WHY I BECAME AN ARTIST- Part 3
So, let's wrap this up. After my love affair with the beauty of Colorado had gone on for a year or so, my love affair with Dave Lewis started and we were married in the snowy, gray month of April. I'm going to leave a humongous gap here between our vows & having our first child – a gap when I was the staff artist for an international relief organization, a sign painter, and a free-lance graphic designer. There was a little moving around involved, but we eventually ended up back in Colorado, which felt like home to both of us.
And then came Baby. And then came Staying at Home With Baby While Husband Was Off Working. You get the picture. I still had my college art supplies, and one day, probably after changing a dozen diapers and cleaning milk and spit up off my clothes for the fourth time, I pulled out my cheapo student-grade watercolor supplies & started messing around.And it was fun! And freeing! And easy! It was like free therapy!
Although I was still trying to add to the family budget by painting signs (remember, this was pre-stick-on letters), designing logos for small businesses, and doing small sign and mural jobs for Young Life's camps, I was finding joy in playing with my watercolors. Besides, I had a baby's room to create art for, which felt like a Purpose.
So painting became an increasingly critical part of most days while little Kirsti napped. I also used my charcoal, conte crayons, chalk, & calligraphy pens at our little kitchen table to stay brushed up on my drawing and lettering skills. During these years, as we added more wonderful babies to our family with Reuben and Haven, I created some really, really mediocre art (some of which is probably still in a portfolio in the basement and will never see the light of day but be destroyed right after I finish this.) But I was learning.
I was learning about how water interacts with different kinds and qualities of watercolor paper, how certain pigments stain the paper while others are fugitive and don't want to do what they're told. I was learning that, while good brushes were certainly lovely, they weren't necessary to a good painting, and that I could even paint with pieces of corrugated cardboard or pretty much anything with an interesting texture. Most days brought me outdoors with kiddos in tow to take pictures, look at colors, gather grasses or twigs to take home, and see the world with fresh, though sleep-deprived, eyes. It was a marvelous time to be an artist, a mommy, and alive.
For the sake of brevity, though that train has obviously left the station, just know that the next years brought with them deep fulfillment as well as artistic frustration, a tribe of creatives to walk the journey with, and the unwavering support of an amazing husband. I had no idea at the time how important that support would be over the next decades, and it took me years to fully appreciate it. Let me give you a little window into the creative soul, and you may find yourself identifying with some of this.
Artists often feel like they exist on the outskirts of the rest of the world.
We're hard to get, hard to pin down, and sometimes hard to put up with.
I admit it. And that can feel lonely. So having a spouse or friend who's willing to risk wading into the mess with us just because they want to see into our soul is astounding and freeing. We can be exposed without fear of judgment. We can offer the very best we have knowing that, at least for one person, it will be enough
And that brings me to what I've discovered over the past two years – artistic community. I have now been blessed to be part of two groups of beautiful creative souls who choose to build up, support, affirm, correct, and touch each other's lives. This has been nothing short of astounding! Through Art Biz Coaching with Alyson Stanfield in 2017 and Created To Thrive Mentoring with Matt Tommey in 2018, I have found not only a community of kindred spirits, but coaching that has enabled me to touch many more lives with my art, my words, and my heart. And that's why I'm here now writing this.
Let's circle back to the very beginning for a minute, to that little girl who loved to draw and who found that expressing for others the beauty that she saw in the world was her calling and purpose. Along the way came self-awareness, the ability to love herself, the courage to try new and risky techniques, the complete admiration of a wonderful man, and the thing that wraps it all up – communities of loving and kind creatives that let me be authentic and value me all the more for my frailties. I am a blessed woman. This is my tribe, and I would love for you to become part of it through connection with me. Thanks for hanging in there till the end!