Artists Who Inspire Me

In my first post, I mentioned I have wanted to be an artist since my teens. It was during that time while at high school I was exposed to artists in Trinidad and Tobago who subconsciously had a profound impact on this desire. I’ve been drawn to portraits and capturing realism in my work because of them and their ability to capture the beauty and gracefulness of their subjects so effortlessly. Their use of colour and the sheer sizes of each piece amazed me and it was only after a visit to an art gallery last week and seeing one of their works, that feeling of being awestruck came rushing back.

It was amazing seeing the work of the persons who first influenced me again. Like a sort of déjà vu and quiet recognition that I was on the path I was always meant to be on. It also made me remember that now I could add some of their prints to my art collection! So without any further rambling, here are some of the major artists from Trinidad and Tobago whose work inspired amd co tinues to inspire me the most – Karen Sylvester; Michel-Jean Cazabon; Boscoe Holder and Harry Bryden

What do you think of my sources of inspiration and who inspires you?

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Art School vs. Self Taught

In my introductory post on this blog, I mentioned that it was always my dream to go to art school and due to circumstances beyond my control at the age of 16, I didn’t get that opportunity. Over the years I have toyed with the idea, still thinking even back then, that I was too old (HA! in my 20’s), that I should give it up and also that the financial outlay was way too expensive! In my currency, the cost of art schools in the US can get me a substantial down-payment on a house!

But now that I have made the commitment to take my art more seriously, and I am also at a point in my life where my day job does not satisfy me except to provide me with the monetary means to afford art supplies; the thought has emerged again. Do I want to even venture into the formal world of school again after just completing my MBA last year? What was the point of me doing my MBA even though it was on scholarship if I’m back to square 1? How can I justify such a huge expense when I am older and certain other achievement markers have still not been realised – like a family, house and a career I love (the catch 22 of this is quite obvious to me)?

And so I started looking at Art Schools, at articles about self-taught artist and things I could consider, the successful artists who made I despite being self taught and also about why you shouldn’t go to Art School. In the end my heart yearns for knowing and exploring what could have been. While my brain is saying you’ve got this! You’re talented, you just need to dedicate the time and have the discipline to be where you want to be despite being self taught. The articles I came across, also helped make that seem more of a reality.

At the end of the day I would love to come back to this post in a year; my decision having been made and I look back on this happy. Happy because whatever the avenue I chose to be successful based on my definition of success it was the right one.

Have you gone to art school, are considering it or just plain don’t believe in it? If so what did you ultimately do and how did you decide? If you are self taught, how was your journey? If you plan to be self taught, what have you learnt thus far?

And so it Begins…

Thanks for joining me! This is gonna be kinda long but hope you stick it through…it’s been more than a decade in the making!

So you know the usual artist story….they’ve been drawing since they could remember. I was the same; except I stopped. I tried my best to become normal, kill that desire thinking to myself, oh you won’t be the next big thing, give it up… something regular…and so I tried, for over a decade. There were bursts of creativity that tried to overpower my outer need to kill my dream, and they succeeded briefly – but I stifled them again for the last four years.  And, now here I am.

It’s so odd…my life that is…the thought patterns that frequent my mind space, the actions that are actually executed and the regrets that spiral into a world of worry. When did I become like this? My worst nightmare….being one of those persons that speaks but never follows through on something they said they’d do?  SIGH…..I am truly my own worst enemy!

From my high school days I was convinced that my life was destined to be that of a successful and multi-faceted artist….to 16 years later with a dwindling, slowly dying dream that resurrects itself every couple of months or years with these visions of my success, being spurred by a new creative idea or simply being visually inspired by the work and success of someone else. With the proverbial hindsight being 20/20 as it usually is, I can’t help but wonder where I would have been if I were allowed to follow my dream after high school.

I collected the various Art School prospectus, the world was my perceived oyster. I perused schools in France, the US and UK, excited with each one that was mailed to me. But it only opened me up to something that I thought I was going to do but had that dream denied by fearful parents who wanted the best for me and not have their only daughter pining away on street corners or living at home unemployed as such is the perceived life of an artist – dying to create…but with no paying audience willing to pay for and appreciate her efforts.

The quest to defy was in me when I started university, and I was insistent on doing a  double degree…one degree to satisfy my parents….the other myself…I mean it wasn’t the country or school I wanted it to be but it would have sufficed since I wasn’t financially calling the shots….only to be told I’d have to spend an extra year in school which would have added another year to their loan – a definite no-no. That was the first time I turned my back on art…wanted nothing to do with those who were allowed to live their dream….seeing them as lucky, privileged, destined to succeed and I began to place my art dreams in the memory file of no return.

Over time though, the fire wouldn’t die. It tore through me at times spurring me to do random things to make moves to get my dream back on track…random classes, a trip to Canada, online courses, an Associate’s Degree in Graphic Design and self-taught study. It’s weird that the feeling to be creative doesn’t want to let me go…..I used to feel cursed for wanting to be who I wanted to….and with ‘friends’ that didn’t understand and made it seem like a unrealistic and lofty dream lovingly advised that I should start being realistic with my choices…..I forced myself to become what I termed ‘normal’…don’t think about art…….just don’t……what and where could it actually get you?

But it doesn’t want to die….creativity is a part of me and I am coming to terms with that.  I also know I don’t want to die with the regret of not exploring who I’m meant to truly be. A part of me feels like exploring and living this artistic life is actually one of the secret doors that I must unlock where my ultimate happiness lies….career, social life, even a happy relationship. Which brings the million dollar question, if I know subconsciously practically everything I want is waiting for me behind Door #1…..why can’t I start????? Why do I get frightened and run away leaving that door in an abyss blocked by fear and uncertainty?

There’s this book I found ‘Art and Fear’ it’s speaks to a lot of the reasons why I haven’t made major moves to pursue this dream….it explains the blank canvases, the unopened paints and pastels, the unused clay and other materials that were bought with an idea in mind but the overpowering existence of fear of not being able to execute, which left them unused and bare.

How strange is this feeling to create when burdened by fear of your vision not coming out the way you saw it in your mind’s eye? How odd is it when you’re also afraid of your possible success and being in the spotlight as a result? Now I get why some artists are tortured souls…..the thin line to create or not to create or living with the consequences of not doing so really do drive you up a wall…….the problem is how do I create despite these fears and an unending desire to be a successful creative?

With all this in mind, these quotes ignited this renewed drive:

  1.   I should create despite the outcome.
  2.   If I never start, I will never know how successful I could be.
  3.   No one’s opinion should really matter…this is just something I have to do for me.
  4.   The other side of fear could reveal something really beautiful.
  5.   Other people’s success should not intimidate me but serve as a lesson to inspire into my own life.
  6.   There are only 2 options: make progress, or make excuses.
  7.   I want to be an example for my future kids and my future self.

And most importantly…”You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great” – Les Brown

And with those words, so we begin…

Art is when you hear a knocking from your soul and you answer. — Terri Guillemets