I don't think you can shut the artist off in a person. I know for me, that it's painful to not be creating something. It's an impulse, a drive.
I kind of always knew I would be some sort of an artist. It was just a knowing that this person was sitting in me waiting to create.
I started my college career not even knowing that there were drawing pencils. I went on to earn special talent awards every year in school, even when I studied for a few semesters in Italy.
I knew that I had talent, but I didn't have confidence in myself.
Life had me in survival mode and after 4 years of being a fine arts major, I left school.
A few years later, I mentored with artist Joseph Norman. He was my first drawing teacher and always told me I was his best student. I didn't believe him, but he seemed to mean it.
I learned a lot from him and I can see how he has influenced my work (and my appreciation of Al Green- he played a lot of him in the studio).
Through working with Joe, I was able to observe the working life of an artist and I basically chickened out. I had a severe anxiety disorder and social anxiety and I just froze with fear and insecurity.
I always seemed to have jobs painting in houses. I even painted the walls in the school in Italy between semesters so I could buy food.
I eventually got my contractor's license and began a long career in the house-painting world.
Eventually, I began experimenting with paints to achieve different effects on my apartment walls, and the faux finisher/decorative artist within me emerged. I did a stint at RISD in their decorative painting certificate program, but I felt confident (gasp!) that I already knew what I was doing and that I didn't need to be there because I was already a professional in the field.
Over the years, I've had the opportunity to work with many creative home-owners, business owners, and designers. I actually became confident in my skills. I'm a damned good painter.
But I'm also a tired painter. I tried to hang up my paint brushes for years, but the requests for work kept coming in. I had to go through some drastic measures (like working in retail, getting a small car instead of a van) to stop myself from accepting jobs.
Over the years, I've always had a studio wherever I've lived. I've painted a lot of furniture for customers, and have always had it in the back of my head that I would pick up my artist brushes and start painting again. I just wasn't working for me. There were images in my head that wanted to come out, but I was unhappy with the results. I found myself getting stuck in my head. Ive always been a representational artist. I could not grasp how to make abstract art. I'm speaking of fine art- doing special finishes on walls and furniture came easy, but there was something about creating a painting that made me question myself and my ability.
When I came across acrylic pouring, I knew immediately that I had to explore it.
It ties in so many aspects of my 30 plus years of painting. And it takes me out of my head!
Well, mostly anyway, because there is a lot of planning and note-taking involved.
I am so happy to be painting and creating in this way. I feel like I'm finally making art again and for that, I am very, very happy.
I know that this work will evolve into something else- something new for me, and I'm very excited to be able to share this work with people. (I'm also very happy to be painting in my pajamas and slippers.)
I'm very grateful for all of the interest and the buyers of my artwork.
Doubts and insecurities still come up, but I know in my heart that this artist in me HAS to create and she's really feeling it lately.
Thanks for joining me on this journey.
I still occasionally put on my painters pants, so if you feel I might be the right person for your arty project, I'm willing to explore it.
Here's what I did this morning.
Kimberly D. Testa
Artist, paint addict, living and working in RI.