How I Learned to Love My Art, One Gift at a Time

Me, with some of the many books I have edited. Great inspiration in this stack!

“Artist” is a scary word. I’ve spent a good portion of my life calling myself by other names: crafter, sometimes sewer, beginning knitter, papercrafter. Why? Because I’m surrounded by talent, mega-talent. Artists who have made it big and bold and show it to the world with a bang. By comparison, I have felt like I come in with a whimper, and leave without a sound. How… sad.

But I came to the realization that I was working from the wrong standards: Other Standards. These other standards were certainly self-imposed, and certainly worthless to use a measuring stick. I wasn’t winning any medals with my self-worth by traveling the path of becoming an artist; or, at least, what I thought was the path.

So to break free from these chains (cue: Wilson Phillips), I decided to just make art for people I love. Small things. Things that would speak to their personalities and likes and needs. A pair of earrings here, a baby blanket there. A scarf thrown in for good measure. I used the Telmadera Fusion technique (from Collage Fusion) to make picture frames. A book bag for a two-year-old to use at the beach. And cards, cards galore for a little something extra special.

I took the focus off myself and poured my creativity into someone else, and beautiful things happened. Before, I was concerned about what people would think of my art that was made for the sake of art. But making art for the sake of a loved one? That was a magical shift in thinking.

So, I’m going to share something that I made for Valentine’s Day. All this talk about doodling, pens and drawing lead me to a gift for my husband.

My husband, Graham, winning the peg board game at Cracker Barrel.

Ah, true love! We don’t usually exchange gifts for any holiday—it’s been that way for six years. But the aforementioned prompts nudged me in this direction. Knowing that I can make him a piece of art, and he’s over the moon about me just making him something, it is freeing. So I got out my Sharpie fine tip pen, a small piece of matte board and just started… doing stuff. The first was to write a Fred Rogers’ song (yeah, as in Mr. Rogers) that we had read at our wedding (read it here). And then I doodled. The result is this:

High art? Deep, layered emotive art? “I’d buy that in a minute” art? It’s probably not any of these things. But he loves it, and that’s all that really mattered. (But please do excuse the photos, I took them before I read this.)

So, that’s my process. that’s how I learned how to love my art. What is your experience? I’d love to know!

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About Julie

Crafter, editor, home chef and baker—I love to create in all aspects of life.
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