Tuesday, May 22, 2007


It was just about four years ago that my obsession began. And there really is no other way to describe it. I sat down, innocently enough with a box of assorted colors of Sculpey. All those colors. I was supposed to come up with some projects to help a friend out with a workshop. I hadn't really done much with polymer clay before, but I wanted to help out a friend. Little did I know what I was unleashing......

The workshop was cancelled. ...."oh, that's too bad"....and I got right back to my clay.

I would work my way through all my favorite colors first. As I got down to those less appealing colors I would figure out challenges to engage myself. I would not let myself go out and buy more clay till what I had was gone. I began scouring eBay for deals on clay....no such thing! I voraciously read every word in the two books I had,....over and over again. Soon I had to have better clay, the pasta machine, more books..... The children's book I was trying to get published, was getting pushed further and further back on my work table. Soon I picked it up and put it away.

I need to do this. Nothing I have ever done in my life has been so satisfying or engaging. I have never worked so hard or so long for so little.

But when I listen to interviews of other artists on Alison Lee's podcasts, I am fascinated by the fact that this "unusual behavior" or this obsession is the norm among so many. This need to create. This connection with the media. We are driven to express something with our hands and various materials. It is as close to a "calling" as I will ever know.

But this morning it occurred to me that our society is quicker to place value on so many other skills and talents. I recalled a project I worked on when I was getting my MBA. It was an independent project. Five of us were working on a marketing plan for a car company. As part of the plan we had to come up with an ad. My creative juices were chomping at the bit. "I'll do the drawings!", as I secretly jumped up and down inside. I spent hours drawing out the storyboard of our ad concept. Going into details far beyond what was required. I had so much fun doing it. When I showed them to the group, they were shocked. Nobody knew. No one knew I could draw. And right then, I wanted it to be my secret again. I wanted to tuck it back into hiding. The axis had shifted. I was not the same Judy they knew the day before, and they couldn't easily fit the pieces together. It was an elephant in the room....Why? How long? Why not? All questions I could not or would not answer. It was easier to get back to the project and the business questions that I could answer. And so that was what I did for quite some time. It was safer to be an MBA student than an artist-wannabe.

It took a long time before I gave myself permission to explore that side of myself. Before I gave it the value in my life that it deserved.

Now, I cannot imagine living my life without my art. I have to create. I have to make things. I have to work with color and form and texture. That MBA has been a valuable asset. I am glad to have that knowledge and the business experience. But for some reason I never thought I could have both. Be engaged in business and be creative. But clearly, I can.

I was waiting for someone else to give me permission. To show me the way. I was waiting to be "good enough", and for someone else to tell me that I was "good enough." "Good enough for what?", I have to ask now. And who is going to decide? I now know that permission, or evaluation is meaningless. When you feel that passion and drive, and you let yourself pursue it, it doesn't matter if others understand or approve. You know you are on the right path. You do it because you have to do it. And if it is the right path, other around you will eventually come to see that as well. It was not a straight line to where I am today, but each step of the journey informed where I am today.

Are you waiting for permission in your life? Guess what? The only person who can sign that permission slip now is you. So, are you going to let yourself go on this journey, or are you going to stay home, where you know the rules, and know what to expect?

1 comment:

artandtea said...

Thanks Judy, you put that so eloquently. It is amazing how in one moment we can have an experience that will change our life. That is why I think it is so important to live in the moment and be as open as you can with all of your senses to what is happening around you and inside of you. You never know when someone will put "a block of clay" in your hand and it will start a whole new journey. And, you're right, no one will do it for you. You have to do it for yourself.