Not Stella, But I Intend On Gettin’ My Groove Back
A Personal Experiment on Medium
“I’m not an optimist. I’m a realist. And my reality is that we live in a multifaceted, multicultural world. And maybe once we stop labeling ourselves, then maybe everyone else will.” — Octavia Spencer
Sometimes, it can be difficult to be a multifaceted person in a world/ culture/society that expects you to be good at one thing. Furthermore, expects you to pick — one label, job title, career — one thing and stay in that lane. I am more than one thing. I am an artist. I am a writer. I am an entrepreneur with three non-art or writing-related businesses. I am a children’s book author and illustrator. I am sometimes, a clothing designer. It is the labeling that can get tricky.
I often dread when people ask, “What do you do?” I struggle to reply. It might be easier if they’d ask: “What don’t you do?” Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop me from pursuing all of these wonderful gifts. It has, however, impacted the way I approach my work — my practices. These identities exist concurrently but never in a cohesive or integrated way.
I detailed the issue in a piece I wrote on my other Medium account, Melissa A. Matthews, wherein I said this:
You see, as both a writer and a visual artist, I have NEVER had a period in my life in which I did both simultaneously for an extended period.
I can maintain a drawing and painting practice every day for months on end. The same with writing.
At present, I’ve been publishing a minimum of four to five posts on Medium a week for the last six months and easily posted daily over the last month.
However, putting all of this energy into my writing has left devoid of energy for my drawing and painting practice.
The conundrum that exists for me is that conventional wisdom teaches us that art and artists are born out of a mythical sort of inspiration that presents itself at whim. For many years, I let myself believe that this was true. I think because it absolved me of responsibility for maintaining my art practice.
Practice, practice, practice…
Sincere practice, makes the impossible possible. — Dada Vaswani
The one thing I have learned over my fifteen years as a professional mixed media artist and painter is that art is practice. Like any other worthwhile undertaking, it requires dedicated time and effort. This fact in conjunction with the conventional idea that it is impossible to draw pure inspiration and creative energy for two separate disciplines — simultaneously — from the same well has held me back. I have allowed myself to write more and draw less. I have given myself a pass but there is a toll taken when one neglects a gift.
I have found myself missing the spark — satisfaction — I get from creating with my hands. Thus, I have challenged myself to write my way back to my art practice.
Writing a wrong
Here, I will document my journey through daily drawings, collages, and musings. I’ll also look back/ chronicle the art and artists that inspired, spurred, and/or encouraged me on my journey to get a BFA in art all those years ago. I’ll look forward to what the next fifteen years of art will look like for me.
Mostly, though, I am going to play…
“We pass a bunch of children playing in a small meadow which appears to be in the middle of nowhere and then a little girl with a backpack stops to stare at me like I’m a freak and I’m thinking what is she doing out here all by herself? Further up are more kids, shabbily dressed but clean and chasing each other around and some are digging something up from the ground and one is chasing a goat (I think it’s a goat) and they are all laughing and suddenly it occurs to me that these children look pretty damn happy like they are having big fun […]and those kids look like they know how to amuse themselves, something we have forgotten,” — Terry McMillan, How Stella Got Her Groove Back
Join me as I find some of the big fun and the art that has eluded my grasp until now.
@Diary of An Extra Black Art Chick is an experiment by Melissa A. Matthews to write her way back to her art practice. Follow this account to follow that journey and follow her other account to see what else she’s into.