Lesson Three - Janis D.

That Damned Committee!

This week’s lessons needed to come forward and was I ever ready for it!  The original committee is long since gone and dismantled.  That doesn’t mean, however, that new ones don’t keep cropping up. But I’ve become fairly adept at dismissing them within a reasonable amount of time now. 

Still, no matter how long you live, you’re always still living with the internalization of these experiences to some degree. The trick, of course, is managing the damage without tricking yourself. I no longer pretend that people don’t hurt me when what they say feels hurtful. That’s probably the biggest step to take…took most of my life.  It’s important because otherwise you’re just perpetuating the myths and hurting yourself. 

I used to put on a hard shell that appeared impenetrable as a self-protection devise.  For so long, I wondered why people treated me like I was a rock without feeling. Besides, the sooner you acknowledge this, the sooner you can forgive it and move on.   

Of course, it was just the opposite – I was fragile and my feeling level was deeper than most people ever experience.  It took more than a few sessions in “the chair” to know this.  I thought everyone felt the same way.  It took chemicals before I finally understood this reality. It’s no wonder a child develops these self-defenses but even more to unlearn them…it’s a lifelong learning experience.

In some ways, getting my own impulses under control gets a little easier when your feelings are more in control, but these things are very deep-seated and take more time and effort to root them out.  And because they extend into so many realms of your life and corners of your mind and heart. In this light, that my art world would be so riddled with these effects, is not surprising since that’s the one area I most treasured for my own and the special area that the committee went for the jugular. 

“Why can’t you do something that’s recognizable?”  “It doesn’t look like anything to me.  Why bother?” And so on.   As a 15 year-old I painted to express my feelings, not to represent things in the world, that I thought then, were better candidates for the camera. But, a not uncommon situation back then, my parents did not understand either that or me. I continued to do the kind of abstract painting I preferred to do, but over the years, when that committee grew larger and more extended, I think I felt outnumbered and began to do more representative-ish stuff.  Well, perhaps I just ended up doing a mish-mash of works that just high-lighted my opposing or ambivalent feelings and ended up falling far short of being successful. Ha!  Ha!  I just realized this! Nevertheless, somewhere deep within, I recognized this even if I couldn’t articulate it, and began to be more informed as an artist and learned more techniques to deliver more acceptable images. But I was still falling short of my own marks! 

And so…I’m here now and in time may live a few more years, maybe another twenty.  When was it that Grandma Moses started?  Thank the goddesses, we never stop learning. 

And I thank them for today and all that I’m about to learn and put into action in the new art I create.  I’m going to check myself at my studio door every day and remind myself that every time I do just that, check myself at the door, I’m building new paths to creation, new muscle memories that will come into play as I play with intention and new energy to rev me up for the day’s work. 

Amen.