The Challenge

Confession: I didn’t make a website to write a blog.

I just wanted to post my art on a professional platform. I had full intentions to avoid the whole blog part of it, if I’m being honest. Half of the reason, I suppose, is because I was not, and in fact am still not, convinced that anyone would want to read it. The other half is because I didn’t think I’d actually have anything to say.

Staring at a blank screen can be intimidating. Though lifeless, it seems to stare back. And be really judgy.

Then it dawned on me that a blank canvas or sketch pad can have the same effect. There’s the initial hurdle of not losing my imagination the second I’ve sharpened my graphite. Then making sense of my brain, translating that into one image, and planning color themes to quite literally set the tone my mind is speaking in. For me, the most challenging aspect of painting is leaving the emotions or memories with the drying paint so that they can then stir a true reaction within the viewer. Drawing is remarkably easier for me to convey emotion, only much more difficult to nail in terms of perspective and proportion. When I first started drawing and painting, each of these challenges felt like a brick that, when combined, could form the Great Wall of China.

But that’s really only the warm-up, isn’t it? Because even after managing to burst through the Great Wall itself, would anyone want to see my art? Could I ever be validated as a true artist whose work could do more than scratch the service and do more than take up space on a wall?

ver the years I’ve made a lot of unique home decor. It’s mostly received a lot of attention and strong feedback. But this endeavor is different somehow. Many of my craft pieces are made of trash or scrap paper. They’re not meant to provoke.

For example, the dragonfly is a great piece. (Learn how to make it here in a free step-by-step tutorial.) It’s unique, original, massive in size (appx. 56 x 40 inches) and a conversation piece. But that’s about it. I didn’t have to challenge my mind to make this.

Looking back, I actually made the this and most other decor out of necessity. When you have no money and bare walls, you have to improvise. I know, I know… home decor a necessity? My answer is yes. Yes it is.

Drawing and painting take true skill. What an artist puts on canvas is much more personal than gluing toilet paper rolls (even if the outcome of TP rolls is pretty badass).

So back to the million dollar question – will my hard work and personal investment in art have the same positive reaction that the toilet paper rolls had?

The reality is I have absolutely no clue. At least not yet. As disappointing as that may sound, I suddenly found that I don’t give a damn … well, okay, maybe a little one.

So, I cautiously plunged in. I devoured articles, books and tutorials by the dozen. And I haven’t stopped since. It has become easier, though. As my skill has grown, the content and quality of lessons has also grown exponentially. I’m also able to work much faster, often taking only an hour or two for drawings that took several hours spanned over several days on the first couple of attempts.

Initially, whenever I’d see a portrait drawing so lifelike it could pass as photography or a painting with color depth and composition so harmonic it could make me forget for a moment that everything else in the world is still moving, I would let out one loud ‘HA!’ followed by a long slew of grumblings peppered with f-bombs that were as inventive as they were numerous. It might seem an odd reaction, and you’re right, but remember, the socially awkward are called that for a reason.

This particular ‘HA!’ really isn’t funny as I write this now. I laughed because I thought — no, I knew — that something so beautiful and moving could never come from my hands, from my stunted imagination. My work would likely max out at about the same level as the overly contrasted, never blended pieces people produce in those classes where you get schnockered on wine while following a simple, generic tutorials.

I am not snubbing those classes – they’re actually a lot of fun. But art that reaches inside you and draws out forgotten emotions, provokes every sense all at once, makes your mind race but go blank at the same time… has never been created within those walls. At least not while wafting the scent of white privilege and Pinot Grigio.

Over time, I began conquering each subject matter I thought I’d never thought possible. I was finding my own artistic voice and style, which is something not located in any other studio but my own.

I finally discovered that I was painting for me rather than for an audience.

Now, if you’re still with me, you’ll likely be relieved to know that I don’t plan to for the blog section to be a bunch of dear diary drivel, as I’ve done here. I hope to share some tips and insights I’ve picked up on my journey and that in turn, help another aspiring artist climb over their Great Wall.

Wish me luck!

If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.

Edward Hopper

By Willow Artistry by Christine Wueste

I’ve been crafting my home decor and artwork since I traded my bassinet walls for the real deal. Painting and paper art are my favorites and make up the bulk of my listed pieces. I hope you enjoy my pieces as much as enjoy making them!

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