Tuesday, 1 June 2010

On my art ' career' and the passing of time ...

Here is my completed May page...

and here is June.

I made my first calendar in July last year, but didn't post them on my blog so I have nearly completed a whole year. These are more accurately a diary as they are a record of my days rather than a calendar of appointments etc. But I have found them useful to look back on - when was it I went to visit so and so etc? The June pages are in my new journal, my third since starting to keep an art journal about a year ago. The first one I filled up really quickly, the second has been going since last August. Most pages I have not 'published', they are usually of no real interest to anyone but me, or a bit too personal. However I have found the whole idea very liberating. I will share a few pages with you as I reminisce.
Journal page - January 2010 'Action is necessary' self motivation

When I first started keeping an art journal I was rather in the doldrums having retired from teaching, which I loved, but had in recent years drained me, I found myself in the position of wanting to do something creative, but did not know what to do. I was brought up to be full of self doubt. I also felt that although I knew I had a talent for drawing I did not have the passion or confidence or the know-how necessary to follow a career in some form of art. When I was fifteen - at a secondary modern school (11+ failure) I told the careers teacher I wanted to be a 'Window dresser' and I remember he laughed and said "Window CLEANER! - better stick to your shorthand and typing" I hated shorthand and studied hard and achieved enough qualifications to get into Teachers Training College. I did study art at college, but not at a high level as I was training to be a primary school teacher, and although I never stopped drawing everything went on hold. In the late 80's I went to watercolour evening classes with Gerald Kent Wood (now deceased) who changed my life. He taught traditional watercolour, which really was tinting pencil drawings. He had trained as an architect and produced wonderfully detailed drawings and had exhibited at the RA summer exhibition. He encouraged his students to submit work at the highest level and through his encouragement I had work exhibited in open exhibitions with The Society of Botanical Artists ('88), the Pastel Society ('88&'90) and the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours ('89) However at about this time the impact of the National Curriculum hit and my spare time vanished and I found it harder and harder to find enough time, not only to paint, but to take time to get up to London to submit work.

Journal page November '09 as a means of recording interests

That really put a stop to a lot of my art although I did manage to go to evening classes in Life drawing and was constantly encouraged by my friend Sally who is a practising artist. My 'artistic' life changed again when I began to study photography with the Open College of Art. When I gave up work, I had no excuse - I could do what I wanted, but all the old inhibitions came crowding back. I am sure it will take longer than a year to undo all the gremlins about worrying if my work is 'worthy', that I could be doing something more useful with my time and what am I going to do with it all? And what is it all for?

Journal May '10 'Nothing seems to work'

But I keep on telling myself I am doing it for myself, that I don't have to do anything 'with it' and above all I should just enjoy myself without inhibition or worrying about what anyone else thinks. It is still hard. But keeping a journal is a great outlet. Keeping a blog has also been liberating - meeting so many women who are on their own art journeys.

April into May '10 Journal page

I  hope I haven't lost you along the way of this rather long piece, everyone's comments are highly valued. I love to hear from the confident folk who don't give a 'feather or a fig' to what others think and I also love to hear from those who feel like me, still groping in the dark.   I am looking forward to another year of journal keeping and sharing my adventures with you. I hope you will be with me on the journey.
Jill

25 comments:

marigold jam said...

I wish I was one of those who "don't give a feather or a fig" but here's my comment as one of those who are "groping in the dark"!

I think your art work is amazing and you really shouldn't think it might not be worthy (whatever that means) or suffer such self doubt. As you say if it pleases you that is the main thing but I have to say it also pleases me and I am sure many others. I so often wish I had your talent and I have long wanted to join you in creating a journal but fear that mine wouldn't be "good enough" or that I don't actually have anything worth saying to write etc etc. Maybe I should take a leaf out of your book and just "do something"!

I am sure I am not alone in being impressed with your creative work your painting, journalling and photography are all of such a high standard - keep it up!

Jane x

Lizzie said...

Jill, I really do think your work is very "worthy"! I love coming to your blog - there is always something new, interesting and exciting to see. I love seeing your art journal - and have been inspired by you and a couple of others, to try my own; I enjoy your beautiful photographs, especially of natural subjects, such as flowers; I love to see what you can do with some fabric, stitching and a bit of paint - the stuff you make is wonderful and I am still so impressed with the book you made recently. I'd love to see some of the work you had in exhibitions - and clearly your work is good, or it wouldn't have been accepted.
Do go on with your art - it's so worthwhile and will give you happiness. None of us is "perfect" at anything, but you Are good at art and you obviously enjoy it. Just remember, please, to report back on your progress in your blog - I so love sharing it with you!

Liverpool Lou (Anne) said...

A wonderful post :) It's such a shame that some people end up with such feelings of failure. Your art is wonderful. Drawing and being able to paint is the one thing I would love to be able to do. People always say 'anyone can learn to draw and paint' but I believe you can learn techniques but to be good at it is like any other gift/talent that people are born with. Hopefully if enough people tell you your work is worthy eventually you'll come to believe it. After all you may not be as good as A or B but you may be so much better than C, D, E and F. Also it's a matter of taste; even if you were the greatest artist born, there would still be some who wouldn't like or understand what you do. It really doesn't have to have be useful at the end of the day. You've already done something so useful by teaching others; an absolutely vital need in society so you've earned the right to do what pleases you.
Anne x

Menopausal musing said...

Oh Jill, how I can empathise!!! I sooooo wanted to "do" art on leaving school but had portable typewriter bought by my parents as unfortunately I loved, and was good at shorthand....... My typing wasn't up to scratch though, as my mind rattled along on other things. (Bet you had guessed that anyway). I dabble in lots of areas and have the same self-doubts BUT blogging has been just so beneficial and is another area in which to release "things artistic". I for one adore looking at what you produce, in particular your photos! I think we all have areas in which we feel a lack of confidence. Mine is driving in the car, I am pathetic.

Joyce at Calico Paint said...

Thanks for sharing your journals and the thought process. I love the way you have experimented with different media and techniques. I've been going through a similar process since I retired from an office job and am now having the freedom to try out different art forms. I'm still trying to find my style and medium and have times when the creative feeling just isn't in me. Blogging has been so very helpful in learning that I'm not the only one experiencing the highs and lows of creating art. I am inspired every time I read your blog because there are so many facets to your art and talent. Thanks for sharing.

Sandra Hall said...

Jill I've had a lump in my throat as I read your story and then the above comments. I am so glad you pursued your passion, even though it took finishing work to nudge you into carrying on! We are all on a journey, just at different stages. (my blog address is pilgrim art!) I do really love visiting your blog because you are an artist in many things (photography, drawing, those lovely fabric items you make, these great journal pages) and you convery your passion on this blog, in your writings and by comments you leave on blogs you visit. I think you are a special person and would love to meet you in person one day. (Now I'm not a confident person and if ever we did meet I'd be in awe and very nervous beforehand!!)Funnies aside, you are one of my favourite blogs to visit. x x

WrightStuff said...

What an interesting post Jill, it's always such a pleasure visiting your blog - wonderful to see how your art career took shape. We're all grateful that you kept it up so we get to see the outputs and share in the stories.

I don't think I received a jot of useful careers advice when I was at school. I hope things are better now. I remember being shown a video on how to become a mastic asphalt spreader (they showed this to a class of girls in the top set - ie those who would probably go onto further education). My art teachers certainly never gave us any useful information on pursuing a career in this field.

flutterbycrafter said...

Your journals and art work are fantastic, such beautiful and awe inspiring work you do produce and share with us. I agree with everyone else your post is very interesting and I'm sure most of us feel the same way as you do. I didn't get any help from careers advice, in fact I left school at 14......can hardly believe that. I did go onto further education and held some good, interesting and well paid jobs, until eventually I owned by own company and employed lots of people. I am a big believer of the power of positive thinking, and have found it really does work, because, think about it, if you can't believe in yourself, no on else will. You art is beautiful and fantastic and you must believe that, always.

ju-north said...

Love the openness and vulnerability of your blog! Such encouragement to a lot of us who struggle with similar things but can't quite put it into words!

Leenie said...

I enjoyed reading your travels through learning. Your choices of studying teaching while putting art on the back burner sound very familiar. That's the direction I went, but I didn't even make it to full time teacher. By the time my kids were raised, both teaching and art had been put on the shelf. Now art is a hobby and I realize I've been using my teaching skills for years in many ways. I guess no learning is really wasted...it's how it is used.

webb said...

You are so FAR down the road! It's so encouraging to see what you have done in such a short time. Someone should kill that counselor. You have lots and lots of talent and I hope you will keep on working. Lots of places - good places - will want to exhibit your work. It's very up lifting.

thekathrynwheel said...

Wow, what a fab post - so honest. It's very interesting to read about the journey you have been on right since you were at school. It's funny, but doing an art journal has given me a reason to create and has released me from the feeling of 'what am I doing it for'. You have been such an inspiration to all of us on the diary / calendar challenge. Congratulations on completing a year but DO keep going! It's always wonderful to see the many different things you create from journaling, to watercolours to photography to embroidery and I always look out for your blog updates.
kate

Jee said...

Like so many my art ambitions were stifled - at Grammar school where art didn't happen after the second form, no matter how good you might be, if you were considered academically able to cope with second languages.
I think your work is more than worthy and you are producing things for your own satisfaction - more than I can say at present, but I hope to some time soon!

Paula said...

Jill you are very talented. I have been watching your blog for a while and I think your art work and your great spirit of experimentation is truly wonderful. There are many so called 'real' artists that I have talked to who have had the same experiences with negative comments in early life. They, like you and me have found that the art that is in our soul had to be expressed and that the joy that comes from making art cannot really be found in the same way from anything else. So for that reason, I think that whether we are 'good' at art or not we make it first and foremost for ourselves and if others love what we do that is just the cherry on top of the cupcake. Keep doing what you are doing. It is fab!

Judy Wise said...

I couldn't resist commenting as this was a very interesting post that made me think. My journaling goes back to childhood; having practiced it in many different ways and for such a long time I no longer care what others may think of it. We are each going to do it in a unique way and even that changes from year to year and certainly from decade to decade. It is a train of thought that goes on for a lifetime. It is revealing; over time we begin to grasp who we are under our labels. In that way I think it is a form of therapy. To witness our own lives and to live those lives as we choose. Your blog is beautiful but the real art is you yourself. Paula said much the same thing. At any rate, I love coming here and seeing what you are up to and I hope you are having a great time challenging yourself and watching yourself grow.

Maisey's Attic said...

Wow - just found your blog...your art work is amazing!! Look forward to following you - xxx

Anonymous said...

I read your blog almost daily,I find you very worthy and inspiring,so I thank you for that.On reading this post took me back to my educational years,I too was an 11+ failure,and did nothing more useful than going to work in the mill!!! In truth I hated it,and as I now see the opportunities non-academic children have think it's good to see "craft" as useful. You carry on with your amazing painting and photography,and thanks again for your inspiration. IreneXX

sea-blue-sky & abstracts said...

Have loved looking at your journal Jill and I also really like your lettering - which is an artwork in itself.

Mostly, we produce art because we gain something from the process, I feel and being pleased with the end result is like a sort of added bonus! There will always be someone who likes a particular piece, someone who doesn't and another who's indifferent. You have the means, the time and the drive to create and that's what you must do. Lesley

Jill said...

I am overwhelmed by your comments - and can only say a really heart felt thank you.

Printed Material said...

Jill,
What a wonderful response to your heart felt words. This does not surprise me in the slightest. Take them to heart because they are our genuine response to your very genuine feelings, expressed with such eloquence.You are a star my girl and let no-one make you believe otherwise. You inpsire me with the breadth of your creativity and interests and the day I found your blog was a red letter day. Keep going friend. We're all there with you. Lesley x

Amelia said...

there is something so touching about being raw, open and honest that really does reach out to others, and yet when we do it ourselves it can be so fear-inducing, or at least that's what I find.

You are right there is such a wonderful community of blogging women I have met since creating an on-line space to share and I thank you too for your honesty - it means as much as your kind and heartfelt comments :)

You do what you feel in your heart and by sharing you inspire and encourage and share with others what makes you you - and that is totally unique.

Thank you again, and please don't stop sharing and creating!

Amelia.x

harmony and rosie said...

I actually assumed you taught art before you were retired! I love popping into your blog to see how productive you've been, your illustrations and paintings are superb and you clearly have so much creativity going on inside your head. And as for your photography ... well I think you know what I think of that ...

What a foolish careers teacher to make such a ridiculous comment, if only these people realised the negative impact they made on young peoples' lives - it really is no wonder so many of us suffer from self-doubt. Fear not though Jill, what you are doing is inspirational so keep showing us more x

Traceyr said...

Hi Jill I do love your illustrations on your May pages they are so real and very humorous especially the cupboard tidying one!

I have recently got an art journal and have done no morethan to colour in one whole page - will pluck up the courage to actually write something soon.

Thanks for the inspiration. :)

Joy said...

Your work is WONDERFUL! So colorful, creative, fresh, imaginative, interesting, unique, fun, entertaining... you are a talented lady! Isn't that something what that teacher said to you--laughed at your ambitions and desire. I had a similar experience, and you know, comments like that can cause us to miss out on what we should have been! Adults should have more sense than to stiffle a youngster's ambitions. I would have loved to have been a window dresser myself, and I actually did get that chance when I worked at a retail store for 2 years. I have done my art just for my own pleasure, keep yours up--it is magnificent and inspiring! I will mark your blog and return to explore. Thank you for sharing your work and your thoughts.

Joy said...

P.S. I hated Shorthand also--rebelled against it and never learned it. Thank God, isn't it defunct now? But then, does it really matter as I'm not going to take shorthand at my age.