The ‘Herstory: She Can’ series profiles women who pursue their passions. Each have stepped up with courage, a message, and a willingness to share her own odyssey.
Since August is ‘American Artist Appreciation Month‘ we are delighted to share a first hand account from L, the Colorado based artist who created our Year 3 Design
(available on a variety of products at our Her Odyssey shop) .
On the puna, people identify strongly with the land from which they come.
They differentiate themselves by hats and the color and design of their fabrics.
In this image L captures the energy and perspective of our walk across the severe terrain of the high Central Andes.
A line of Cholitas, their telling sombreros and quintessential double braids, move up the middle of the painting, guiding us through the artist’s rendering of the story their fabric patterns tell.
“At its best, Art is a very high and rarified form of communication. We have it specifically so that we can deal with things for which other forms of language are either inadequate or inaccurate.”
Art is a universal language that transcends all barriers. Everyone can enjoy art in one way or another. Having the ability to communicate with pretty much every single human being on the planet is emotionally powerful. This is just a teensy bit of why art has become such an important part of my life.
I remember all the way back to preschool. The best part of the day was when I could go to the art table, uncap a few markers, and just draw whatever I wanted. It wasn’t anything great – I generally drew “people” – blobs that really looked like potatoes with rigor mortised limbs and garish, gaping faces. I’d present these monstrosities to my mom at the end of the day with the confidence only found in 3 and 4 year olds. She still has these pictures, tucked safely away in a box.
I’d like to think that my skill level eventually progressed past shapeless beings, and into a more honed direction, though it wasn’t without practice. Thankfully, my parents were pretty supportive of my artsy ways. I’d look forward to summer break, when they’d put me in art classes sponsored by the county recreation district. I’d spend days in muggy classrooms, learning papier mache, Japanese watercolour techniques, or throwing pots. Once I got in to high school, I took every art class I possibly could. At that time, I really just wanted to hurry up and be an artist. I wanted to be perfect at every piece I made, regardless of medium. But I wasn’t! I was terrible. I made a lot of crappy things. I listened, and followed instructions, and still hated just about everything I made. It was frustrating and discouraging.
Despite these feelings of absolute failure, I kept going. I made more horrible things, until one day, I made something really cool. Something I was actually proud of. It was a completely foreign feeling to look at a piece of art that I made with my own two hands, and actually be proud of it; to want to show it off and to as many people as I possibly could. So I entered it into an art show – and won first place. (I won’t talk about the other five pieces I also entered into the show that did not place.)
This small bit of recognition was enough to ignite a fire within me. It made me want to find new styles of art; to really find my own style of art. At first it was scary: it was a lot like being in a dark room that you’ve never been in before. You kind of shuffle around slowly, feeling around to get an idea of where things are. You stub your toes on heavy furniture, stumble around, feel things you think you recognize but aren’t entirely sure if you’re right. I tried things that were just meh, didn’t really do it for me. I tried things that I liked, but just couldn’t tweak the style enough to really make it me. Then I realised that maybe polished pieces just weren’t me. Maybe I was trying to make the square peg fit in the round hole. So I stopped trying to force that peg in, and just went with the flow that was already coming out of my paintbrush.
It was me! There I was! I had found it! It was glorious, warm, inviting, welcoming. I had found the light switch in the dark room and turned on the lights, and was pleasantly surprised with what I found. I had found myself, which was something I struggled with for close to 30 years. I had found a niche that I liked, that felt like me, but was still pliable enough to allow me the freedom to truly express myself without limitations. I didn’t feel limited to just paint; I was finally able to incorporate a variety of mediums into my art and still feel like I was being true to myself. It was very liberating to finally feel okay with the things that I was making. I no longer felt the need to be perfect in my creations, I just needed to feel like I had expressed myself adequately for the piece.
To me, that’s the beauty of art. It’s deeply personal, yet can mean any number of things to everyone else. The ability to transcend cultures and language barriers with something as simple as a pencil sketch is incredible. With social media, the reach is even greater. I can post a picture of my latest work in progress, and it’s instantly seen by people all over the world. I love how art can touch any and everybody, and stand the test of time. It’s like a time capsule of where the artist is at that point in time. A visual journal, of sorts, that expresses the deepest and most personal of feelings that are sometimes hard to articulate in any other way.