Braving the fears of doing what you love.

Back in College I had several art professors who were really instrumental in the course of finding out what I want to say with my work. Those professors made a huge difference in how I viewed and valued technique, colour, and my own process. Where before I sat rigid at an easel and worrying that it wasn’t the right fit for me, with them I learned that while easels are important for stability, they don’t make or break a painting. While fretting about not enough light to work with my paint mixing, they taught me to use variations of light and still feel out the colours I wanted.  “You won’t always have great lighting, and you won’t have the materials you want when you want them, at times. Learn to use your instincts in creating what you want without relying on the constantly changing elements around you.”

It made sense. I get inspired randomly. I won’t always have a palette and some brushes. Sometimes I won’t even have a sketchbook or notepad. I learned how to create mock-ups using receipts. I adjusted to noting down details verbally, as precisely as possible, in order to recreate it later on. I grabbed onto texture and kept it in my skin, to remember later what mediums I wanted to use. These are all aspects of being an artist. There’s no easy way to embrace the slightly flightier things we love. Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of a $200 canvas, or specific paper. Neither did a lot of artists who defined what we now consider classics. They made do.

For a really long time after College, I kept paint and canvases at arms length. They are seriously expensive and I felt they were an unnecessary luxury for me to have, so I just stuck to sketchbooks. I doodled on and off, many times my doodles were pointless notes of how I wanted real life things to look. Then a few weeks ago, I got struck with this intense urge to paint two 6 foot paintings. Christmas is coming up and I had these perfect paintings in my head for two of our friends, and I just started to sketch the idea out. When I’d finished noting everything I wanted to do to the painting, on the sketch, I called Chris over and asked him what he thought. He liked what I’d done and when I told him my idea for making them larger than life, he was so supportive and on board.

We got to the supply store and I spotted the canvases I wanted, behind another huge one. Again, I asked him if he was sure. He likes to do this thing where he pokes fun at me when I double and triple check if somethings okay with him and all I could think was “I haven’t done this in 10 years. How can you have that much faith in what I’m about to do?” but he does.

If you don’t have the funds to do things you love doing, or things that keep you sane, it can really tear at your spirit. I’ve been there. Now, I have an awesomely supportive husband who encourages my wacky ideas but I still keep in mind how quickly art supplies can mount to thousands of dollars. But sometimes, as long as you’re responsible about it, it’s necessary to do what makes you you. If you hold yourself back from going all out with something all of the time, you’re eventually going to wither or snap. Neither one of those is healthy.

I can’t show or even say what these paintings are of, since it’s so specific it might give away who they are for, but as soon as they are unveiled by the people receiving them, I’ll share. Which kind of brings me to another fear I’ve encountered before. Rejection. I don’t think our friends would ever reject the pieces made with love for them, but the outer public can have a cruel disposition. It’s understandable that when you cosplay, paint, sing, or do anything creative you are likely to encounter some pretty vicious people and while their opinions may hurt (or scald, even) it is important to remember that you gave it your all and that before you let their words or even stares hurt you, you have to ask yourself “Would they have given as much of their time and energy to this as I have? Would they do it with as much passion and drive? Would they have even imagined it?” and shrug them off. It’s hard, but if it helps, do a physical shrug. Shrug that negativity right off your shoulders and move on to anyone who may have positive questions, healthy suggestions, or just feels like being in your light.

I intend to go happy crazy with these pieces and hopefully they’ll be enjoyed. If not, that’s okay too, I could probably find some use for them somewhere. The intention was there and that’s what counts.

I can’t wait to show you guys what I’ve come up with, but to keep you busy until I do, please check out all of these other artists works:

Jon Pinto  – Has worked with Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Six Flags, Ron Jon Surf Shops, Americrown, M&M’s, and more.

Brian Kesinger – Tea Girls, octo-victorian art that celebrates beauty, cephalopods and a dash of geekiness.

Karen Hallion –  Licensed artist for Marvel, Lucas Arts, Hasbro, and Cartoon Network.

The Sinking World Exhibit – How the ocean can contribute to the imagination in realistic ways.