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Things I’m Afraid to Tell You: Confessions of an artist

May 3, 2012

Have any of you noticed that there is a trend among blogs? Everything is very happy, and beautiful, and perfect… I know this is not the intent at all, but sometimes it leaves me feeling inadequate. My house looks nothing like those houses, (even on a good day), I don’t claim to be a fashionista for a reason, and my artwork and diy attempts fall short way too often (Please say not everything in your life is always that perfect… and that I’m not the only one!)

I’ve been having one of those days with my paintings and designs. I normally love designing and can’t wait to start working on a painting! Creativity is so essential to my happiness and I feel so very, very blessed that I get to be an artist and designer day in and day out! It allows me to fulfill my dreams and stay home with my babies and watch them grow up (which is priceless to me.) Some days I think my paintings should be hanging in a museum (dream big, right?), but other days I wonder why I even bothered spending money on oil paints or a crazy nice computer. Today is one of those days. I’m just not having a good day (artistically). Seriously. I have been in a real artistic slump. I can’t paint, I can’t draw, I can’t mix colors, I can’t even envision where the painting is supposed to go.

This is actually more common than I would like to admit (see horrid photos I swore I would never put online). I’m an artist, but sometimes I’m the most un-artistic person I know.

Today, I’m going crazy and I want to cry, but I know eventually, I’ll get back in my groove and I know that pushing through this will make me a better artist and a better designer. There is something about working through that hard place that makes the easy, inspired times feel that much more wonderful. It is good for me to realize that I can do nothing on my own and that I fall short far to often. It brings me to a delicate broken place where I can find strength in myself, support from my loved ones, and most importantly, help, understanding, and inspiration from God.

So here is to creating better work tomorrow!

Blah! Now please go check out my portfolio site, EmilyJeffords.com, before you think I’m pretty much the worst artist on earth.

Btw, if this resonates with you, check out the many other blogs that have all joined together to “get real”, organized by Ez of the beautiful and genuine Creature Comforts. It’s a beautiful, refreshing, and encouraging collection.

xox,
Emily

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62 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2012 1:19 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Emily! I not a painter, so I don’t know how much weight this will hold, but I actually love the painting in the bottom left corner in that last collage. The colors of the clouds are gorgeous! How wonderful for you to be able to translate the world onto canvas so well. :)

    Like

    • May 3, 2012 2:01 pm

      Well thank you! I love hearing that. Isn’t it cool that art is something everyone sees differently. That’s the beauty of it!!

      Like

  2. May 3, 2012 1:19 pm

    Those are so not horrible. When I feel like that, I put down whatever project I’m working on and walk away from it for a while. Usually when I go back to it (a couple of days later or whatever), it’s either not nearly as bad as I thought it was or I can figure out how to fix it.

    Like

    • May 3, 2012 1:59 pm

      That is usually my rule too, but I’m working on a pretty tight deadline on this one. Push through and conquer!

      Like

  3. May 3, 2012 1:32 pm

    Everyone has days like that! I have had plenty, and no matter how bad you think something you made is, there will always be someone who appreciates it. I often give my “failures” away to my friends because for some reason they love them when I’m about to throw them in the trash. I really like those pictures you posted, even if they are your “bad” works. Here’s to a better tomorrow!

    Like

    • May 3, 2012 1:58 pm

      Thanks for your encouragement! And yes, friends are the best as are grandparents and parents who will “ooo and ahhh” over anything we do. ; )

      Like

  4. May 3, 2012 1:36 pm

    Are you reading my mind? Thank you for your courage!

    Like

  5. May 3, 2012 1:43 pm

    aw em….those aren’t that bad. don’t throw them away. save them for me if you’re going to toss them. seriously!!

    Like

  6. May 3, 2012 2:18 pm

    I completely understand. I seem to slowly slip into such a rut and when I get there, I read and I walk. Reading helps me visualize and walking helps me digest everything I have read and thought about. I’m definitely going to check out those blogs. Take care and good luck.

    Like

  7. wifeysinger permalink
    May 3, 2012 2:57 pm

    oh, emily. proud of you for sharing this, such an encouragement. and i think you are an awesome artist! xo

    Like

    • May 3, 2012 3:25 pm

      Aww. thank you so much! I actually already feel stronger and more artistic already! My husband is at the store right now buying more oil paint. ; )

      Like

  8. May 3, 2012 5:38 pm

    I LOVE THOSE PAINTINGS! Are you kidding me?!? Anything that I tried to paint like that would look TERRIBLE! I think the ones you posted on here are absolutely lovely. Maybe you should sell them as a way to let yourself have freedom from them. I am not an artist, but as a seamstress, I put intense pressure on myself for everything I make to turn out EXACTLY the way I envision it. When it doesn’t, I want to hide it so no one ever sees it, and if it happens to make it into the light of day, no one else can see the flaws that I do. We are our own worst enemies.

    Now sell me those paintings! :)

    Like

  9. May 3, 2012 7:52 pm

    I love those paintings, too! Especially the two on the bottom! Thanks so much for your courage here.

    Like

  10. Tom Currie permalink
    May 3, 2012 8:04 pm

    You are precious, Emily.
    Papa C

    Like

  11. May 3, 2012 8:37 pm

    as the daughter of a working artist(that would be someone who sold paintings for a living in order to put food on the table) i am all too familiar with your sentiment. what this usually means is ;
    1. lack of inspiration, or inability to focus do to distractions
    2. you may not have sold anything lately or someone gave you a less than complementary criticism when you were trying to sell them something.

    one thing i find in my own creative world( i am a photographer) is that i do like to be around people like myself, creative people, artists. not all the time, just sometimes. being involved in shows whether it is a collective gallery show with other artists or taking on a big project like a 2 person gallery show or even your first exclusive gallery showing. it gives you a goal to work towards and usually an artist works around a theme, but not always. however a theme could be a trip taken or portraits or some sort of social commentary . an idea that points you into a direction to get you thinking about exhibiting your work. that interaction is important for an artist because it keeps your mind in a creative mode of idea churning. 12 to 15 paintings would be a great goal to create a show. the best would be the brochure or the invitation for the show. find a space to create a show and market the heck out of it that’s where the blog will come in handy. joining a local art league also helps by putting you in touch with people who are in the habit of creating exhibitions. teaching can also bring in some much needed cash. find the local art league, it was one of the ways my father started his career.

    another good thing to do is to go to a museum or gallery show and look at the art of others. museum shows of master painters are important for every artist to experience. there are so many things to be learned from the master painters. if there is not a museum show that interests you or gallery exhibition , then i recommend buying a good quality art book, used or new of a master painter you admire. books spawn creativity, plain and simple.
    since i am a newbie blogger i hate to say it but i do think some of these perpetually happy bloggers are just fibbing with all of their bloggering about their happiness. in the advertising world they call that ‘puffing’. take it with a grain of salt. art is not about talking about yourself its about creating and producing art. As my father always said,”i let my work speak for itself”. if everyone is posting or what i like to call bloggering around the internet all the time, they dont have time to create art!

    growing up we always lived in a shack. not a real shack but we didnt have great or expensive furniture and a cool looking house. the house smelled like turpentine and linseed oil and sometimes it was in my clothes,and if we ran through the living room which was really my dad’s studio i would end up with a streak of cadmium red on my best t-shirt. the best part of my childhood home was my father’s paintings on the walls and his art book collection. all the nice stuff came later after my father was more established, but he never had the pleasure of living large so, art is a life style, its a choice and i would rather choose art over anything else in this world as a job. Van Gogh didnt have ANYTHING, he was forced to use his old shoes as subject matter or onions and sold only one painting in his life time, i think his brother theo bought it. I know your house looks better than mine!!!hahahahaha!!!

    now i think i should take some of my own advice and start my own projects too!! dont worry and to this shall pass…;-)
    vanessa

    Like

    • May 3, 2012 9:43 pm

      Vanessa, thank you so much for your experienced feed back!! I love each of these ideas.and very much approximate your words of wisdom. I’m looking forward to a week of rest and relaxation (and gallery hopping, beach wslking, soul searching, and sketching) all next week! We’re heading off on a much needed vacation. I can’t wait to see how this time away inspire and encourage me as an artist!

      Thank you!
      Emily

      Like

      • May 4, 2012 1:11 am

        the beach is such a wonderful place!!! the water crashing against the sand actually produces negative ions which in turn make people positive! so you will be inspired! BTW the girls are gorgeous love all the photos of them!have a great vacation ;-)

        Like

  12. May 3, 2012 8:46 pm

    I love those horrible paintings and I consider myself not an artist but I do love to make art. When I started painting I always told my family and I still do, not to lie to me when they comment on my artwork. So one day I got brave and started my blog I could not believe outsiders liked my artwork. So sometimes we have to step back from what we create and let others see what we are creating. It may not look good to us because of how we feel at that moment but it may take on a whole different feeling to someone else. Keep up the work and don’t get discouraged.Paint away,God Bless You.

    Like

  13. May 3, 2012 10:28 pm

    I paint. I love to paint and draw. I would love for that to be my bad day. As an artist, I think that sometimes artists have a vision of what they want and, when their work doesn’t live up to that expectation, they fail to see the beauty of their creations. Those paintings are stunning. I suggest that you put them away for a few days or weeks and then come back to them. You’ve got a wonderful sense of color and composition. Know that these aren’t as bad as you think they are but really quite wonderful.

    Like

  14. emilyjpeck permalink
    May 3, 2012 10:35 pm

    Finally getting a chance to hop around on today’s posts – thanks so much for sharing, I think your artwork is beautiful! :)

    Like

  15. May 4, 2012 4:32 am

    I think your work is gorgeous, I’m glad I came to visit your blog.

    I find that my work is always entwined with my emotions and sometimes that helps me but most of the time it doesn’t. You’ll ride this out don’t worry.

    I’m off to explore your work more :)

    Like

  16. May 4, 2012 7:52 am

    Being an artist is hard…crawl-under-the-covers-hide-from-the-world hard sometimes. And while I think your paintings above are beautiful (those colors, the textures, those clouds!) I understand what it’s like to only see the shortcomings in the art you create. Just stick with it and keep painting…you’re so talented it would be a shame if you didn’t :)

    Like

    • May 4, 2012 9:22 am

      Thank you Lori! I’m looking forward to a week off and time to recharge… Then painting! Even though it is hard at times, there are few things in life I enjoy more. Thank you for your kind words!

      Like

  17. May 4, 2012 8:17 am

    You have to have painting your not proud of to get to the ones you love. At least your painting. Just making the time and focus is a big enough challenge!! Thanks for the transparency.

    Like

  18. penniesformirrors permalink
    May 4, 2012 10:56 am

    I follow Erin @ Design For Mankind, which is how I ended up here. I’ll be back, for sure!

    Like

  19. Cherie permalink
    May 4, 2012 3:18 pm

    Do you remember the time that you, Dan, Mom and I were out doing some “watercolor”? Um, I hope you don’t, but I know I will never forget it. I only wish I could paint one of your “ugly” ones!

    Like

  20. Amanda Fuller | kaleidoscope permalink
    May 6, 2012 12:38 am

    Hi Emily, I have stumbled across here from Ez’s blog. I just wanted to say thank you for opening yourself up to us and being brave enough to let us in on your fears. Being a creative person too, I understand how rewarding, frustrating, perplexing and complex the creative process is. Know that yoga re not alone in feeling like you are the most uncreative person around. If fact I just wrote about something every similar in my post response to Ez’s challenge. You can read it here if you like: http://www.amandafullerblog.com/2012/05/things-im-afraid-to-tell-you.html

    Like

  21. May 6, 2012 2:13 pm

    I may not be as artistic as you, haha, but I totally get what you mean :( The creative juices just won’t flow! But you’ve created fantastic works, and the ones you’re not quite pride of still looks amazing to me :D Probably just an artist’s block, right?

    Like

  22. May 9, 2012 4:59 am

    Everything’s so beautiful! I get what you feel as an artist. I’m still staring to be one and after seeing these, I feel so inspired! Thanks for sharing! <3

    Like

    • May 14, 2012 10:37 am

      I’m glad I could help! ;) Just keep trying, just keep working. It will come together eventually! I’m glad you’re feeling inspired!! Take that energy and run with it!

      Like

  23. May 21, 2012 8:57 pm

    oh yes…such courage

    ~simply

    Like

    • June 21, 2012 2:45 pm

      I like the painting on the bottom right : )

      I found this blog by way of Creature Comforts ( and this reality sort of project ) being mentioned in a blog article on New Domesticity.

      A am very new to blogging so I didn’t learn to be perfect yet and now I find that it’s ok and becoming the style ha ha : )

      If you would like a laugh just visit my crazy bird’s nest post http://www.thehomespun.com/you-call-this-a-birds-nest/

      Like

  24. Nats permalink
    July 23, 2012 10:57 am

    Thanks for your honesty, I thought I was alone in feeling that way. The times when you can’t draw, paint or dream up, well, pretty much anything, really take it’s toll and it’s good to know that it happens to the best of us :) btw I think those paintings are fantastic – you should quiet your inner critic.

    Like

  25. December 31, 2012 5:41 pm

    What a great feeling to know I am not alone. It has nothing to do with the results, but with the process.

    Like

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