Tuesday, April 30, 2013

True Confessions of an Artist

I have a confession to make....and I hope you aren't shocked by what I'm going to say...but the truth is I don't always know what the hell I'm doing.

There. That feels good to get off my chest.

You see, this internet world - the world of self-marketing and promoting - can be tricky. On the one hand I am selling a product, this is my career, and my income depends on you believing in that product enough to want to invest in it. It has to have some polish and all the pieces need to fit together in a way that is visually appealing.

And so I post the really good stuff. The finished product. The good news of the latest happenings. The places I'll be teaching, the books I'll be published in, the latest sale or the awesome things going on in my community or home.

And it all looks really good from the outside, when all you see are the highlights of a life online.

But on the other hand, I am a real person and, like most real people, I want to be known and seen and heard for who I really am. But who I really am is sometimes often messy. Sometimes I lack direction or the skill I need or the resources or even the motivation to do the things I want to do.

I sit down at my work table with a blank canvas, or my computer with a blank screen in front of me and I have no idea where to start. Sometimes I have a vague idea of what I want to do, but more often then not, I am just as blank as the screen.

And this is where many people get stuck. They think they have to know exactly what to do or how to do it before they can attempt the thing they find appealing. They think "if only I had gone to the right school, had more money, the right supplies, a brilliant idea or some sort of guarantee of the outcome, then I could start.

And looking at somebody else's life online can be a source of motivation, but it can, and often is, just another place to get stuck. "If only I had what she has, the skill, the money, the loving husband or family...then my life would be perfect, I could do all the things I ever wanted to do. I could take risks too if I had that life."

I used to do that, still do sometimes, but then I realized that all the "If only's" in the world weren't going to get me anywhere. I had to start with what I have available and work with the skills I do have.

So here I am. I just wanted to come clean with you today. I really don't know what the hell I am doing most of the time. I try and I fail. I get back up and I try something else and I fail again. And I try again and again and again until I finally succeed.

And that is the difference for me. One day I realized I was more afraid of what would happen if I didn't try, if I didn't write, if I didn't create, didn't apply for the show, or didn't ask to teach, then I was of saying I did risk it all but I failed.

True success isn't in the perfectly polished finished product or the filled up workshop, or the published article or book, or number of sales. No, true success is being able to show off the stack of rejection letters, the vacant seats, the pile of art that didn't turn out well and having the conviction to say "I will try again tomorrow".

" I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7


  1. Crystal, what an authentic and transparent work of art you've written here. Confession: I don't know what the hell I'm doing either!!! Keep being brave, keep being you. You are lighting the way for so many others!

  2. Thank you for posting this! As artists I think we are all often in the same boat. I have been in my studio, to work mind you, but really I'm just spinning around in circles overwhelmed with "where to start?" I will eventually figure it out and then begin.

  3. Crystal,
    The older I get, the more I understand that it's not about what I KNOW, but rather what I am LEARNING!
    I'm working on an art doll for an online shop. It's an engineering feat. I've taken it apart three times to make sure that it's going to be secure.
    No on knows how to do it right, because this exact creation has never been made before.
    I love the process..certainly it can go easier at times, but that just means I get to have 3 instead of 2 chocolates to medicate me;)
    Your work is great. Glad to hear your truth, which is like everyone else's...we are ALL figuring it out as we go along!
    So invigorating!
    Create on!
    Sorry, wrote this on my iPad and I can't scroll up to check for errors..eek!

  4. Deborah11:24 AM

    Thanks Crystal for putting the 'artists secret' out there so we dont feel like it only happens to us individually.

  5. WOW Crystal! GOOSEBUMPS to the max!!

    I loved what you said, I loved how you said it and I love that you were so honest! It was really encouraging to know that other artist's struggle with this too and as well as I feel I know you, you DO seem like you have it "all together"! I sometimes find myself thinking, "I should be more like Crystal....she has shows and is in galleries, she sends newsletters....she knows just what she's doing!"

    This was SUCH an encouragement to me!

    THANK YOU and I love you!

    Violette Noble

  6. you speak the truth...and it resonates with the artist soul...I don't always know either...but you are right...I keep trying...

  7. crystal...know that you are supported & prayed for allways. your transparency of life is a blessing to many. ;D

  8. Such a heartfelt and "real" post here Crystal. Thanks for having the courage to put your feelings into words and share with us all. I am sure there are many people out there who feel the same way.

  9. Crystal, thanks for your raw transparency, littered with such grace! This is exactly how I feel. I didn't go to a fine arts college, I often feel stuck...yet, I know God created me with this "talent" to create - and I have friends like you who cheer me on!
    I'm waiting for your online collage/encaustic workshop as I live in the NW! :)

  10. Or As Brene Brown says, Darely Greatly...Beauitiful Crystal. and love the work that's coming out from you past and present.

  11. Good for you, Crystal- you're human! I don't know why we expect so much more from ourselves; to keep trying is the best we can do. Trying and failing beats the hell out of doing nothing- I preach this to my students every day. You have the courage to "try and fail again and again", which is truly a gift. Blessings to you!