Throwback Thursday: That Time My Friend Didn't Believe In Me

Throwback Thursday: That Time My Friend Didn't Believe In Me

There's a time in every artist's life when they don't feel confident AT ALL. You start living a tortured existence, dreadfully anxious as you oscillate between two extremes:

1. Needing to paint like you need to breathe.

2. Being so worried that you're going to suck at it, so you can't even bear to pick up the brush.

Most people, unfortunately, choose the second option all too often. Look, I get it. I was in that position early last year! And I'm about to show you a look into what my paintings looked like last year.

I've been painting my whole life, but not seriously at all. This is the story of my plunge into art as a major player in my life.

 GASP. Yes, this is a piece that I completed last year. I know what you're thinking...W.T.F. More on this in a second...

GASP. Yes, this is a piece that I completed last year. I know what you're thinking...W.T.F. More on this in a second...

Throwback Thursday: That Time My Friend Didn't Believe In Me

 Aw, look at me. So young. So chocolately.

Aw, look at me. So young. So chocolately.

So, rewind to last spring. I was SUPER depressed, and that's putting it lightly. I worked at a chocolate factory and that was cool, but I felt completely and utterly unfulfilled. I couldn't shake the feeling that my coworkers hated me. I couldn't shake my doubts in my relationship (with John, who I ended up marrying - so that's great!). I was really spirally into some bad body issues as I tried a new fad diet - the Paleo diet - while pretending that it wasn't for unhealthy reasons. I was going to art therapy once a week and hating every minute of making collages out of positive words and making thumbprints in polymer clay. 

Then I heard an album. Oh, yeah, you all already know about my relationship with music and art. The two are inseparable for me. That album was Heartthrob by Tegan and Sara (I've linked it at the bottom for you - you're welcome). That album moved me like I've never been moved. Especially the song "Now I'm All Messed Up." I couldn't explain why, but this song had me going into the spare bedroom (eventually my studio!) for the first time with the determination to ACTUALLY F*CKING PAINT.

 Me in the ER after an ovarian cyst ruptured.

Me in the ER after an ovarian cyst ruptured.

I created some really fugly pieces, but I tell you what - it felt damn good to come back to my calling. Normal life sucked. I hated clocking in at a job where my manager would be first mad that I didn't talk to customers, and then would be mad that I talked to customers TOO much. This was also a time when I was suffering through many ovarian cysts, and the pain kept me in my bed for days at a time.

At this time I was also grappling with my new diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. I was constantly reading about the condition and struggling to understand why my mind worked in such messed up ways as to see everyone as my enemy. Also, going on medication for this condition left me with a hard transition period - I felt dizzy all the time, lost my confidence in driving or operating heavy machinery (um, my JOB in the factory!), and was breaking down into tears on the reg.

 Look! My very first homework from Tara's course. I've come a LONG way.

Look! My very first homework from Tara's course. I've come a LONG way.

I needed to feel like I was in control of something. And that's when painting came in.

I felt so amazing about my efforts that I started poking around online, where I ended up finding one of my greatest inspirations - artist Tara Leaver. She has an INCREDIBLE course called Abstractify. It's all about finding your own unique style in painting. Now, as you know, my journey into that issue has been much longer and bumpier. HOWEVER, Tara's course had me moving past that fear that held me back from painting at all, and that was worth everything. 

Now I was happily spending all of my money on art supplies, putting Tegan and Sara's album on repeat, and even sitting outside in the grass with my Neocolors, happily sketching away at an abstract painting.

That's when my friend, who was also my neighbor at the time, walked through the yard on her way to her apartment. She was a sweet person, and a really talented artist herself! I admired her a lot, and wanted to be more like her.

But the words that tumbled out of her mouth ripped my heart in two. "Aw. Look at you trying." 

I know what you might be expecting me to say, and it isn't this:

It was really easy for my friend to not believe in me - in all honesty, I wasn't really all that good. 

 The piece I was creating when she said those words to me.

The piece I was creating when she said those words to me.

But those words haunted me for a long time. Her tone. Her judgement. Those words can be absolutely damning to an amateur, someone who really IS trying. I never asked her to explain herself, and I probably never will. We've lost touch, and it might be for the best.

Because even if I was horrible, and even if my efforts were laughable, they were still EFFORTS. And we should never regret the things we do...we should regret what we DON'T do.

And what I almost didn't do? Art.

 

Can you imagine Taylor Lee without art? Neither can I.

I guess what I'm getting at here is this: F*ck the haters. Even if they're right, even if they're your friends or your family or your heroes. In one of my favorite movies from the 90s, 10 Things I Hate About You, Heath Ledger's character says "Don't let anyone ever make you feel like you don't deserve what you want. Go for it."

And now look at where I am. If I had stopped "trying," I wouldn't be creating pieces that I'm really proud of, like this.

 "Floral," 28"x43" Original Abstract Painting by Taylor Lee

"Floral," 28"x43" Original Abstract Painting by Taylor Lee

I'm ending this post by telling you to try. Keep trying. Make "I'm trying" your freaking mantra if that's what it takes. Don't ever stop. If you don't, trust me, you'll look back at yourself a year from now and see a transformation that you can't even imagine. I know I did.

And listen to this album. It's f*cking good. Let me know what you think! 

Inside the Process: 4 Steps to Starting a Painting

Inside the Process: 4 Steps to Starting a Painting

My Artist Residency in Puebla, Part 4: That Time I Told Everyone They Were Ugly, Too.

My Artist Residency in Puebla, Part 4: That Time I Told Everyone They Were Ugly, Too.