It took me a long time of soul searching to figure myself out… even though it’s something personal I decided to post this on my blog because I have come to the realization that I been an artist in denial.
I have always had a talent for art but never taken it seriously. Although it was encouraged by art classes, somehow I always felt that people didn't take it seriously, so I never took it seriously either. I felt like to be successful in life you had to have a prominent career like my family always said and art by no means was a “traditional” career.
So I went to law school, the most miserable years of my life, most of my friends knew how unhappy I was and it was obvious I would much rather do art than sit in a boring lecture for hours studying a useless constitution that got changed constantly by the president (Chavez) ; my notebooks were covered in doodles and drawings, it was the only way for me to be able to sit though that hell, my friends loved to browse through it and look at my art/ fail attempt at making notes, and when the teachers would make comments like “you are studying law because you like it” they would all turn and look at me. I would skip class and sketch or drink coffee with my friends; and to add to my frustration I would always get A’s in the tests that I never studied for… giving more reason to my family to keep pushing me towards being a lawyer. I was/am good at it, I don’t deny that, and I would have been a great lawyer like my brother is. But to what point? For the name? For the money? Yeah I would have been making buckets of money but being unhappy and miserable… is money that important? Is it worth loosing yourself, your happiness over it? Sometimes I look back and think “oh I would be so rich now if I had kept my law studies” but then I remind myself of rich? What is rich? Money or a happy and fulfilling life doing what you love being at peace with yourself and surrounded by people you love?
After I had a couple months of therapy and numerous interventions by my friends and sister I decided to give art a GO and went to SCAD. Those were the happiest years I had yet in the back of my mind was always the pressure to go a then “traditional career in the arts” AKA advertising/graphic design, I couldn't just do painting like I wanted, no one said no, but I knew that’s not what my family wanted me to do with my life and that made me constantly doubt myself. Whenever I asked for advice no one would help and with the pressures of family to move back to Venezuela, I caved and moved back leading me to square 1. WORST mistake ever… If I was unhappy before, this time I was miserable because I knew better, I knew how happy I had been in SCAD (maybe I embellished my time there in my mind because it was when I felt truly free), I knew I definitely didn't belong back in the same college, in the same lectures, in the same sketching in order to get through them. I went into a major depression, when I say MAJOR I really mean it.
With the help of my sister my family decided to let me do a couple of classes in fashion design… obviously the fashion illustration was my best class, my little doodles looked like paintings, and I was happy painting them. But again pressure started and I would constantly hear “painting little dolls is not going to get u anywhere in life” “you are losing your time painting little dolls” etc. So we ended up back in square 1. I hesitated once more but I got my stuff together and applied to SCAD again and the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.
We all compromised, I was allowed to attend the Ai but only if I did a bachelor in something other than art where I could make a living out of someday. I did fashion merchandising, where I graduated magna cum laude and with honors, and to my surprise I actually liked it. I was able to pick some classes I was interested in exploring and I obviously excelled at my artistic related classes like Graphic Communications, Photography, and Styling for Photography. I am glad I learned with a great teachers like Mr. Millman, Mrs Rousso, and Mrs. Colussy who pushed me out of my comfort zone and where always there for me to push me to excel. Later I worked with Mrs Rousso on the graphics of her book “Fashion Forward” a guide to fashion forecasting, where I found that yes, if I need it I could make a living as a graphic artist like my family wanted, so I have to thank them in a way for that.
Later on my best friend convinced me to take cake decorating classes with her; it was a ton of fun discovering that food is materials I could use to create art too! So we took the 3 wilton classes for cake decorating and I followed their steps for some time until I started thinking “hmmm this is 3D art, why not treat the fondant like a blank canvas?” that’s when I started once more painting but in a nontraditional way, painting with edible paints on cakes! I have so much fun doing that and I still do… in case anyone is interested (lol wink wink)
I took a couple of classes in Illustration but I ended unintentionally back in square 1. I was applying to art schools for masters but kept finding that since the Ai I went to was not regionally accredited and I was not accepted to any of them, so I was finding once more the pressure to do something other than art. I was accepted to study media and communications at Lynn, but I was hesitant at first. In my painting class with Mrs. Botscheller she made a comment that made me wonder, she told me something about education, bettering yourself, succeeding, something along those lines that I took as a sign for going to the masters; I think now that maybe she was not talking about the masters but more along the lines of my art career (I’ll have to ask her one of this days).
So, I went into my masters in media and communication thinking it was like my graphics class at the Ai, practical things we can use for finding a job and that would teach us to succeed in this media/web/ world, but I was disappointed by what I found. The classes are theory packed philosophical, classes mean for what I later understood as a molding into a PHD (most of the students in the class are following into the PHD) so classes were not so much as a “go out in the world and work” but more intellectual someday teach in a college (since they now require PHD’s). Some of the classes seemed to be busy work of reading articles and writing a bunch of words about it, I even did a PowerPoint presentation on “hair”, who cares about hair? Why am I not learning important things and practical things about social media, web marketing, web design, etc? Even my husband thinks that the classes seem like a brain was when he sees me constantly reading articles and writing papers on the same topics over and over and the way the teachers attacked students when they think differently. The point is I found myself highly unhappy, in a state like I was when I was in law school with the homework I didn’t believe in and drowning the amount of useless work, and I realized one day looking for notes that my notebook is covered in sketches and doodles.
But the turning point was the memorial day weekend when I decided to turn off my phone and take a me day, I sat on the balcony at 11 am with my watercolors and acrylics to paint, when I saw my watch it was 8pm! The day had passed by and I was so happy, so content with what I was doing I didn't even notice.
That has forced me to look deep into my soul, into my life, something I have always been running away from. I have always though my art is not good, not good enough. That is something my husband pointed out to me the other day, he loves all the things I paint, all the sketches, all the mindless doodles I do, and it’s something quite shocking to me. Even though people encourage me to take classes, tell me I have a gift and they wish they could do what I do, and say “that’s pretty” there was always a subtext, like it’s not good enough for me to sell and make a living out of (or maybe that is the vibe I get), putting a damp on my ability & creativity.
But when I see my husband mesmerized by what I paint as a doodle makes me re-think, maybe I have it all wrong. Sometimes I see people post their art in blogs or sell it, and it’s not perfect & they don’t seem talented, but somehow they are making a living with it and having a blast, then why can’t I? The last time I was with my parents they saw my unhappiness once more and started to encourage me to buy more art supplies and expand my artistic abilities, maybe try setting up a site to sell my things, but somehow deep down I feel: what if my things are not good? What if no one buys them? What if …
That is why I sat down with myself and had a long look into my soul, my past, my fears and came up to the conclusion that I just need to stop letting the opinions of others affect me and paint for me, not paint what other people might like but what I like/want to paint, it might not lead anywhere or it might lead somewhere, and at this moment I don’t care where it leads. I am blessed to have the support of my family and specially the full emotional support of my husband, my soul mate, someone who sees me for who I really am even though I might not see it myself, someone who has proven to know me better than I know myself.
So I have come to the realization that:
Art has been my life, my escape, my comfort, it is what helped me cope with misery, and it is who I am…
“My name is Luzmaria Palacios and I am an ARTIST”