After a year of blogging anonymously I agonised over the decision to “go public.” It was then I realised that anonymity was not only my shyness, it was also the fear of not being good enough. Self expression and openness was totally discouraged by most of my teachers as self indulgent, navel gazing, trite, cliched, passé, twee, and every other put down you could imagine. The surprising thing is that an art school education fully endorsed this too. Art school criticism can be very harsh and too many of us learn to play it safe there in order to get through the course and get out with our degree and our dignity intact!
Later as a teacher I could see first hand the way students were often pigeon holed early on in their studies and were there to be educated out of their bad habits. Exploring your heart and soul in creative work or aiming to be successful as an artist seemed to be reserved for a select few. While I also love “art” at that level, there has to be more space for other kinds of imaginative production. I now believe that creativity is a tender flower which thrives better in a child like world of wonder and play, than in the narrow strictures of academic criteria.
Has this changed? Recently I told a friend how art college far from the liberation and exploration you might imagine can be tough especially for young women. She told me that her daughter who completed her art school education a few years ago has never fully recovered from the loss of confidence she suffered as a result of “only being good enough for a design course” as opposed to “fine art!”
One of the many positive aspects of a blogging life is the culture of generous feedback. The community are both personally creative and supportive to others. Because the web has been a positive space to share, and engage with other creatives, I eventually took the risk of going public and was gradually able to reclaim my face, my name and my creative space.
On a recent visit to a new local museum, I was astonished to find only two references to roles played by women; nuns who handmade stunning golden vestments for priests, and wives, cooks or maids and what they served up for dinner!! In years to come I think women’s creativity will be encapsulated by present day female bloggers who have given voice to a more diverse and liberated world view.
There’s something about the web which women utilise particularly well. It knits us closer together through daily connecting, we can exhibit our creative work within our own control and we can celebrate and share more of our inner lives. Delicate, feminine, strong, beautiful……..and downright exciting to be part of…..
From my post on Vision and Verb a global gathering.
What an excellent post!I studied textiles rather than fine art because I felt I wasn't 'good enough' – I didn't even apply, so it was entirely my own decision! I am now a painter, but it took a long time to find that confidence. I so agree with all you say, so well, about women and blogging (and I'd like to link to your post today).
Congratulations on coming out! The diversity of female bloggers always astounds me. We're everywhere, technology, business, food, fashion, politics… and everywhere else too. Love seeing you picture on Facebook now too. It means next time we meet it will be much easier to recognise you 🙂
Foxglove Lane says
I am happy now that I started to "come out" gradually as it has given me time to find my feet…..yes I agree it must have been a bit weird being hugged by a complete stranger!!!
Mary Pellerito says
Wonderful post. Your photos of the webs are breathtaking. I love how you wove words about blogging on the web with photos of the spider web. I thought about giving up my blog, but it is a creative outlet for me. Even if no one reads it, I love being able to weave words and photos (and videos and music if I want) together to express a thought, observation, point-of-view.
Beautiful. Yes it suits women somehow, this certain way of relating and brings out our natural encouraging kindness. It's such an exciting movement to be a part of 🙂
You Go Girl!! What a GREAT post!
and I meant to add …. i LOVE LOVE LOVE your webs!!
Kerry O'Gorman says
There is so much here I wholeheartedly agree with! I remember taking art courses and having ideas 're-routed' by teachers. I would come into the course excited and motivated, only to find my creativity stifled.
Blogging has afforded me the chance to put myself out there without feeling like I am being judged. It is my journal of my daily life and the things I love and things I create. It is simple and purposeful to me. When someone shares their love of what I'm doing, I feel kindred to them. Blogs make our world smaller and more intimate. Somewhat like the days of pen-pals. Do you remember that?
It feels safe here in blog land and I have met so many fascinating people, especially women who create and love what they do.
Just to further the point, I so enjoy your photos and thoughts from a place dear to my heart.
Donna@Gardens Eye View says
This is so true as females we are not celebrated in academia or in business or very few places. We have to fight for our self esteem. My dear friend was an art major and hated it because of exactly what you said here. I continue to mend mine and work hard to feel like I am worthy of praise I get. We have been so indoctrinated on so many fronts, but I continue to challenge these. Happened again in our recent elections. Felt like I was in another country as the attack on women was harsh. Thanks for this beautiful post!
elaine rickett says
Most of the blogs I follow seem to be by women, who as you say, seem to take to it easily.You can do your own thing and mostly no one is there to criticise. I love your second photo – that is such a complicated web.
Down by the sea says
I love the way you have brought both types of webs together. There is so much creativity to be found in many blogs and such a wonderful way of linking in with women from other countries.
A beautiful thought. I think that you are truly an artist… as is everyone who finds inspiration and acts upon that inspiration, in any format. I believe you are also right about the blogging community…. I often feel so connected to people I have never met. Loneliness and friendlessness do not exist in the blogging community and I am so grateful for that connection. Thank you for your beautiful photos and thoughts. I look forward to your posts because they take me back to Ireland, even for a moment. It is a wonderful gift you give me!
Well done, Catherine.Great blog.!
Some accurate and perceptive thoughts Catherine…and it brought to mind a fellow art student who, to the chagrin of his teachers, refused to study the history of art on the grounds that it would probably influence his work. Not sure what happened to him, but at least he was never pigeon-holed.
So to the images, all of which reflect this season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. But I can't help but feel that one would be enough (not a criticism – just a subjective observation!)even if every one else disagrees – and probably will.
PS Glad you like the tale of Le Plod!
Looking for Blue Sky says
Applauding your bravery here Catherine, as someone who is still semi-anonymous: writing creatives can also be put down fairly firmly – I remember a well-known columnist telling me that I "wasn't a proper journalist" in the 1990s…
But you should be very proud. I was stunned by the first post of yours that I saw and your blog continues to be a place of escape for me into a world of beauty and nature 🙂
These webs spin a magical tale. Love..love..love!
Annie @ knitsofacto says
I'm not sure I ever fully recovered my confidence after the way I was treated as an art student, and there still seem to be so many ways to put creative women down. In my case because I sound a bit posh and had been to a public school (my parents practically beggared themselves to make that possible) art was assumed to be just something for me to do before babies. And what is more something that I'd only chosen because I was a bit dim (I'm not, I also have a First from Exeter in a highly academic subject). It never seemed to occur to anyone that I might actually want to be an artist for real and should be encouraged and nurtured. And my teenage dreams of becoming a writer had been discounted in much the same way. You are so right to say that we now find support in the blogosphere that is often lacking elsewhere. And of course tellingly women bloggers outnumber the men.
Great post Catherine and as always your images are stunning!
Have you read Ken Robinson's book Out of Our Minds? I think you'd enjoy it. And his Ted talk 'Schools kill creativity' is here, if you don't know it. http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html
Foxglove Lane says
Annie, this has been a very significant post for me and I am heartened by not being alone in this! Thank you for sharing your experience here. I absolutely love this TED talk, I watch it regularly!! I pass it on to people all the time like you do yourself! Haven't read the book yet, will do! It's lovely to be connected and to be working along side you on the beautiful web:~)
My father, when he retired, went back to do a 'fine art' degree. Unfortunately he didn't complete it. You see my dad is what I would call a classical painter, landscapes, animals, the odd portrait just they tried to encourage him away from that into a different trend of abstract art. Now, I know my father is abstract but his art is not how he channels it. Same happened to me when I studied music when I left school. My tutor actually told me I wasn't good enough. My heart broke and I haven't sang in public since.
Beautiful post by the way! 🙂
As always a beautiful beautiful blog post Catherine. You know, because I am school/college late in life, I daresay it has changed a bit?
My course encouraged the heck out of me and pushed me to the creativity edge so to speak. I can't say that the teacher was always patting ,e on the back because there was mo constructive criticism than compliments but all of it made me work harder to 'be who I am' … I am, however, very caught up at the moment with the way our national schools do not encourage creativity in the younger minds (as we have four of them!) and cannot wait to volunteer next year at their school once I graduate….women have always had the upper hand when communicating so it makes sense that we outrank the males in blogging numbers. We have found our place in the world and lucky us…we have made so many like-minded friends xx
A very interesting and insightful post, especially for a female blogger still finding her way on this part of the web. There are so many wonderful creative women such as yourself weaving connections thanks to blogs & photo sharing sites that it has opened up new doors for self expression and finding like-minded audiences. It's just a pity that the support which can be found here doesn't extend to a lot of the sites frequented by teenagers….but I digress.
As always your photos are lovely and the second web is just amazing.
Keep up the good work.
a very insightful post. i know that i did not go into creative writing b/c of the feedback loop. I am glad that I went the avenue I did. It helped me keep my sanity but it was definitely something that i did not feel good enough to do and i was scared to grow into. Many of my friends did Art school and i heard lots of brutal stories.
thanks for leaving a lovely comment 🙂
Hey Catherine this is my first visit here….the name 'got me'…..so pleased you decided to 'go public' I always find 'anonymous' commenters frustrating. I want to 'meet' people and connect.
Great post and very interesting your experiences at college and your teachers attitudes towards self expression etc.
So pleased I have found your blog, your photos are a delight and the first pic in particular has pretty much taken my breath away.
It's a cool, damp morning here after a stinking hot day yesterday, your photos have me wishing for the colder months which I love.
Wonderful photo series. I especially like the 1st and the 3rd photo with the image composition, the details, the tones, the light … really good work!