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4 Steps to Working Success

Hello again. It’s been about a month since my last post, and it’s been full of getting my thinking on the right path. There was an amazing person who worked at the Sheriff’s Office at the same time as me. One day at a staff meeting, he was telling us about an employee who had come to him

with a constant complaint about a work situation with another employee, and he said to the person, “how much are they paying you?” Perplexed by the question, the employee asked for clarification, and he said, “how much are they paying you to rent space in your head?”

That story sums up why I have struggled to get my art going for all these years. Although I have been the last to admit it, always thinking that I was not a person that the opinions of others could sway, I have spent years letting others define me and my work, not the positive influences, of course. In fact, I was very dependent on it. Some may say that it created a cozy, safe cave for me never to have to achieve anything more than a couple of pieces that my friends could tell me were great (of course, I would only show the successes), and then I’d shut back down. I’ve been a real self-imposed victim. I isolated myself from the people and things that could have helped me be the best I could be. But I just could not see it. We have all experienced that something that happened to us that changed the course of our life. Many can grow from that, becoming even stronger and better, defying the negative that could have resulted. Others of us struggle to see past it. A sort of “the devil you know” situation. Now that I actually understand this, similar to a light bulb moment, I am learning not to let those naggy negative voices control me anymore. It is proving more of a struggle than I expected in my day-to-day activities. I’ve had to develop a system ensuring that I am not paying my own negative self to rent space in my head! Not kidding; it’s a constant struggle every day. It really is so much easier never to try, but isn’t that the ultimate fail?

Much like the steps I’ve utilized in the past to be successful at jobs, I’ve defined a simple four-step process to help keep me on task.

Step 1: I’ve had to look at my art differently than I have in the past. My work is, in many cases, very personal, so I have to make sure that I can separate myself to a degree. I have to remind myself that if someone rejects a piece that I create, I am not canceled. As I write this, it almost seems ridiculous that I would even need to say that. I don’t think I ever put words to it before, but that really is the fear. I would welcome any feedback from you if you have experienced this feeling.

Step 2: Practice and Create: There are days that I just don’t want to paint because “I’m not that good,” “I can’t think of anything to paint,” “I deserve a break.” My schedule includes painting at least four hours, five days a week (more is welcome), which is starting to make a difference in my confidence with my chosen mediums. I allow myself to make mistakes and not trash the whole idea because of it. I sketch daily and have found that I’m so excited about it that I have even woke up in the middle of the night with a “great” idea and got up to sketch it down! I have not done that since my college days!!

Step 3: Network and Growth Opportunities: This one proves very difficult for me (see step one). But, it is so essential. If no one knows I exist, how can I ever learn from them and share my things to help them grow? It’s been a bit of a struggle with Covid, but activities are starting to open up again. Next week is life drawing, one of my all-time favorite things to do. I joined the local Plein Aire group, and now that Texas is a little cooler, I think I’m ready to attend an outing! In the spring session at the Community College, I plan on taking a metal sculpting class, something I have always wanted to do. Finally, as my work progresses, I feel more confident approaching shows and galleries with my work and seeing where that takes me.

Step 4: I’ve had to create a success-driven rubric. It’s a little tricky as sometimes I start things, and they don’t work. But, I have to make sure I am working. I have created a projects calendar where I can take notes and track progress. Some of the projects I’ve worked on for years! There will always be ones like that, but it has to be for the right reasons, not because I was too scared to do it. I’m looking to figure out in Excel how to track the reasons for complete projects and scrapped projects. This way, I can better see what is working for me. I happen to live with the greatest Excel expert next to the creators of the program – Wayne. Ask anyone who works with him. 

Words cannot express how moved I am that you all have taken the time to follow my blog and my work. It means more to me than I can ever say. Quick shout out to my husband, Wayne. I give that man grief more than ever deserved, but he’s always been there for me and believed in me, and even built me a drying rack today. Thank you, Wayne XO. Please always feel free to reach out to me with comments and ideas; I love hearing from you. Here in Texas, we are saying welcome to fall. No pretty colors, but we do get to say good night to snakes for a few months! Be well!

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