Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Artist PlayDate: Meet a Magnificent Artist Whose Tremendous Heart and One, Simple Phrase, "So What?" Allow Her to Shine

The first time Laura, creator of Sleeplessimagination, submitted to the Thursday Sweet Treat I was moved and deeply inspired by the vibrant colors and emotion within her work. I wanted more so I re-visited her shop and then found my way to her blog where I fell in love with her writing. Laura's artwork and her writing have a raw honesty that reaches out and pulls me in. It invites me to sit for awhile and think - really think - about life, art, beauty, passion, fear, awe and all the other things that give life that little spark. Her work hums; it's like a song in the back of your head that you carry with you all day long and never tire of listening to or the tree pictured below that keeps giving long after the day is done.

Recently, I had an opportunity to talk with Laura about her biggest insecurity as an artist, one I think all of us deal with or have dealt with at one time or another. What I found was that true joy, passion and fun - the kind we are lucky to have as children and even luckier if we can hold tight and not lose as adults - can defeat any demons. Furthermore, remembering to be thankful for the ability to create will allow you to wake each day with no shortage of artistic ideas.

Now, it is my great pleasure to share Laura's response to the question,
"What is your biggest insecurity about being an artist and how do you combat it?"

“I don’t consider myself an artist”. How many times have I seen those words appear in interviews with artists in the newspaper, magazine articles or on the front page of Etsy? I am amazed to see these incredibly talented, creative people make wonderful works of art and have successful businesses selling their wares yet they deny themselves the title of “Artist”. Truthfully, I’m not comfortable with the title either. I’m somewhat pleased when someone refers to me as an artist, but “Artist” just doesn’t quite fit. It’s like the little girl who dresses up in her mom’s high heels and makeup; she’s practicing what she wants to be but the shoes are still too big for her.

When Natasha asked me if I would be interested in writing for the Artist Play Date, she asked me to address my biggest insecurity about being an artist and how I combat it. I would have to say my biggest insecurity about being an “artist” is that someone, at any time, will figure out that I’m not really an artist. Like the "Emperor Who Has No Clothes", I’m just waiting for some smart-mouth kid to yell “she’s no artist! She’s got nuthin’!” Sometimes I feel I’m just one criticism away from boxing up all of my art supplies and selling them in a yard sale, because this is just a lie. After all, doesn’t a real artist have a large studio tucked away in the middle of nowhere, with huge windows overlooking the forest or mountains (or ocean or some other inspirational, breathtaking view)? Doesn’t a real artist take time to sit on her front porch, drinking green tea, contemplating the complexities of life, while her 5 cats nap peacefully on and around her?

I have loved doing art for as long as I can remember. In junior high and high school, I made sure there was an art class in my schedule every semester. I spent many hours in my room writing bad poetry and drawing colorful pictures. In college I only took a couple of art classes which I usually skipped. After college, I just tucked away most desires to do anything artistic. I always told myself that I would someday go back to college to get an art degree. That was before I knew how busy life gets and how demanding working, paying bills and other real world grown up things can be. Each year brought on new responsibilities and new interests until creating things didn’t seem at all practical to me.

In 2002 my son was born and 2 ½ years later I had a baby girl. As my son got older, he wanted me to make things for him. He would come up with the wildest ideas-many involved robots, dinosaurs, astronauts, etc.- and I found the more I made for him, the quicker I could come up with my own ideas. I liked making things for him because he didn’t have high expectations and I wasn’t too uptight about the end result. I became increasingly interested in creating and one day, my friend mentioned Etsy. In October 2007, I began selling some of my art online.

In the past 18 months, I’ve had some really fun opportunities regarding my creative endeavors. I’ve already surpassed any hopes and dreams I’ve ever had about my own art and yet things keep happening that allow me to continue. I’ve produced more art in this period of time than I have in my entire life combined. A friend asked me the other day what has triggered this new creative productivity and I’m just not sure. Maybe it’s because I’m in my mid 40’s and have to admit I’m middle aged. Maybe I don’t want to waste energy the second half of my life, denying myself the joy of creating something just for the purpose of enjoying the process. Maybe it’s the only way I know how to have something that belongs to me alone and isn’t connected to anyone or anything else that is defining who I am. Only God knows for sure.

What I do know, is that I’ve battled the little voice with the big mouth in my head for most of my life. I’m working on not giving her as much power as she has had in the past. If she says, “Wow Laura, what if this is the last idea you ever have?” Or “You know, don’t you, that this is all just a fluke and there are many people much more talented than you?” Instead of letting the negative energy guide me, I allow myself to calmly think, “Yeh, there are many, many people who are more creative than I am and it is possible I will never again have a creative idea. So what?” Really. So what? I’ve had so much fun and met so many great people because of this creative outlet. I am thankful and feel so blessed.

The thing is, with every new opportunity, I feel more confident and more energized, which makes me open myself up for more opportunities, (such as writing for the Artist Play Date). Ultimately, I believe the Creator of the Universe placed in many people, the desire and need to make things. I believe if that passion is in your soul, it is your job to do it, even if there is fear, insecurity and doubt. It’s nice to have people compliment what I make, but it is not the reason I make things. I do art because it is what my soul craves. Art helps me relax, it helps me connect with others, it gives me joy and makes me appreciate the world around me. It also gives me an excuse to spend lots of time and money at Hobby Lobby and to collect “treasures” I might make something with someday.

A few years ago, I was looking through an Oprah Magazine and ran across this quote by Vincent Van Gogh: “If you hear a voice within you saying, ‘You are not a painter,’ then by all means paint…and that voice will be silenced.” Words to live by, don’t you think?

For more of Laura's work, please visit her shop and her blog

Laura, thank you for all that you create. You inspire many more than you will ever know. Keep dreaming, creating, writing and sharing!!


Rowena said...

What a great interview, again, Natasha.

I don't think it's a coincidence that all these mothers are finding the courage to do things that they were always afraid of before. I think being a mother makes you braver. And I think being a mother and watching your kids explore their creativity reminds you of your own.

Thanks for sharing this Laura.

Eileen said...

thanks for sharing such an inspiring post...laura is an amazing artist...hearts and follows from me...

Beth said...

Laura, you are one of the most inspirational artists I have ever encountered. Yes, I said artist :)

It is an honor and privilege to call you friend.

Natasha said...

Rowena - thank YOU so much...wasn't this a great interview? I am in complete agreement with you...I think being a Mom makes you even more brave and kids just let us come to life again...creativity reborn..Laura's children gave her the gift of creativity back...thanks kids!The world needs her art!

Eileen - what a wonderful comment...hearts and follows...I love that...Laura inspired me and it's amazing to see her inspiring others

Beth - welcome and might I say you are an incredible friend to Laura...what a phenomenal comment...I'm so moved right now

Frenzy23 said...

I've really enjoyed reading your blog because of these posts. It's so nice to get to know an artist and really talk, and I see few bloggers who really do that.
I strongly agree with trying to hold onto those feelings we all had as kids. (I'm studying early childhood education, so perhaps I'm biased :) ) But I see art that children come up with, and sometimes I wonder if they're more genius than most adults could ever be. We grow up and gain a self conscious quality, we hold back and worry about what people think. I hope Laura soon becomes comfortable with being called an artist, she's a wonderful one, and I think it would only help her amazing work!

PS-I love that quote at the end. Then again, I prize being defiant :)

Frenzy23 said...

er-I don't know if I made the connection like I meant to. I meant to say kids know the sky is the limit, they don't have "reason" to give them boundries, and tend to consider themselves whatever they want to be, like an artist. We put so much responsibility on the term, like they have to be genius, brilliant, when really, an artist is just someone who creates. There are a lot of artists out there to consider brilliant, but we shouldn't be afraid to label ourselves as such :)

Mics AKA Lunatiger said...

Very cool! Love your interviews...I think they're very inspiration reads!

Sherry said...

Wow Natasha....I got goose bumps when I read what Laura said about this being a fluke. I've heard that same voice in my head many times, followed by..."Now what are you going to do next? This was a fluke and they will soon know that you're not as good as they thought."
So, I've been there, Laura. I understand what you're talking about. I just didn't know that someone else was feeling the same way. Thanks for your article!!Sherry

Laura Pugh said...

Wow! Thanks for the comments everyone. I really appreciated the opportunity to write for the blog and I've had so much fun participating in the Thursday challenges. Thanks again!

P.S. almost made me cry! Of course, since you know me, you know that isn't so hard to do! :)

Natasha said...

Frenzy23 - brilliant..that's what I think of what you said and I TOTALLY get what you are saying "grown-ups" (now there is something I thought I wanted to be once and then thought better of it hehehe) we do limit ourselves...we lack the wisdom of the child who realizes exactly what you said...the sky is the limit

Mics AKA Lunatiger - thank you so much....thank you for being here, for reading, for sharing...I have to tell you though Laura made it easy she was filled with inspiration :)

Aww Sherry- like Laura and many of the folks who have commented don't have to worry...we all know you are beautiful artists!! The only thing others will discover is how with each piece your talent grows :) But it is nice to know others out there struggle with the same demons.

Laura - thank YOU for having the courage to've touched more lives than you know :)

You all amaze me

aquamaureen said...

Does ANYbody know from whence comes this incredible self-doubt? Seems that if we could ever get to the root, we might be able to eliminate it for good. We all seem to be challenged by the nasty little voices--when we can see beauty in every body else's work, but often discount our own. Why do we judge at all? Why can't we just, oh so lovingly, say: I made this. This is my creation. And that automatically makes it beautiful.

I'm gonna work on hugging all I produce (argh--I heard myself say, "Well, maybe not ALL"). No!! Begone, mean thought!!! I WILL hug, and love, all I produce!!!!!

Thank you, Laura, for making me think some more on this.

SalvagedExpression said...

I see that theme again and again, the idea that most of the limitations we see in the world are actually only in our minds.
Feels like the opener to some book, "She resolved to do 3 impossible things each day before breakfast." I'm pretty sure I could crochet something about that eh? ;)

Soap Scent-sations said...

Laura is a DOLL! and I haven't known her very long! Great read Laura! I knew you could do it! And LOVE how your dancer turned out!

giraffelabel said...

everything that you said rings so true with me as well. what i love about being a part of this is seeing that i am not the only one that feels this way. i figure that if other people think this, and their stuff is so amazing, then maybe mine is too?! not so easy to believe, but i'm trying.

natasha, you have started something truly wonderful here, and joining in with your challenges has been a great "treat" for me. the support that comes from all of the people here is so helpful to try to get past this self-doubt hurdle! thank you to everyone!

Laura Pugh said...

Thanks for all your comments and encouragement everyone! It's so great to hear what others have to share about their own experiences. It's also wonderful to hear from friends I've known awhile and some of my new friends. Truly, this was one of the most fun things I've done in a long time!