My Biggest Flaw As An Artist


Nine years ago today I started Dirty Footprints Studio on a free Blogger account.

I simply had a yearning to write about my creative process and a sincere hope to meet some interesting people.

I was working as a full time art teacher in a public elementary/ middle school by day and my nights were for throwing clay around in a co-op studio tucked deep in the dusty desert.

I still get goosebumps remembering the sun sets over the mountains as I threw my wobbly masterpieces. I’d think to myself that this is what Georgia O’Keeffe would have felt like…if she was a potter. Hands dripping with red Earth as the sky bled from tangerine, to luminous opera, to the darkest of merlots.

Though this is where I pause and take a long sigh.

Because it was right around this time: Spring, when new life begins to tickle the cactus and the cottonwoods — that something inside my heart started to feel restless.

My husband Hansel and I moved to Arizona only two years prior and before then we were living in Cleveland, Ohio where I was working in clay for almost a decade with very little professional recognition. But in Arizona, almost immediately I had galleries inviting me to show my work and my vessels were selling faster than I could make them. It was exciting and exhausting all at the same time.

So when the threads of my heart started to tug in a different direction, of course I thought it would be ridiculous to walk away. Things were just starting to groove.

But how I felt inside didn’t match up with the outward success I was actually receiving. I wanted to focus on painting again – my first and true love.

So I emptied a kiln, packed up my glazes, and gave my blessings to the first person on the co-op waiting list. One of the two bedrooms in our tiny apartment was waiting as my painting studio.

Now I would spend my days being the only art teacher in a public school of close to 1000 people, then go home to a view of a mundane parking lot, my beloved paints, and a computer screen.

My new studio wasn’t as romantic as the co-op out in the desert, but painting made my cells sizzle again and that was confirmation enough that this decision was the right one.

To be honest, this is how I always navigate my life.

I have volumes of stories just like this one — where I follow my heart, things move in a bright direction and then damn it, that restlessness sets in again.

A friend of mine once said that my life is about making sand castles. I think she nailed it.

What I’m not telling you about is the agony I go through as well. All the self doubt and the months (sometimes years) of trying to convince myself not to listen to the calling in my heart — that it’s illogical — doesn’t make financial sense – that I’m not being responsible — that of course I’m going to fail.

Then something always cracks inside me. Always. I don’t know how. I don’t know why.

But all the ways I beat myself up become prison bars and the only way to break out is by following my truth.

So I do it and I feel free. And every time I create something new thinking this is it! I’ve found it — my one and only path — and then sooner or later the cycle begins again.

I used to think this was my curse. My greatest flaw. My downfall as an artist and most of all a person.

I used to think that something was wrong with me because I had a million different art jobs instead of one strong, seamless career.

But I don’t believe that shit anymore.

Sure, I still beat myself up every time the restlessness sets in again. Though now I know that this too is who I am. This is how I roll.

This pattern is my power — my strength — my greatest asset as an artist, a person, and a Soul.

My journey through Life is a spiral that takes me deeper and deeper. It’s not some long ladder taking me higher and higher.

When I started Dirty Footprints Studio online nine years ago today, I had no idea that it would become a business — a livelihood.

I had no clue that two years later I would be quitting my full time teaching job and going on to teaching amazing women in gorgeous places like Mexico, Sedona, Washington, and Florida!

All I wanted to do was share my creative process and meet some interesting people.

The thing that surprises me the most is that I still am doing what I set out to do — and loving every minute of it!

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