My Biggest Flaw As An Artist

My Biggest Flaw As An Artist

Nine years ago today I started Dirty Footprints Studio on a free Blogger account.

I simply had a yearning to write about my creative process and a sincere hope to meet some interesting people.

I was working as a full time art teacher in a public elementary/ middle school by day and my nights were for throwing clay around in a co-op studio tucked deep in the dusty desert.

I still get goosebumps remembering the sun sets over the mountains as I threw my wobbly masterpieces. I’d think to myself that this is what Georgia O’Keeffe would have felt like…if she was a potter. Hands dripping with red Earth as the sky bled from tangerine, to luminous opera, to the darkest of merlots.

Though this is where I pause and take a long sigh.

Because it was right around this time: Spring, when new life begins to tickle the cactus and the cottonwoods — that something inside my heart started to feel restless.

My husband Hansel and I moved to Arizona only two years prior and before then we were living in Cleveland, Ohio where I was working in clay for almost a decade with very little professional recognition. But in Arizona, almost immediately I had galleries inviting me to show my work and my vessels were selling faster than I could make them. It was exciting and exhausting all at the same time.

So when the threads of my heart started to tug in a different direction, of course I thought it would be ridiculous to walk away. Things were just starting to groove.

But how I felt inside didn’t match up with the outward success I was actually receiving. I wanted to focus on painting again – my first and true love.

So I emptied a kiln, packed up my glazes, and gave my blessings to the first person on the co-op waiting list. One of the two bedrooms in our tiny apartment was waiting as my painting studio.

Now I would spend my days being the only art teacher in a public school of close to 1000 people, then go home to a view of a mundane parking lot, my beloved paints, and a computer screen.

My new studio wasn’t as romantic as the co-op out in the desert, but painting made my cells sizzle again and that was confirmation enough that this decision was the right one.

To be honest, this is how I always navigate my life.

I have volumes of stories just like this one — where I follow my heart, things move in a bright direction and then damn it, that restlessness sets in again.

A friend of mine once said that my life is about making sand castles. I think she nailed it.

What I’m not telling you about is the agony I go through as well. All the self doubt and the months (sometimes years) of trying to convince myself not to listen to the calling in my heart — that it’s illogical — doesn’t make financial sense – that I’m not being responsible — that of course I’m going to fail.

Then something always cracks inside me. Always. I don’t know how. I don’t know why.

But all the ways I beat myself up become prison bars and the only way to break out is by following my truth.

So I do it and I feel free. And every time I create something new thinking this is it! I’ve found it — my one and only path — and then sooner or later the cycle begins again.

I used to think this was my curse. My greatest flaw. My downfall as an artist and most of all a person.

I used to think that something was wrong with me because I had a million different art jobs instead of one strong, seamless career.

But I don’t believe that shit anymore.

Sure, I still beat myself up every time the restlessness sets in again. Though now I know that this too is who I am. This is how I roll.

This pattern is my power — my strength — my greatest asset as an artist, a person, and a Soul.

My journey through Life is a spiral that takes me deeper and deeper. It’s not some long ladder taking me higher and higher.

When I started Dirty Footprints Studio online nine years ago today, I had no idea that it would become a business — a livelihood.

I had no clue that two years later I would be quitting my full time teaching job and going on to teaching amazing women in gorgeous places like Mexico, Sedona, Washington, and Florida!

All I wanted to do was share my creative process and meet some interesting people.

The thing that surprises me the most is that I still am doing what I set out to do — and loving every minute of it!

And for the last six years I’ve been supporting women artists to do exactly the same. To follow their heart. To break through their self imposed prisons. To create something that makes their cells sizzle and feeds their families and hearts and communities.

I call it IGNITE, because that’s what I’m good at. That’s what I do again and again in my own life: ignite new paths.

So, if you’re heart is feeling restless, ripe, and ready for change — come join me. My IGNITE Online Intensive start May 22nd and only a few spaces remain.

Let’s ignite a new dream together.

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