Fear of Being an Artist
My first ramblings on about artist life, there will be more I'm sure. Please feel free to comment, like and share :)
I’ve always been a creative person since I can remember. As a little girl sitting down in church I would make tiny little books from any paper that I could get my hands on. I remember once getting into trouble for tearing coloured paper into hundreds of tiny pieces all because I wanted there to be more of it, it didn’t cross my mind that I was making a ridiculous amount of mess in the aisle. I just loved paper. I was always drawing or doing something with my hands. I was interested in doing anything that you could do with your hands. I loved baking cakes with my grandmother and helping my grandad who was a mechanic and carpenter with his home projects. I remember the first sewing kit that my grandmother bought me after I told her I wanted to learn how to sew. I really wanted to try making my own clothes. Although my grandmother wasn’t a seamstress, she encouraged my interest and I became somehow, I suppose self-taught around the age of 9/10 really good at sewing by hand. I had even designed and made quite an interesting skater skirt completely by hand, it was made from panels of a peach coloured fabric and had matching patterned triangles sewn in between each panel so it would be flared. I later went on to secondary school where I learnt how to use an actual sewing machine. A while later I was given an old Jones sewing machine that had belonged to my aunt.
At secondary school art was of course my favourite subject and with the encouragement of my parents and fine critiquing from my dad I became pretty good with using pencils. I remember getting an A* on an artist study of Georgia O’Keefe’s ‘Two Calla Lilies on Pink’ I had recreated in pencil. I miss that piece.
Later I went to college and did A level art. I won’t say I regret doing it. It really was an experience, thinking about it in hindsight I would have probably chosen a BTEC in art knowing what I knew after I completed my A levels and the poor results I got. I didn’t get along with my art teacher at the time. I really felt that he was trying to stifle my creativity. I didn’t like being put into a box. His lessons always seemed so rigid to me. Especially with figure painting, I think the problem was that I just wanted to do everything in my own style whereas he wanted us the class to do it in the style of his preference, whatever that was. I appreciate the work of the masters and all that but why do I need to copy when I’ve got my own ideas I want to try? I remember doing a figure drawing for my degree show piece. It was of the male form from the back lying down on the side and me being me who is generally not interested in shades of brown painted the entire piece in monotone blue. Everyone in the class loved it except for the teacher of course and I got a ‘D’.
With my poor A level results but a pretty amazing portfolio I managed to get into Ravenswood college of Art and Design. It was an amazing year. Not just because of the art but because I met so many people in and around college and work at that time from such wide range of backgrounds, I feel that it helped me to develop a lot mentally as a person. The more people that you meet from different cultures the more you can really learn to appreciate the differences while also realising how much in common human beings have regardless of those differences. I don’t think I ever had a fear of people but being around so many cultures I think made me realise my love and admiration of people from different walks of life. I also felt like I learnt a lot from listening to their life experiences.
I did a lot of experimental artwork in art college, it suited me down to a T. I was thinking at that time I wish I had done it sooner. I was encouraged to spread my wings and just do what I wanted. Flex my creative muscle. I remember one of my teachers there taking a look at some work that Id done and saying: ‘Textile designer’ and I looked at him with raised eyebrows and was like: ‘yh right, I don’t think so’. At the time my idea of a textile designer (even though I kinda fancied myself as a fashion designer, kind of) was pretty boring. Obviously, I knew nothing because years later I did go on to design a range of digital print fabrics and I loved it. Regardless of what anyone said I just knew that I was an artist, would always be an artist and just wanted to be… an artist.
So, university days came and they were great too. I had a lot going on in my personal life, I had recently become a Muslim, I got married and not even halfway through my first year I got pregnant with my daughter. It was a really hectic year, but I picked up some very valuable printmaking and book making skills that really have shaped a lot of my art practice. My life at uni was pretty much those two things; relief printmaking from lino and bookmaking. I just fell in love with cutting large pieces of lino, soooo therapeutic, I didn’t care how long it took, the whole process really was a pleasure to me and those big old print presses sure were good for a workout. Printing was like what I imagine being arm day at the gym with a little bit of lats and abs thrown in, definitely my kind of art process!
My final year I changed things up a bit when I got inspired by a story in the Quran which talks about the glass palace of Prophet Sulayman. Wow, I thought, I wanna make something like that. Or at least as close as I can. That’s when ‘The Greenhouse’ was born: 64 panels of hand engraved glass. I’d never done any glass engraving before then and of course it wasn’t a problem because I went on YouTube, watched a couple of videos so I could find out which tools I needed and then I just learnt how to do it myself. No problem. Degree showpiece done. 😊
After uni I was privileged to take part in a few small joint exhibits and I even intended to go to uni to do a masters in glass actually. However due to extenuating circumstances like getting divorced and becoming a single parent of two (drama) that kinda got put on the back burner and eventually left outside to freeze.
Still creating art at home, printmaking out of my kitchen, nothing like what I produced at uni of course just some small stuff.
Mixing ideas of glass engraving and print making; printing and engraving or carving on all sorts of objects and furniture around the home.
Over the past few years I’ve tried to focus a little more on developing my painting skills and style as I find it quite accessible working with paints at home. It’s funny when people come to my house for the first time and they’re like: wow! Its like an art gallery in here. And it basically is, my whole house is art, but I assume of course that every artist lives like that in some way. I’m probably wrong. I don’t have a separate studio outside of home, so my home is my studio. And to be honest with you even if I do get a studio in the future, I still think that it wouldn’t make a difference to my ‘art gallery’ house. I’m so used to making things at home, it’s just how I relax. Even if I’ve been out all day working I still feel the need to either draw or paint something.
I’ve done a variety of jobs to earn a living; cleaning, waitressing, tailoring, private tutoring, painting and decorating… and now arting???
As a child I always just wanted to be an artist. As an adult nothing has changed except that with adulthood comes fear. When you have responsibilities and people relying on you or expecting certain things from you, there’s a fear. Actually not a fear but multiple fears: fear of being misunderstood because you don’t care about being different and going against the norm, fear of not fitting into what may be socially perceived as what an artist is or looks like, fear of not being able to make a living from my work as an artist and therefore not being seen as somebody who does have a job and works, fear of being put into a box and categorised because of how I look and what I do, fear of showing vulnerability and it being perceived as needy, fear of making art that nobody likes so they won’t buy it, fear of wasting time, fear of being an artist.