Thursday, May 16, 2013

I hate my art.

*I promise there's a point to this.  Please read whole post.  

Yup.  I said it.  Sometimes, I really hate my art.  This is the weekend of a pretty big art event for me (Art-A-Whirl) and I confess. I hate my art.  I am doubting myself. Sometimes I wonder what I am doing- I mean, can I really make a career out of being an artist?  Am I delusional?  Besides, no one needs original art... Target and Ikea prints suit most people just fine!

Hanging my work for Art-A-Whirl this weekend
I feel like it's written all over my face- that I am a fraudulent artist and everyone sees that my work isn't that good. Sometimes months go by and I don't sell anything, which makes me feel like I am failing. There must be something wrong- I'm failing with my work, my passion is steering me in the wrong direction, I am wasting my time and effort.  It's dumb.  I'm dumb for trying.  Is this normal? Am I normal?  Wait, don't answer that.

Some days I hate my art more than others, like the  days I will fix my attention on a certain piece and obsess about how I hate it so much that I can't even look at it another minute.  I completely whitewash it without a moment of hesitation.  No one will ever know it's gone, except me.  And then I paint something else on that same canvas, forcing myself to make something better than what is was before (it works every time).  I feel better in some kind of way.  If I don't like it, no one else would like it, so I get rid of it's evidence forever!

Another reason I begin to hate a piece of art is if someone asks me if I painted a big 'ol picture of myself.  When enough people ask me this, I start to get a bit angry.   I know people are trying to be a nice, and maybe it's a strange compliment, but  I would never, ever, ever paint myself and then actually expect someone to buy it... I am not that narcissistic that I would have an entire body of work consisting of my own self.  So, I am laying this question to rest before the weekend... No.  I absolutely do not, never have and never will paint a picture of myself.

Tonight is my private opening event for a handful of special guests before the Art-A-Whirl weekend begins.  I can't help but wonder though... why do I go through all this effort of making all of this art, packing it up, toting it across the country for these shows, hanging it, putting on openings, talking about it for a few hours just to take it down, tote it/ship it back to my studio and then have them collect while trying to stay motivated to make more and more art?  This madness is for something greater, right?

Why am I writing all this?  Because.  With struggle, pain and torture comes something good.  And my boyfriend is the one who helped me realize this.

My boyfriend is my best friend, my rock, my biggest supporter when I get into these moods.  He lifts me up when I hate my art.  He is one of the two people who know about my manic-white-washing episodes.   He always, always has the greatest advice.   I vented to him via text messages about my anxiety and disappointment in my work and what he said will stick with me forever. I know I can't be the only artist/entrepreneur/creative person to doubt themselves and their work this way, so hopefully this can help someone else  These words are like gold.  All artists need a Ryan in their lives.

If you are an artist/entrepreneur/creative person feeling similar to me and you don't have a Ryan, you can borrow mine to help get your out of the gutter of negative thoughts.  Just put your name in place of mine:

Ryan: Today is the day!!!
Me: Is it a holiday?
Ryan: Oh yes.  It's Whirl
Me: Literally everyone I invited to the opening canceled last minute.  I have four people coming.
Ryan: I am proud of u.  U don't see what I see.  Trust me... Keep going.  Trust the process.  It's a journey you're on.
Me: I feel so bad.  I feel like I'm failing.  My work is dumb.
Ryan: In humility you will succeed.  Ur work is art. Art is a gift from the artist, but also FOR the artist.  Focus on the gift, not the outcome.  The outcome isn't important now.
Me: I love you.  You make me cry.  You're my greatest gift.
Ryan: The gift will transcend.
Me: I don't see the gift.  I feel like I'm pretending to make it something it's not.
Ryan: Because you're judging the outcome.  The gift was on display last Sat night. U saw it, heard it. Felt it.  It will come again. Trust.  Four people are coming (tonight) for the gift.  It takes time. Make art. Smile. Help people. Be humble.  Make art.
Me: I love you.  

He's brilliant.  How can he be so smart? It's like he gave me temporary wings and I can fly. Focus on the gift, not the outcome.  In humility I will succeed.  Now, I will go sell my art.  And, I will be happy to talk about it because I have remembered why I do it.

And ok, I don't really hate my art. But, I can dislike it at times because I want it to be perfect, and nothing is ever perfect in the artist's eyes.  But, while I look at my work with the most critical eye, I need to remember that most people don't look at it the way I do.  They see something else, and they like it enough that they're proud to hang it in their homes all across the country. I need to trust that I am doing good work that makes people happy.

My art is my love and my enemy.  I love the creation process, but I know that it will never be good enough in my eyes.  Nothing is ever finished.  So I keep creating, keep trying, keep going and evolve my body of work until maybe one day I can see it differently.  I won't stop.  I can't.

This is my weekend to share it, so come see it!  All details are in the last post before this!

Visual directions to my show- Corner of 15th and VanBuren has a big parking lot, go into the 1450 door of the Northrup King Building, all the way up to the 4th floor, and look for my work in Studio 402!


  1. When I get in a rut, I try something completely different. I got tired of photographing people, so I spent a weekend hiking and shooting birds. It was a challenge and a change, and no, it didn't make any money, and nobody cared, but it helps you learn things and brings you back to what you love.

    1. Thanks for writing, Fred! I think you make a great point. Sometimes, as artists, we get so caught up in what we are doing that we forget to take a step back and remember why we love it. All the details, the worry, the perfecting, the planning, the wonder... it can cloud your ability to let your passion truly shine.

  2. Wholly fucking shit balls. I can relate 100% lately and it's keeping me from creating. I took 6 large oil paintings to Goodwill this week. And threw out 40 lbs. of sketchbooks. It cleared space for something new. Without the feelings of insignificance and self-doubt, there would be no success. Strangely, I hope the fear in the pit of my stomach to make art never goes away. Then I'm done for. Apologies for not coming to your shows Val, I'm one of 'those' people right now.

  3. Val, that was heartfelt and I read your words and saw me in them! Focus on the journey not the destination! Ryan is absolutly right and inspiring! Wish I could go pick up a Ryan at Target....oh wait, he probably thought of that and it's in the works! Haha! YES you can make a career out of being an artist-head up-put out positive vibes into the universe! You know every morning I say to myself, 'I live in a thin, strong, healthy body!' 'Abundance is ALL around me!' 'I am grateful for 1.,2.,3. Things!' Saying this does a multitude of things: it is positive affirmation (I am a believer in what you put out, you get back-MAKE IT GREAT! Next gracefulness is a true key to keeping your eye on the prize and staying focused. Now that I came 'out if the closet' with my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis and struggles I would like to share with you how gratefullness made such an impact on my recovery. After realizing I was numb from the waist down, lost my job, didn't think what I wanted in my future was attainable I went and volunteered. I volunteered at Pathways in uptown and answered phones and helped people who had a variety of disabilities get scheduled for their holistic treatment classes to help them on their journey to health and wellness. I began practicing gratefullness and soon I realized that I didn't have it so bad. Being around the strength of others who had equally or worse challenges put things into perspective and gratefullness is what allowed me to rise above it all and gave me the mindset that I can do absolutely anything I put my mind to and then I created my Image Consulting business. I'm saying this because in life we all get into our heads and start hating sometimes what we are most good at but taking a different approach to our thought process sometimes shifts things to allow us to see it differently. For example by societies standards I have a disability and I could choose to look at that as negatively. However, being on the journey I realized to take out the 'DIS' and what I have now is 'ABILITY' a special gift of being able to help others make those small changes on the outside to feel better on the inside, such a gift! YOU have the gift of transforming thoughts and feelings by looking at your art! It is beauty, strength, independence, creativity, and so much more! You have impacted me and so many others so hold onto that! I'm inspired by your art and the beauty that lies beneath the surface. I have bad days and get down on myself and my business and every time I think about what I am grateful for it makes me smile! Your art makes me smile and I'm grateful you take your paintbrush and create life on your canvas! Continue making you brush strokes and mark on life and there is not a doubt in my mind you will succeed! Xo

  4. Valerie, I feel like you and I talked about this exact topic earlier this week while I was staying with you. I really hope you know that what you do is truly amazing. Even if you don't always believe your art is beautiful or good enough, just remember that anyone who owns a Valerie Carpender Original is extremely lucky! Personally, I have always admired your work and aspired to be as good as you someday! You and your art inspire me! Don't be so hard on yourself because you are your own worst critic. I wholeheartedly believe that the world sees the beauty in all your work even when you see "not good enough"- I know I do. You are brilliant, Val! I am so proud of all you have accomplished and everything you strive to achieve. I believe you can do anything! Keep up the good work and keep your chin up! Love you! Xoxo


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