Enjoying the Process • by Angela Daniels
An Artist Family
Sharing my connection to art is not easy for me. I can be very silly and outgoing at times but I tend to be a little shy when people ask about what I “do.” I come from a long line of Artists with a capital “A.” If I remember the stories correctly, my great-grandparents owned an art store in Minneapolis many years before I was born. My grandmother was a professional graphic artist for a time before she suffered what seemed to me, hearing the stories as a child, an almost romantic series of mental breakdowns that seemed so perfectly suited to the story of a tortured artist. My own mother raised me at a potter's wheel and I don't think she ever undertook a new artistic endeavor (tatting lace, Japanese brush painting, pysanky, you name it) that she didn't perfect with such exacting detail as to scare me off from that particular discipline forever. Even my little brother developed into an inordinately gifted musician, an artist of his own craft. And me? I was the practical one, exasperating for my inattention to detail, frustrating my family for my lack of patience for skilled arts. By a fairly early age, I realized I was going to be the one member of my family who was not going to make a living in a creative field.
Creating Opportunities for Creativity
By high school, I did manage to find myself in a few art classes. I even won the design award for my large senior class. But I didn't believe in myself. I went to accept my award alone—didn't even ask my mom to come. I felt like a bit of a fraud. THEY were the artists, I was just pretending.
In college, I didn't take a single art class at all. I focused on a degree in English and wondered what on earth I would do when I graduated. To fulfill my need for a creative outlet, I secretly did all the arts and craft projects for my roommate's sorority requirements. But I knew art was not in my future. I was still too impatient, still lacking in the ability to make something that looked the way it did in my mind.
After college, I was hired to be a corporate trainer. It was official, I was a corporate girl. The first woman in my family to do something so non-creative. When I look back on my years as a trainer, I realize I was still creating opportunities to be creative. I colored in my overhead projection presentations while my co-trainers didn't. I spent time making pretty, calligraphy nametags for employees who attended my seminars. I volunteered to update business bulletin boards and managed to sneak in creative elements and design. But I didn't think of it as Art.
Embracing my Crafty Side
When I decided to become a stay-at-home mom after the birth of my son, everyone told me I'd never last a month. “You're a workaholic,” they reminded me. “What will you DO all day?” they wondered. But I knew. I was finally going to do all the creative things that had been building up on an internal “creative things to do list” that I hadn't even really realized I was creating in my imagination. I suddenly felt a strong desire to rectify the creative dry spell I had been experiencing leading up to my late twenties. I was going to make creative things for my baby. I was going to decorate a nursery, I was going to make beautiful scrapbooks for our family. In short, I was going to fully embrace something that my Artist family didn't really understand. I was going to be CRAFTY and I was going to try to do it unapologetically and just for the fun of it. I wasn't going to worry that I didn't feel I was cut out for Art.
And that's what I have done. Sure, my workaholic side quickly kicked in and I went from craft hobbyist to being “on camera talent” for a two-year stint with a scrapbooking reality show. I also did work for a large crafting company for 4 years as a brand ambassador. And, yes, that was me on Craft Wars this summer. So there's still a lot of that corporate girl/workaholic left in me, but I have also been able to come to terms with that side of me that was once in danger of becoming dormant- my creative side. I'm still not sure that I can call what I do artistry and I never call myself an Artist but my life is filled with creativity. I have learned that, while I may never have the patience for fine arts, I can embrace my creative spirit and share my passion (with a little humor) for what I do with people who, just like I once felt, say “Oh. No. Not me. I am not the creative one.” I believe we all have that in us. We just need to take let go of the big expectations we have for things like Art and learn to enjoy the process. That's what I'm finally learning to do.
To learn more about Angela Daniels, visit angeladaniels.squarespace.com.