My Personal Struggle with Art and Coming Full Circle

Last Updated on November 27, 2023 by Ava

Braille by Ava Fails

My journey as an artist has been uncertain, insecure, sordid, and honestly, painful.

My Dad is quite talented in art. He can draw and carve among other things. Despite multiple attempts, he never quite figured out how to turn his passions into income streams.

Once I showed the same potential, my parents began to nurture my artistic creative side when I was 10 years old.

I didn’t really impress myself until I was about 15 when I drew a rose while looking at a picture of it on a bookmark. I started drawing all the time.

The more I drew, the more I felt like this was my purpose. I was supposed to do art, and all of my goals moved in that direction.

Angel after Albrecht Durer drawn by Ava

At 18, I started transfer courses at the local community college. There were 1 or 2 art courses I was able to take, but the rest would have to wait until I went to a university. I focused on getting all the other stuff out of the way, so when I got to the university, I could concentrate on art…I did that for the next 3 years.

Let me pause to say that my education is a long, insane tale that perhaps I’ll share in another post although I don’t know why I would.

Anyway, 6 years later, I was accepted to Campbell University after a failed attempt at working for a few years to save money. Here I was, a sophomore at 24 living in the dorm when most people my age were 2 years post-graduate out in the workforce making a life.

5.5 years and a transfer later, I still had no degree.

Still don’t.

Back into the world of dead-end jobs, I went. Only now, I had around $50K in student loan debt.

There are so many facets to this story, but I believe the catalyst of all of this abounding failure was because I just couldn’t focus for the long-term. I just didn’t have what it took to push through to the end in spite of the obstacles I faced. For me, these obstacles were insurmountable.

I stopped taking medication for A.D.D. at age 12. Back then, there was ONE med for A.D.D., and it was believed that medication (Ritalin) had the opposite effect after puberty.

My alternative was Prozac, and it was so controversial at the time that my mom didn’t want me to take it. So, I didn’t. Over the next few years, I learned how to deal…or at least how to deal in the sense of not disrupting others. I don’t think my ability to focus ever evolved or improved. I just learned how to not seem like I was unfocused.

writing is bleeding by ava fails
One of my poems.

I started writing.

I focused heavily on writing because I was halfway decent at it. Not to mention, it seemed that I could produce written pieces a lot faster than I could produce a piece of art, and I could certainly sell my writing much easier.

Also, the writing was mine alone. It was effortless to produce something original whereas, with art, I was always copying someone. While I could draw anything on this planet that I could see, I didn’t draw well from my head.

I didn’t know how to develop what I was seeing in my mind onto paper. It never looked the same. It never looked right.

For essentially, the next 20 years, I drew when it served my purpose like when I needed a gift for someone or something like that.

In the last year, I have learned about so many opportunities for artists.

When I started college, I felt like in order to make money with art, I had to go digital. I suck at digital art. The tools that would allow me to connect with my art via a computer in the same way I can with a pencil to paper are more than I can afford. But now…I see so many traditional artists creating their place in art regardless of their medium.

This rekindled the desire in me to revisit my art.

I happened upon a video on YouTube, and I’ve talked about this a bit on my podcast. It was the first studio vlog by Catherine of Katnipp Illustrations. Catherine is a young illustrator who runs her own shop in the northeast of England. It’s all so quaint and charming.

Anyway, in this video, she was creating stickers to sell in her Etsy shop. She drew them with a red pencil in her sketchbook and went over them with a darker pencil once she achieved the look she wanted. As I watched, something clicked, and I thought to myself, “I could maybe make some of this stuff in my head look the way I want using that technique.”

So, I started sketching, and things started happening.

One of my first sketches from my head.

I’ve drawn the first things out my head EVER.

I’ve started selling designs online.

I’ve figured out how to convert my line art into digital files even with a crummy picture.

I have hope.

I have plans to begin broadcasting the creation process.

Sometimes, I feel like I’ve wasted all this time when I could have been developing my talent to a higher level. Then I think, but I’ve essentially spent a massive amount of time developing my writing. Now, my abilities are multiplied. I’m really interested to see what

A recent piece that was inspired but not copied!

God does with that.

I have not arrived.

I never create anything that I’m completely happy with. I am a typical artist.

At its core, art is a tenuous sacrifice given unselfishly by necessity. It’s bleeding. It’s vulnerable.

Art heals.

Art is how we deal with the crap of this world. It’s how we self-soothe. It’s how we stop the bleeding.

So, I’m ecstatic to be in this place, but I’m also a bit scared of screwing it up. All I can do is do, and hope that in doing, I can be.

I hope that my struggle with and about art is over. I hope this is a reconciliation, and that from it, amazing things happen.

For years, I’ve been writing how I wanted to do something amazing, and how it’s eluded me. Perhaps this is my chance. I’m not looking for fame, I’m simply looking to be fulfilled, and to fulfill my purpose somehow through this.

About a year or so ago, after much pleading, God revealed my purpose to me: “Help as many people as you can whenever you can for as long as you can.”

There will be mistakes…but I will live out the rest of my life trying my face off to be in a place where I can do just that.

6 thoughts on “My Personal Struggle with Art and Coming Full Circle”

  1. Well I love it; there is feeling in that image and a beautiful metaphor for what you’re doing. You can’t be touched by the arrows; you’ve won with lots of hard work.

    Could it be that writing fulfilled the need to put pen to paper, as in art? Writing is an art form, to me, as well as a way to communicate.

    You’re sooo talented!

    1. Thanks, Sandy!

      Writing is my voice. I don’t even bother with a telephone. I’m so awkward in conversation with people that I don’t know well, that I’ve stopped trying. haha However, I can write to anyone! Writing is therapy, and just so many other things to me. Art can never replace it, but then writing can’t really replace art either. I think the two compliment each other well. Thanks for your kind words!

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