The Cartography Of An Artist



I was around six or seven years old when my step mother at the time was zipping up my winter jacket.  For some reason I had told her that I planned to go to art college one day--and as she pulled that zipper right up to the edge of my chin, she looked me in the eye and said "I doubt it.  You ain't ever going anywhere."

I remember that exactly.

But what I remember more was the way I felt full of rage--and how instantly I began to form a map in my young mind of how I would go to college and prove this bitch wrong.

Yeah, that's exactly what I thought.

I remember that, more than her hurtful, mindless words.

And guess what--I did go to "art college".  I graduated with not one--but two degrees in Painting and Art History--and later I even went back and got my Art Education License.

Heck, I even went on to create a self-sustainable lifestyle supporting myself completely as an Artist.

How about that?

The truth is, she wasn't the only person in my history that shun my desire to be an Artist--and that moment in my winter jacket wasn't the only time a real obstacle was presented in my path.

My life as an Artist has been full of doubts, detours, and major distractions.

People have been mean, unsupportive, and have shared with me worlds of fear.  People who many time have my best interest at heart.

But I am where I am today because I chose not to believe them and instead follow my calling.

I meet so many women online that tell me their stories.  I hear about the terrible Art teachers, the unsupportive parents, the cynical spouses and those random strangers who shared with them some horrible truths that made them doubt, disheartened, and change their point of view.

The story is always the same--the years lost and a heavy sense of regret.

But what they don't see is that they are no different than me.  No different than any Artist that has ever walked this land.

There are no yellow brick roads to becoming an Artist.  Each of us has our battles to attend.

And all those years you keep carrying around labeled as "lost" and those buckets of  broken dreams you keep behind your bed--they are simply weighing you down from living the life you truly were intended.

It doesn't matter that you start believing in yourself at six, thirty-five, or eighty two years old.  What matters is that you finally draw those maps in your head.

That you finally let go of the rage.

And instead answer the calling that you've been hearing again and again.

30 comments:

cath c said...

sounds like you and i share a parented history.

i think it is these obstacles that can really make us even better artists and writers, as they make us more sensitive to the rest of humanity, too.

Some awesome chick said...

Yes, thank you for this. <3 <3 <3

amber said...

I'm 37 and I'm finally picking up that bucket of dreams behind the bed and dumping it out, cause it time to live them. Your posts lately have been spot on with what I'm about to embark on. I keep telling my husband "Connie did it, so can I!" And he agrees! Cause its scary and lots of folks have told me it can't be done, that living as an artist means starving and struggling. And I tell them the same, I'm tired of struggling, I want to live and I believe that following my artist heart will allow that because the day job and how I'm living now certainly isn't! I'm still scared, but by God, scared or not, I'm saddling up and riding anyway. And I have people like you to thank for showing me what following your heart and courage can lead to. :)

Anonymous said...

I just love it when I come across amazing people who have refused to listen and gone on to live their best lives. I'm 46 and only just awakening. My 'stuckness' wasn't cos of doubters, it was because I lost my mum at 8 and I could not face or deal with it. Well 38 years later and I'm stepping up to it and going to have the life I never knew I wanted. I'm answering my calling and letting go of the fear. I wish you love, peace, happiness and success.
Jayne : )

Steph said...

What a wonderful post. I LOVE the idea of a map to reach our dreams - I might have to play with that. Thank you. : )

Iris said...

Add RACE AGE & MARITAL STATUS to the mix and you run across even more obstacles to living one's dream. I get inspiration, though, from people who found a way to do it - "it" being living their authentic life - and I remain hopeful that I can to.

Alisha said...

It's good for me to hear that your life as an artist hasn't been without obstacles. I think it's easy for people (myself) to assume that it's been easy and everything you do works out perfectly...because what you've created today.

Kristin Dudish said...

This is a wonderfully brave post and I know that I am glad you started charting your course at such a young age - You have touched many lives and the world is a better place because of it.

xo
Kristin

Dale Anne Potter said...

GREAT POST Connie!
For me it was the school teachers - all of them. I wasted so many years thinking I was nothing.
What is past is past - I'm living in the NOW and NO ONE can stop me now except ME!
You are AWESOME!!!

mariska eyck said...

Thank you for your post, Connie! You knowit's not easy to be an artist or to become one. But, I think we're born to be artists, so not being or becoming an artist is probably worse.
Greetings, Mariska

morningDove said...

so true to let go of anything that's holding you back - heck just let go. i am so glad you are where you are bc i have enjoyed every minute spent with you and all the other artists online.

laurie said...

i am so touched by this post because i am a step-mother and i try so very very hard not to fall into the "evil" category (or even get close!) we owe every child the gift of high expectations and endless possibilities. i'm so glad you were strong enough to follow your own map.

faerian said...

Bless little Connie who is still hearing those words reverberate AND YAY for Big Connie who set them aside and went for her truth regardless - look at how much you have given the world because you had the GUTS to look past her words and into your own magnificence - you have changed the world miss c because you didn't listen to that misguided expression of how she saw herself and now you will have a little shufflin peice of magic to undo that wound with <3 heroines work you are doing Ms Connilicious <3

Robin said...

Those are the experiences that can make us so strong and yet strangely vulnerable. Its funny because some times when I struggle too paint its because I feel so vulnerable putting anything down! Great post Connie.

Phyllis said...

Hey, I HEAR you....I am 66 years old, and just started art journaling 2 years ago! I couldn't even draw stick figures, but I, even I, have made far more progress than I ever thought possible.....we cannot listen to the negatives....only the positives. And if we never do anything that what brings OURSELVES joy, then so what?! That is enough....

Jane said...

Thank you for being amazing, and real, and inspirational ~ thank you for showing up, and teaching us how to be brave. <3 Jane

Creatively yours Fi said...

Awesome Post!!! Yes that nagging calling is very persistent & so are the inner doubts...waging their inner battle. Just what I needed to read :) THANKYOU xX

Sarah May said...

This is a fabulous post....I get so mad when I hear stories of art dreams being squashed....cheers to you for listening to your soul and to your determination! As an art teacher to middle schoolers as well as an artist myself, I aim to give a love, appreciation and knowledge of the powers of art. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

Emma said...

I just burst in to tears reading this. Thank you so much for writing your story and for sharing that it is possible to follow ones dreams and not let those who discourage you stand in the way of your dreams

Teresa said...

OMG what a frickin good message! I heard you loud and clear.

parsnips by lucinda myer said...

Here, Here, couldn't have said it better myself! Right on Sister! :-)

Barbra @ CollageIdeas said...

A very poignant story Connie. That was a very cruel thing that your stepmother said to you. I can't imagine. So glad for you - and for everyone you have inspired with your wonderful art, teaching and spirit - that you didn't take it to heart.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I love what you have written. I have been SO affected by the negativity of others that I have not moved forward fast enough with my art. Thanks for the insight!

Jana said...

I have experienced exactly the same. I had a teacher who thought I was stupid. One day he says to me that I would never make my high school. My mother dahcte similar. She did not know I was studying. I originally wanted to study design. But I failed the entrance exam. Instead, I studied geography, where I found my love for photography. Today I work as a freelance photographer and editor. I love my job. But the road is rocky. But whenever I think I can do it not, then I see my teacher and my mother before me. As they laugh, because I did not make it. Then again I have courage and strength and want to show them that I can.

C M Rawlins said...

What an inspiration!!!! Thank you for this beautiful post. Amazing.

Big Hugs, from another Connie :)

Ann Marie said...

Good stuff! Great post!

Jen Norton said...

So glad you found your way to art! And who knows...maybe you wouldn't have worked so hard to get there if she hadn't made you so mad.

leel said...

i just needed to say thank you for writing this. i just found it now, today, and i can't help but believe i was meant to read it now. wow. thank you connie. thank you for sharing this. thank you, thank you. you are amazing. xo

keeley

ashley:) said...

Thanks for sharing this I am just now reading it. I've know since a early age I want to be an artist but my mother encourage me different! Luckily I've come to a place in my life after traveling many roads that I can focus on my artwork!

Anonymous said...

Connie, Thank you so much for being here. I "found" you at such a timely moment in my life. I am 52 years of age and finally able to say, "I am!"