short time on this planet. I want to have my voice in this world. Writing and making little plastic horses is part of that voice.
Yep, I'm a little obsessed with my horses. Because they represent the start--and heart--of everything I am today.
I found that looking for humanity’s roots in ancient times gave me hope that we can all do better at being a good, compassionate, generous, creative human being. Including me. Again: The power of our choices.
There are many other ways I am unique. Like loving melted ice cream. Like not liking watermelon. Like taking up martial arts and my art in my ‘40’s, dyeing my hair for the first time in my ‘50’s and sitting with the dying in my ‘60’s.
All of these are choices.
You’ve made choices all along the way, too.
Think about them. Do the homework. Let me know if you have questions. I’ll do my best to answer them.
On one hand, no, none of this will be on the test. (There is no test.)
On the other hand, you already have all the right answers. They’ve been there all along.
Let them out. Let them breathe. Let them shine. Just like YOU.
If you enjoyed this article and know someone who might enjoy it, please feel free to forward this to them.
If you received this from someone, and liked it, you can subscribe to more artists' views at the Fine Art Views blog.
And if you'd like to read more of my stuff, you can subscribe to my blog at LuannUdell.wordpress.com.
NEWSLETTERS 101 #1: Tips and Tricks to Help You Connect
NEWSLETTERS 101 #2: It's Okay to Talk about Yourself!
NEWSLETTERS 101 #4: Know Your Creation Story
NEWSLETTERS 101 Tip #3: Introverts, This Is Your Moment!