The Greats Weren't Great

Lately, I have been beating myself up over my talent, or really, my lack of talent. 

The gallery space I used for SPEAK was housed right next to Bobby on Drums, a collaborative collection of Artists of all mediums. Bobby on Drums hosts local Fort Worth artists that I adore and have followed from art show to art show in the hopes of glimpsing their work. These guys are MAD talented. 
Well, one night during install, the Bobby on Drums guys were working on a huge wood project out back, and as I took out the trash to the dumpster, I wrestled within my soul this question: "Should I introduce myself?" 

Man. I put up a fight to try and talk myself out of talking to them
Scout, it is late! Go home. Go to bed. 
Why would you even want them to know who you are? 
You are moving. Stop tying to make friends with everyone here! 

All of this floated through my mind. I looked at my brother and said "should I?"
And he said... well he said nothing. He just shrugged. 
BUT, that shrug was all I needed. 

I threw out my pride with that trash bag and marched myself right up to the guy and spat something out along the lines of:
Hi-I-am-Scout-I'm-currently-next-door-and-I-keep-seeing-you-outside-and-you-are-really-amazing-and-I-admire-you-and-blah-blah-blah-blah. 
I'm sure it was all one run-on, uneducated sounding sentence in which I tried to tell them about me and that I am not as creepy as I was coming off in that moment. 
Thank God they didn't catch the creeper vibes I was positively radiating. 

The guy was easier to talk to that I ever imaged he might be and we chatted about my gallery and what he was working on. 
Then, another dude walked out of their building as he heard us chatting out back. He introduced himself as Jay and I repeated myself a lot to him. I told him I love art and I love Fort Worth and Bobby on Drums was familiar to me. 
Jay was quite nice and responded well to my creepy looks and words just like this last guy and then Jay said "would you like a tour of our studio?" 

At these words, all desire to be any form of "cool, calm and collected" left me and I yelled "WOULD I!?!?" in the most forceful and passionate voice ever.

See, an artist offering to show you their workspace is a very vulnerable and intimate gesture. 
A creative workspace is where your greatest ideas are born. It's where your frustrations end up on a canvas, where the emotions you feel get painted out, where tears and paint mix. It's where your brian is open and free, where your heart is running around like someones 2-year-old high on sugar. An artist's workspace like this is the most personal thing we, as artists, have. It is where we love our work the most and hate our work the most. Our dirty laundry is (sometimes literally) out there for you to view when you see where we work. Everything is out; visible and messy. A creative's workspace is like a glimpse into the soul and heart of the artist. There are completed pieces that will never see the light of a gallery, and some masterpieces, no matter how brilliant to the outside eye, will never be "good enough" according to their creator.
The offer for you to enter into their private world is the biggest sign of trust they can give you. I hope if a creative ever gives this opportunity to you, you take it. Take the time to see their heart in a room. You will not regret it. 

As Jay showed us each artist's work space, I felt more and more in awe of the talent that was hidden in these rooms. Their BATHROOM had beautiful, cast off works painted on the walls. The hallway was filled with graffiti tests and canvas pieces thrown about like trash, almost as if these guys didn't know how good they were. 

We finished the tour in Jay's personal workspace. 10 foot masterpieces lined the walls, one of which featured a local Fort Worth Musician I had the pleasure of seeing recently. Jay showed us a few works he was proud of and then directed our attention to a piece that took up and entire wall, floor to celling and wall to wall. "This is a piece I am working on for a gallery on Saturday." - By the way, it's Wednesday night when this is happening - "I started it this morning and have been working on it all day." 
My jaw dropped.
Jay had, in eight hours, created an oil painting masterpiece that I could only ever DREAM of creating in my LIFETIME. His skill is undeniable and so evident in the works before us. Yet, he cast my compliments off so easily. Hmmm. 

As we walked out of the building, a piece I saw in an art show last October caught my eye. I gushed "I didn't know this was a Bobby on Drums piece! I saw this at the Fort Works Art show and I stared at it FOREVER. It drew me in and captivated me! I felt like I couldn't breath when I looked at it! Who is the artist of this one?" 
"Me"
Oh my gosh. 
You are THE Jay Wilkinson. 

I was speechless.
I was just given a tour of the Bobby on Drums space by THE Jay Wilkinson, an artist I have admired for YEARS. 
AND
To make it even better, Jay Wilkinson let me look in on HIS PERSONAL studio and workspace. 
I felt honored and very pleased, like I had been let in on a secret! 
As we said our goodbyes, Jay promised to attend the opening night of SPEAK and I pretty much fainted right then and there. 

Even though so many amazing things happened that night, a seed of doubt was planted in my head and it bloomed all too quickly. 

I began to have this nagging feeling that what I was doing was not any good. I wasn't actually talented. Even my absolute best was never going to be anywhere close to Jay's cast off works and "failures."
While I don't regret taking the time to meet these guys and tour their workspaces, I do regret the feelings I let grow in my mind. 
Doubt. 
Self pity. 
Incompetence.
Worthlessness.
It became a huge struggle for me. 

I've been praying my way out of it, and then, after a week of doubts, The Lord said, "Scout. Take action. How can you get any better at your craft if all I you do is wallow in pity? "
Well Lord, to be honest, I can't. 

To quote Macklemore: "The greats weren't great because at birth they could paint. The greats were great because they paint a lot."  

So, I gave myself a challenge: Each day, I will create three new pieces that help me grow as an artist. 
I'm working on improving my sketching skills. So I am going to sketch.
I want to be a better watercolor artist, so I am watercoloring my sketches. 

Three works, each day.

I have little post cards I have been sketching and painting on. I'm not fully sure what I will do with them yet. Maybe mail them to random people. Tape them up like 'zines? Eh. I'll figure something out. 

Maybe I'll post photos of my sketches and we can all see how I improve over time!

Scout Harrell1 Comment