Monday, March 28, 2011

an artist journey: questions about where to begin

What do you do when you want to start on your artistic crafty path? How do you begin?

I was talking to my husband the other day and our conversation prompted the following reminder and realization:

Starting out is not only daunting, difficult. And the more you're overwhelmed with information, the more confusing it gets.

For example, the other day my husband wanted to make me a birthday card. He wanted to display his artsy prowess, wowing (and wooing) me with his fine creative endeavours. But when he sat down to actually construct the card (you know, something more than folded paper), he felt totally overwhelmed by the choices and ended up giving up and buying me a card instead.

And it reminded me of how overwhelming it all was to me when I started scrapbooking. Honestly. I'm still overwhelmed by scrapbooking most of the time! Most of the time I still feel like a lost little girl, playing with paint and never daring to think about all of the options, for fear of breaking down into tears and insecurity. Yup, it's true. The internet, for all it's glory, can be pretty dang overwhelming, inspiring, humbling, and just plain ole too much!

Some days I just wanted someone to give me a formula, a place to start that was concrete and manageable. Looking back, I'm not quite sure how I found my way here but I do know that it was a bit of a rough journey at times. The one thing that gave me any focus was the fact that I was crafting for my wedding at the time. And then I was trying to scrapbook my wedding. And then just crafting in general.

Along the way I learned more about what I like and am as an artist through my artistic fails. Here's what I do know:

  • I'm not a knitter. I can knit. But I can't finish projects. Nope, no sirree. Not gonna happen cause I just don't have the self discipline to knit for weeks or even months. I have crafting ADD, don't even think about asking me to do something that will take that much focused attention cause it just ain't gonna get done! I'm always going to be the person who buys her knitted goods!
  • I am not a fan of the cutesy. Cutesy stamps and stickers make me roll my eyes. It's fine if you like 'em. That's great. All the power to you. But don't send that stuff my way! I don't have any nieces to pass it on to and my nephews are more interested in cars and dinosaurs! Now, if you want to talk about geometric shapes...
  • I can't draw a life like apple, face, or whatever, if my life depended on it. It's lovely that people say they like my art. But I know my limits and that's one of them. Maybe years of art courses would make it possible, but as of today, well.... On the other hand, if you have clear lines, I can probably copy it. I'm an excellent copier! And that's ok... because I can still be an artist and creative person in spite of my inability to draw life like objects and I can copy until I learn to make it my own.   
And then, well I discovered art journaling. And it's been a love affair that has helped me find my artistic voice more and more. Don't get me wrong. I'm still learning what my creative style is. I don't have a set style yet. But I'm getting closer. And it only took me about 2 years! [insert long sigh]

I'm learning that I am a clean page scrapbooker. I love layered, shabby chic pages but hate the way my photos look on said pages. And well, I just never really know where to draw the line. And my art journal pages are more rewarding when they are layered and textured more than when they are full of images (for me). But there are countless skills that I still need to learn and may alter my thinking.

So I was wondering, where did you all begin? Especially those of you with no formal training. What words of advice would you give to people starting out, looking to find their creative voice? 



  1. I looked on you tube and came across a wonderful whimsy artist called Suzi Blu. I took a couple of her online classes and I have learnt so much from her. I taught myself on mixed media by just getting a few supplies I liked and experimenting. I would take inspiration from magazines cutting out pictures that inspired me and keeping them in a folder. The net is a great place to image search and find free inspiration. Most art shops online have galleries you can look at to see what is being done with their products. Hugs Sara

  2. I can totally relate to artist ADD. I for one seem to hop from one project to another, never staying to long on one thing, it seems I get bored quickly. It takes me a long time to get a drawing done simply because of this. LOL

    I never had any formal training, but people always ask if I "went to school" to do what I do. I just would roll my eyes, Schhool? for learning how to draw? ha! I was always under the impression that either you could or you couldnt, and if you couldnt, practice was the best thing. After all thats how I learned, many a night spent in my bedroom drawing countless pictures of my horses. They were my muses at that time.

    But now being older and wiser, I have come to realize that artists, (and any artists here) have many talents. You Aradia draw what inspires you, you dont need to draw "lifelike" to be a great artist, you just have to be you.

    And also as an artist, you will always be your toughest critic hun, I know I am, I still dont have but one picture that i drew hanging on my wall at home, because to me, they werent good enough to do so...funny right? LOL

  3. you have written my story. :)
    I procrastinate too much and then nothing gets done. I haven't created in this years journal for at least a month. !!

  4. @Sara... going to have to look up SuziBlu. Excellent ideas... the internet is always a great source of inspiration

    @witchesbrew... thanks for the kind words. I know we can be our worst critics. I wasn't trying to be self critical though, just illustrate the point that anyone can venture down the path. I've watched too many great artists walk away from art because of self criticism. I just want people to see weakness as part of the journey and not a limitation

    @miss*R... no worries. I too am a big procrastinator (which is why many of these journal pages only get posted at the very last minute....) Having an audience though, makes for some great motivation!!

  5. I agree that we can be to selfcritical. It can throw road blocks in our path. I have always wanted to be an Artist. I think I verbalized it to myself in fourth grade.
    I can not not do art/create. It calls me. If I haven't made something, drawn something,painted ,colored, glued, hammered etc. something in several days, I get antsy...sorta like someone who takes drugsand is having withdrawal.
    I look at art making as if it's tapping into Spirit and becoming a conduit for and of creative energy.
    I didn't mean to ramble on so. I think if you use any type of material to create something you are an artist.

    Paulette/Sage Moon

  6. @Paulette: I agree with you. If you create, you're an artist, regardless of what you use/create. However, I think we tend to get too caught up in the ideas of good and bad, which can be destructive ways to think about creativity. Not all art is going to be a great masterpiece, but all art is a great process of self reflection.

    And as for the artist withdrawal... I agree. But the funny thing is, I was living in a state of withdrawal for years without even knowing it. Now I can't imagine ever going back to a life without creating/creativity on a regular basis.

  7. I think finding a book at the library or bookstore is a good first step. There are a lot of how to books about creative pursuits that might be appealing and there are several that have several beginner's projects to start off with. Also, in person classes at a local scrapbook or art store are great as well. Often they have creative projects like altered books or using photos on a canvas, etc. at these shops. I also think that your astrological sign plays a role in the creativity when you first start off. Some signs I think are more apt to try anything new and others are too scared for fear of it not being just right. I went through scrapbooking, jewelry, altered books, altered collage art, and a few other things before I found I liked mixed media art and painting.

  8. Hmmm, I'd never thought about how your sign might play into your approach to learning art. It's an intriguing idea and food for thought....


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