Have You Decided?

Have you made the most important decision you’ll ever make as an artist? 

When I took the chance of a lifetime at age 28 and enrolled in art school (and plunked down $25,000 to do so) I thought that was the most important decision I needed to make. 

A photo of an original oil painting on panel of a still life painting of red and white flowers.
Surprise Sunday Bouquet, 16″ x 20″

It wasn’t. It was a move in the right direction, but it wasn’t the most important decision. 

At the end of my first year of art school, I was thinking about quitting. 

I called family members and filled with pity I lamented that I just wasn’t good enough and I was thinking about walking away from school. I didn’t think I had what it took. I wasn’t seeing the results that I’d hoped for. I saw myself as less than the other students and the teachers.

I thought even after a year of painting and drawing full time with constant instruction and direction, I still sucked. Ugh! Why did I think I could do this?

I looked at the paintings of Rembrandt, Bouguereau, Sargent, and many others and just couldn’t see that I would ever come close so I might as well give up.

Why bother? 

One person I spoke with was my brother. He had zippo sympathy for me. He’s not exactly the compassionate type. He said, “I don’t understand what the problem is. It’s just like everything else. The more you do it, the better you’ll get.”  I argued that I was doing it a lot and not getting better enough to which he replied, “Well, you gotta just do it some more.” Not exactly Confuscious, but 100% true and I knew he was right. 

You see we overestimate what we can do in a year and we underestimate what we can do in three years.  The tendency is for us to STOP SHORT when we don’t see those results in the short amount of time we’d hoped to. 

When you really get underneath this though, what’s happening is that we have a belief that we’re not good enough to do it. This is the real fear that’s driving us to want to stop short or give up.  My brother had a belief that I could do it if I just stuck with it. 

The most important decision then is to decide that YOU ARE good enough and you will DO IT! You’ve got in you what every other artist has had. No other artist was somehow more magically ordained than you (okay except maybe Michelangelo-lol).

Once I decided that I was going to stick it out and see it through, I didn’t magically believe in myself overnight. It would take another year for me to start to build more confidence and believe in myself.  This BELIEF that I was good enough would get tested by hurtful criticism from instructors (not constructive criticism) and rejections of my work from the student shows.

Still, I had decided I was sticking it out and not quitting. My transformation into an artist was cumulative and slow. Bit by bit, day by day, I stayed committed and kept practicing. 

I understand the power of NOT stopping short! I had to choose to not stop short for 3 years. Finally, by year four I was seeing results that were at least closer to what I’d hoped for. Still far from what I’d longed for, but I felt proud of myself. 

I also started getting my paintings accepted into shows and even awarded. This just fueled my belief even further.

Imagine if I had stopped short and quit!

There would be no Kelli Folsom artist and teacher today. To think of that! Oh, I’m so glad I didn’t stop short. I wouldn’t be filling the world with beautiful art. I wouldn’t be inspiring and teaching hundreds of people online. 

Did I know what all I would be doing now back then? Of course not. I had no idea the impact I could make on others’ lives with my art and teaching. NONE. Am I Bouguereau? Far from him, but I wasn’t meant to be. I’m meant to be Kelli Folsom. I’m meant to do my part and so are you.

I thought I wasn’t enough. You need to know that YOU ARE ENOUGH. 

When you give up, quit, stop short you not only rob yourself of your destiny you rob others who need your gifts and talents as well. Do you think no one needs them? Who are you to think that? Use and nurture your God-given talents and let the rest take care of itself. 

There’s only one decision you need to make: That you are enough and you’re seeing it through. 

One of my other God-given talents is helping build up other artists. For the first time ever I’m offering a 6 month customized private Mastermind Mentorship Program. I long to help artists go beyond technique and help them reach their goals and achieve artistic confidence. 

You’re meant to be more than just a student, you’re meant to be an artist.

If you’re ready to believe that and make that commitment, I invite you to join me in the Mastermind Mentorship Program. Go here to learn more about it and sign up here (https://artlifewithkelli.com/mastermind-mentorship/).

Space is LIMITED

There are only 5 spots left!

The deadline to sign up and receive a special free online workshop with me is August 21st. 

A photo of an original oil painting on panel of a still life painting of a peony ginger jar and oranges.
Peony Ginger Jar and Oranges, 9″ x 12″
A photo of an original oil painting on panel of a still life painting of brass, red, and lemons.
Dutch Red and Lemons, 12″ x 16″

Love in Light, Kelli

2 thoughts on “Have You Decided?

  1. Kelli, this is a fantastic blog article. Thank you for so genuinely revealing your personal struggle — it is encouraging. Your demonstration for the OPA Convention was very, very helpful. (I don’t know how you can paint and talk at the same time). Do you mind, once again, explaining what lighting system you use in your studio? (I, also, paint with an east light).

    I’m checking out your community of artists. We need each other — especially in these difficult times.

  2. It’s so refreshing to hear words of encouragement when your struggling with your work. To know that other artist have the same struggles on there journey as an artist’s somehow makes me not feel so helpless.
    Thank you

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