Saturday, December 11, 2010

Art, Adoption and Fear

Solstice Night
colored pencil

I know the winter solstice is the one we're close to but this piece represents a summer solstice night from years ago and I'm putting it here because it reminds me of the inner work we do as artists (it also reminds me of the warmer temps - I'm not liking the freezing weather we've had in FL lately). The painting was done from a photo I took in my friends yard in Taos NM during our last meeting of The Artist's Way group.

Artist's don't get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working. ~ Stephen DeStaebler

Artist's deal with insecurities all the time. First there is the fear of the blank canvas. There's the fear of putting our work out there, the fear of ridicule or rejection, the fear the gallery director isn't going to like the work, the fear the director won't even look at the work, the fear of spending resources on show entry fees and not getting into the show, the fear of not being able to sell the work, the fear of getting into shows and then not having the funds to deal with the framing, shipping and cartage fees required. Then, even after getting into a show and winning an award, there is the fear surrounding being able to produce that quality of work ever again.

Producing art, showing the work and working as an artist takes stamina, tenacity and facing fears. The basic thought behind all of this fear is "I'm not good enough". Producing art is very revealing. When we paint we put a piece of our soul on the paper or canvas. If you gave the same photo to 20 different artists and asked them to make a painting from that photo, you would have 20 different results. The subject might be the same but every artist's soul is different and the art reveals that.

For me living as an artist takes introspection, meditation and courage - a willingness to be seen. Maybe all these years of learning to be an artist has helped me in living as a natural mother from the closed adoption era. As mothers we were told we weren't good enough to raise our own children. The only reason being that we weren't married. The 2 children I did raise are proof enough that it wasn't true. Finding my worth in the art world/outside world coincided with finding my worth as a mother. I believe finding ways of dealing with fear in creativity also helped me in dealing with the grief that comes with adoption.

It's hard to face that grief. It's hard to live with it every day. It was also hard to start the search for my daughter. Some people were afraid for me. They were afraid that I would get hurt, either by what I found out or by not being able to find her at all. I was afraid too. Searching online in the reunion registries was a simple way to start so that's what I did. I spent years doing that with no success. Finally I got the courage to make the call to Catholic Charities. The pain of not knowing was far greater than the fear of what I might find. I had to know something.

A lot of life as an artist and as a natural mother is about facing fear. The latest hurdle for me was facing the fear of talking about adoption. It still comes down to overcoming the feeling of not being good enough but I'm the only one who creates that feeling so I can change it by thinking a different thought. Now putting the art out there doesn't seem nearly as difficult as it used to and talking about adoption is getting easier. Although the people who used to worry about me during the search phase are relieved, they're now worried about me talking about it. They worry that I might get sick again (last year I was dealing with the big "C" but I'm fine now) As a matter of fact, it wouldn't surprise me at all if the pain of decades of hidden grief was the cause of the illness to begin with. So.... no worries. Painting is fulfilling a need to create and being honest about adoption is fulfilling a need to be free. And, as facing the fears in the art world seems to have helped me in dealing with adoption, adoption has now found it's way into the art.


  1. Gorgeous!

    Sorry it took me forever to get back to you. Thanks for being willing to allow me to make a post displaying your work. Would you be able to send me files of the art you'd like to share, along with anything about the individual pieces or yourself that you'd like me to include in the post?

    Thank you <3

  2. I am so in tune with the fears involved in art. I have to continually remind myself that I will do it anyway, even if I don't show/sell/get acknowledged, etc., just because I have to do it anyway. The pain of not doing it is greater than the pain of rejection or even of being ignored.

    I imagine this is a very similar issue involved in searching for a child who was relinguished. My guess is that to most natural mothers, the pain of not knowing is worse than any news you may get. The need to know overcomes any fear of possible rejection or other negative outcome. You just have to do it anyway, in spite of the risks.

  3. Wow... I just read Amanda's blog entry and saw the picture above and went immediately to your site and bought the Litho!! The I came here and... Wow.

  4. Well I have to say wow too! Thank you!