Monday, September 26, 2011

Taking Flight

This past week I started meandering through Kelly Rae Roberts' mixed media technique book, Taking Flight. I've owned the book for quite some time now, but I've discovered that it takes me a while to warm up to using new art books (or online art classes!) that I purchase.  But now I'm finally reading away.

And . . . I love it.  I love it because Kelly is so real and honest and open about her story.  I also really love the techniques she shares, of course, but it is her writings about her life that really are the most amazing part of the book.  As you may know from my other blog, I think that sharing our stories has immense value. 

If you don't know much about Kelly Rae Roberts, she was employed a social worker for her early professional life and was decidedly not artistic.  So she thought, anyway.  But when she turned 30, she began to tune into her artistic desires more, and which eventually led to a total life overhaul.  Now she's a super-successful mixed media wonder woman, so I imagine her first tentative artistic experiments went well.  :)

I identify with so much of Kelly's story.  Like her, I followed the path that was expected of me -- I went straight into college after high school, then on to grad school, and then dove into the miasma of job-seeking.  Except . . . I wasn't ready for college when I graduated high school.  And I didn't really want to study what I went to grad school for.  But I didn't know what else to do, so I caved to the external pressures of my parents and society and did what I thought was the right thing.

Except that it wasn't the right thing for my heart.

Now, after 10 years of floundering through higher education, mostly fruitless job-seeking, and a terrifying battle with disordered eating, I feel like I'm where Kelly Rae Roberts was when she first began to investigate art.  Earlier this year, I began my own artistic explorations, and it blew my mind and heart wide open.  Suddenly, my eating disorder had no hold on me.  Neither did depression.  I didn't dread each new day.  Instead, I couldn't sleep because all I could think about was making art.

It was amazing.  Miraculous, even.  Completely unlooked for, but completely needed.  Making art helped make me whole.  At least, that's what it feels like.

So that's why I love Taking Flight -- because it reminds me of myself.  And because it gives me hope for where this art-making adventure might lead. 

Plus, Kelly's techniques tutorials are really excellent.  I'm mostly interested in her background techniques, and yesterday I tried out a few of them on a teeny, tiny mixed media piece.  Not only that, but I also painted the face of the girl in the piece for the first time ever (instead of drawing the face on a separate paper and then Mod Podge-ing it onto the substrate).  Here is the finished product:

A girl & her chickens
A Girl and Her Chickens

I think the words need a little more definition, but otherwise I'm very pleased.  So exciting!  I both love trying new things, and am terrified that said trying will lead to failure.  But mostly I love it, and it helps me to grow both personally and artistically.  

Has art (or some other creative endeavor) transformed your life?


  1. I know exactly what you mean about not being able to sleep because you are thinking about art. I am the same way!! I will wake up in the middle of the night with a new idea or color scheme and then struggle to get back to sleep :) I am not new to art. I've been drawing since I could hold a pencil. When I was very little I wanted to become an artist. I wanted to wear a little baret (sp?) a long coat and paint (clearly I had no idea that artists don't really dress that way). I just never persued it. I was actually interviewed by an art school when I was 15, but I still didn't take it seriously. Now that I have a career that I love (I am an ASL Interpreter) I have found art again. I didn't know I could paint until June of this year and then I found mixed media and I was hooked. All those years of making things out of construction paper for people and saving this ribbon, or that scrap of whatever finally has a purpose! Not sure I'd ever quit my day job, but I love seeing where I can take this. I"m so busy learning more and more, I am a total art Junkie! :)

  2. Yay for art junkies! That is such a healthy and awesome addiction. :D Thanks for your thoughts, Julie!


"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King