How I began to find my way as an artistBeing creative has not always been easy. There have been many times in my career where I have heard the phrase, “Oh it must be fun to make pretty things all day,” or “I would love to play with color all day.” I think some people think creatives, artists and designers are childlike tapping into our early days of playing with crayons. Maybe there is some truth to having that mindset of being carefree - going outside of the lines.
When I entered college, I didn’t have an idea of what I wanted to do. I struggled to find purpose and my identity. Once I declared a major of Mass Communications with an emphasis in Media Design, I had to also pick two minors. So, I decided to go with Psychology and Art. I wanted to understand how people think and I wanted to create. I never took art classes in high school, so walking into college level drawing classes were intimidating to me. I was surrounded by other students that could draw figuratively, expressively, abstractly and I stood at my easel with blank newsprint and charcoal in my hand. What did I get myself into? Immediately, I felt like I was an imposture. Luckily, my Drawing One teacher (wish I could remember his name) was patient and encouraging as I hesitantly made marks on the page as I squinted at the still life display lit with spotlights. I felt like I struggled at times during the course, but I also grew to love drawing and found myself always looking for light and shadows. I began to develop my own style and was hooked.
Making the emotional and subconscious connection with my art
As I progressed with my art classes, I had the pleasure of taking Drawing Two and Color Drawing from Tanya Tewell. She taught me to see color differently by seeing it in reflections and shadows. Suddenly I could see the depth of color. She also gave insight into the development of art as part of our psyche. Suddenly I began to see how creating art was not only a way for me to express, but also a way to heal. I began to embrace creating subconscious imagery and letting my mind flow freely and not have any expectations when creating those pieces.
After college, I worked as a Graphic Designer in the newspaper industry and corporate environments for 17 years. I always tried to carve time to create artwork therapeutically to stave off the burnout of working in the corporate world. I took some classes in digital painting with Corel Painter and learned Photography. After learning Corel Painter, I began painting more subconscious imagery and would get lost in creating these pieces. It became cathartic for me to paint without any expectation of what the finished piece would look like. Creating became an emotional release.
Those voices in my head – self criticism
Pursuing being an artist full time has been a far away dream. I at times have the “imposter syndrome.” I’ve had the thoughts of, “I’m not good enough,” “I need more training,” “I’m not at that level”. Over time, I have learned to embrace my own style and how it continues to evolve. I understand that I am always learning – and improving my work. My journey to get to where I am today has been long. Being a victim of domestic violence and losing my mother to ovarian cancer has often created shadows throughout the years but being able to create has helped me see the light.
A new adventure – looking forward to the future
Funny as I am writing this, ABBA’s “Take a Chance on Me” is playing. So, there is always uncertainty, but sometimes you must leap to see where you will go. I love creating and I will see where it goes. It may speak to some and not others. That is ok with me as I am creating to express and release. It is great if others enjoy my work – but it is not why I create.
Now, I have a loving and supportive husband and daughter who are my inspiration. Putting myself out here in the public sphere at times is a bit nerve wracking but also empowering at the same time. My work continues to evolve and expand. I currently create digital paintings that I sell as art prints.
Contact Emmy directly at Emmy@EmmySpoon.com