Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Donning My Red Bra of Courage...

You may or may not have noticed that in my profile, I categorize myself as an "artist." Those that know me will agree, with major frustration, that I am a rather Apologetic Artist.

THIS is what I plan to overcome, this year.

Starting now.

I have always been able to draw anything I can see, and with any medium. Though my skills increased with classes, a basic technical knowledge of perspective and proportion, and practice, the ability to place image-to-paper has always come naturally to me.

Some Boring History

My first "real" drawing, of a hummingbird, was wrought over envy at friend Dan Smith, when I was 12 years old. I wanted to do that; I wanted to excel; I wanted to compete. Mostly, though, I wanted the attention.

Huh! Easy! I was in direct competition with Dan for the next 7 years, always managing to squeak by with the a slightly higher award, though his work was better than mine.

There is a nationwide program called The Scholastic Art Competition. "Back in the day," the highest award you could attain was a "Hallmark;" 5 were awarded in each state. After leap-frogging and edging one another out since 6th grade, Dan and I ribbed each other constantly in our last year of school: last chance for the Hallmark. In that graduating year, 1981, the unthinkable happened: 2 of the 5 Hallmarks were awarded to one high school: Dan Smith. Lori Stewart.

I left school that day before my art teacher was able to contact me with the good news. My mother was giddy and dancing around the house when I got home. She thrust the newspaper in my face. There, on the front page, was my award-winning drawing....

And I was MORTified, dahlings! This was not one of my advanced art projects! This was one of my 10-minute drawings, of which we were required to turn in 5 a week. My art teacher had submitted it behind my back! This drawing was SHIT, I thought, and good god, here it was on the freakin' front page for god and the whole world to see! I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. Instead, I was then forced to go thru a series of awards ceremonies, dinners, a day touring the U of I art classes, more photos, and exhibitions.

I look at it now, and I realize, it wasn't so bad. I had higher hopes for other entries, and couldn't see that the 10-minute drawing had any merit.

So. Life after high school, as life does, took a series of twists and turns, that involved some art, some college. I got a job doing what I went to school to learn, dropped out of college, and have been doing some semblance of art or art-related projects, layout, and design, for publishing companies, and for myself, since then. 1 son, 1 foster daughter, 2 husbands, (not in that order) 6 houses, 2 cats, lots of laughter, a few tears...and 25 years later...

...here I am.

Read my lips:

I am Returning to Art.

And the first thing on my agenda is to shed this Mental Hurdle, this self-doubt and degradation of my work, that has lovingly stayed by my side through it all.

For all of my ability to put something on paper, I still doubt myself. I say, "I can't" and "it's not good enough." I panic, quit early, have lost some of my attention span. That I actually HAVE managed to produce a few nice things has been of little consequence, for some reason. I shrug them off as a stroke of luck, a fluke.

How'm I ever going to get over this?

Well, I'm just going to do it!

To start out, I am going to post some of my drawings and paintings now, and over the next few days.

I don't need your commentary so much as I need to take this step. Really, what's the point of having a God-given talent and squirreling it away out of shyness?

So! I am going to share a few pieces with you, and then I'm going to get back to getting back where I left off. I WILL keep you posted.

Click on each piece for a more detailed view. I'm going to go lie down now. All of this courage is wearing me out.

Acrylic on masonite.

Bittersweet. Prismacolor Pencils.


Brush & ink.




  1. nice gnightgirl! We share very similar backgrounds. I too am an apologetic artist very much as you except I don't work for in a layout department (sorry if I misquoted that). I take tons of classes and this year will have my own studio in my home. My goal is to paint one painting a day, 30 minute allowance only, to free my mind and hand. I'm wondering if I should do this 2 hours into a different painting and then switch to the 30 minute painting since it takes me about that long before I can "see" properly.

    Anyway, your Newspaper painting was great for a 10 year old, great for many adults I know as well!

    Keep it up!

  2. your talent amazes me. you must release it!

  3. Uh...wow. I like the fish the best. They're all pretty amazing but that's the one that speaks loudest to me. It says "BOO!" You're awesome! Rock on with your bad self! Things are looking up here in NY.

  4. I couldn't support this move more!!

    I'm looking forward to seeing all of the beautiful works!

  5. Inspiring stuff! You and art is like me and writing: the talent is useless without the tenacity to see it through. By the end of this year I'll have finished my first novel and hopefully have plucked up the courage to send it to someone: having a light is all well and good but there's not much to look at under a bushel!

    Go for it!
    (PS: I love the fish too - it's very striking)

  6. How much would you charge to come and paint a wall in my house?

  7. Red bra of courage. I feel compelled to go out and get some red boxers of courage. lol

  8. rgmb: Very cool, I'm excited for you, and hope you keep my posted. My easel is currently in the sunroom, which is still too cold for winter use, so I have some rearranging to do.

    SS: I'm hoping to do just that.

    Andy: Fish. Thanks, I like that colorful little guy too.

    Momo: Counting on you to crack the whip!

    Sveny: Good luck with that novel, and if you can't find the courage to send it in, call me, I'll kick your butt for you.

    Tracy: I don't have a price list yet, girlfriend...but thanks for your faith.

    Ruben: No red boxers without a matching red cape, SuperRuben!

  9. Anonymous10:01 PM

    If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.

    -- Author: Vincent Van Gogh

    it's about time woman!!!

  10. I can't wait to see more. This is great.

  11. This is SO DAMN COOL! I love hearing stories of people finding the courage to follow their hearts. This is should be one of the proudest moments of your life and I hope it is. Scariest, exciting-est ~ whatever ~ thrillingest, frightingest ~ hey, I'm a writer, I can make up words with the best of them ~ jaw-dropping-est AND proudest moments. I hope it is and more.

    When I first decided to write full-time, a friend of mine told me to start calling myself a writer. Consider myself a writer. Nevermind that no publisher had bought my books. Nevermind that I had no contracts. Nevermind that I had never published a thing. Consider myself a writer. It was some of the best advice I have ever been given. Within six months, I had three book contracts and options with two publishers. Whatever level you are on now, wherever you want to take your art ~ You Are An Arist. Don't ever give that up again. ;)

  12. You're my hero. I wonder if I'll ever return to art :-)


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