Beth Meadows

Lists

So here is what I want to write about:

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1. MY ARTWORK

For some reason it's become hard for me to sit down and write an artist statement, so much so, I didn't include one in my last show. I think it's fine to do without one if it's not coming easily, but I'd still like to share the backstory of my artwork, and it would be nice to do that informally here.  For example, I envision posting a photo of a painting and then making a list of all the things that influenced it, as opposed to writing out a small and formal essay (aka an artist statement). I like lists. I like them a lot. (See: This post)

2. TRANSPARENCY OF JOY & PAIN

I've been thinking about the potential disconnect between my social media account and Real Life and hope writing can bridge that gap.

I try not to relay negative things on social media because I don't feel like it's the best place for that. So I keep it light (instead of telling you how often I think about giving up making artwork or how many panic attacks I've had about money. You know, that kind of thing). 

At the same time, while I know deep in my heart that most people are also only putting their ***Best** on social media, it can be such a hard place to be in because we can't not compare ourselves to others. If we don't see the hard things in others' lives, we start to wonder if and why we are the only ones who are unhappy/ poor/ lonely/ fill in the blank. And I don't want to contribute to that either. On multiple occasions, people have come up to me in Real Life and told me I must be doing so well because that's what it looks like from Instagram. Oh, brother...

So I'm here to tell you, that just ain't true. My life is equal parts joy and struggle. Yes, I am doing well. And I am also prone to fits of panic, and a lot of other fun things. 

3. ENCOURAGEMENT

Through sharing challenges, struggles, fear, panic, frustration, etc., etc., my hope is that I can offer encouragement to others who are pursuing something they love or frustratedly daydreaming about it. We're all in the same boat here, the boat-of-not-knowing-what-the-heck-we're-doing (#illustrationidea). Yes, it can be wonderful to pursue a dream. Yes, it is also really painful. 

I deeply want to help artists, or anyone with creative endeavors, to jump the hurdles that are undoubtedly in front of them by sharing my experiences. 

4. INSIGHT AS AN ARTIST

I've had a little baby spark of a desire to start a lecture and How To series for artists and recent art grads in Knoxville. I'd love to talk about things that I've learned in my decade+ since school in hopes that others can bypass a lot of the pitfalls I faced.

I'd also like to share what I think Knoxville needs to help support artists and encourage artists to view themselves as savvy business people from the moment they cliche-ly throw that cap up in the air and saunter into the Real World. And just maybe, that insight could apply to people in other cities, too. 

I want to start developing some of those ideas here. 

5. MY GOALS

I'd like to talk about goals I have, which may be no fun for anyone else to read, but it will hopefully help me think through some things. Maybe you can help me with them?

6. STORY TIME/ MIXED BAG

I want to write for fun and for the challenge of it. I want to put words together, and I want to form sentences and paragraphs with those words to talk about intriguing things I come across in my life. They're all a part of my internal thought process that can well up in me when I'm in my studio in a very overwhelming way.

I wonder if writing will help tame that beautiful stallion with ADD (aka my brain) and feel like methodically filing away a mound of papers piled up on the floor of my mind. It's a tall order, but I'll try it.  

Just Try it On!

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Do you have thoughts about things you want to do that won't go away?

Pushing away little nudges at my heart has been the story of my life for many years because of the nature of my work life and pursuit of art. The more I wanted to succeed in these two areas, the more I had to say No to any other thing that might take away my focus.

If I've learned anything about being an artist with a day job, it is this: If I want to say Yes to certain things in my life, I have to say No to way more, even good, fun, delightful things. Doing well in one area means staying focused and cutting out distractions in other areas. I get it. Sometimes begrudgingly, but I get it.

But about six months ago, I made the choice to start walking away from my day job (and its all-consuming nature) to see if there was a way to say Yes to some of the things I had put on the backburner. While it was difficult and scary to move away from that job, I knew in my heart it was time, so it was weirdly also very easy.

Over the past several months, to process all of the things I had put on the backburner, I wrote them down and brainstormed about each one. I ended up filling up an entire legal pad and started another. Apparently there were a lot of things I had pushed to the side.

Here are some examples of what came welling to the surface:

  • Write (Blog) consistently* (doing this now yo)
  • Take dance lessons
  • Teach art classes*
  • Buy glass dishes with lids and prepare meals for each week*
  • Go on a real vacation*
  • Go on so many vacations
  • Find an ocean and sit by it for many days*
  • Play soccer*
  • Learn how to make jewelry (soldering, metalworking)
  • Make a body of artwork & court some galleries outside of Knoxville*
  • Get together with (fill in the blank with 30+ different people)* 

As you can imagine, a legal pad-sized list is pretty overwhelming, but I keep reminding myself to take it one step at a time. This whole process has taught me two powerful things:

1. I want my day job to allow me to make art and to do as many things on my list as possible. I don't want to take work home with me on nights, weekends, or vacations unless, I am the owner of that business.

2. Finally going after dreamy or lofty goals demystifies them which is necessary to figure out which are worthwhile. The greatest gift of working through my list is realizing the items I thought I wanted to pursue, but in fact, really do not want to do.

I'll give you an example:

As you saw on my list above, I put down Teach Art Classes. I've thought about it for such a long time, BUT... Almost as soon as I sent that message out into the world, I realized I didn't want to do it at all. Surprise!

The thing about dreaming, which is all in your head, is you don't start out thinking about the work. The time. The effort. And if it's a business idea- networking, marketing yourself, coming up with prices, preparation, running errands, keeping the books.

So when a few people expressed interest in the classes, I responded. When I didn't hear anything back, I quietly backpedaled... and then ran in the opposite direction. I was so relieved. A dream I had dreamed for so long: Dead on Arrival. 

It was a little embarrassing, I admit, but the silver lining outweighed that feeling. Now I can check that puppy off my list. Actually, I checked off a whole page, and that's a gift. On to the next thing...

Sidenote: This doesn't mean I will never teach art classes, just not right now.

So after this happened, I was talking to Dale Mackey of The Central Collective about this notion of trying and quitting (gasp). Was it ok that I did this? And she tells me that if she has, what she thinks is a great idea, she will just go for it. If it loses steam or doesn't work out or she loses interest, she can allow herself to quit thinking about it and move on. And that's ok!

I think we all agree that this method may not be appropriate for every aspect of life, but as an entrepreneur, as a human who develops many interests, isn't it fun to think of all the things you can pursue with this mentality? It allows someone like Dale to dream uninhibited, which is a beautiful thing because, while some of her ideas don't come through, the ones that do are pretty brilliant, and our community reaps plentifully from her endeavors.

One last story:

There were these beautiful shoes at Style of Civil a few years ago. I had an art show there, and each time I'd go in, I'd stare at them, pick them up, hold them. I couldn't afford them so I wouldn't try them on until the owner said, "Let me get your size. Let's see if they work, and if they don't, you can quit thinking about them."

And so I tried them on. And they were extremely uncomfortable. And it broke the magical spell they had cast on me. I was free! 

(Please click here for poignant illustration).

What a delight to receive from a boutique shoe store owner such sage advice that has helped me live my life better. It's the main reason I'm writing again. Writing has been nagging me for so long and I now have the time and energy to turn toward it and say, "Let's do this. (Please don't embarrass me.)"

So I leave you with these words if something good has been tugging at your heart for a while:

Just try it on** (while also being safe, responsible, and caring for others).

 

 

*I have done these things or started the process. Three cheers for Lists!

**Name that movie