By Nakisha VanderHoeven
It’s possible that people who see me now think I am just lucky. Maybe I know the right people or was in the right place at the right time. While some of my journey involved a degree of luck, most of my success today was achieved after traveling a long, hard road.
I tend to be very forward looking now, and I believe that is the key to much of my success. But this wasn’t always the case. I used to beat myself up constantly for my mistakes, perceived or imagined, as well as dwelling endlessly on lost opportunities, chances not taken, things not said.
My current art work is joyful, child-like, and unabashedly focused on beautiful things. I think many of my clients today would be surprised if they were to see my early work, (done in my twenties).They’d find a much darker art, inwardly focused, lonely and abstract, but yet not lacking in humor.
Some have said that it takes time for an artist to find your voice. Actually, I don’t think an artist ever stops evolving in their art or life, but maybe it’s the confidence and belief in the work they do that takes time.
As a young child I believe I was hyper-sensitive. This sensitivity made it difficult for me to make friends or relate to others. I was paralyzingly shy and generally teased or ignored by others. I related best to animals, especially dogs and horses, and withdrew often into a fantasy world of my own. Much of this world manifested itself in my drawings. My earliest memory is of drawing, and I never seem to be without pen and paper to this day.
Well into college, I still had trouble relating to people, being social, and being sure of myself. Being tall made me especially awkward and compounded my insecurities. I was perpetually unhappy and tended to focus on the negative. I spent most of my time working, studying, and trying to make sense of the people around me; people who seemed to be effortlessly happy, social, and outgoing while I was so miserable.
Somewhere in my mid 20s this began to change. Though still awkward and shy, I began to care less about what other people thought of me and think about more important things. I realized that being constantly negative only hurt myself, and made a conscious effort to break the bad habit of always seeing the worst. I had to learn to celebrate the good things in life. I also continued to work constantly on my art, painting, drawing, writing, and even showing my work in coffee shops and galleries. I made great friends along the way who helped me come out of my sensitive shell.
This new attitude began to creep into my art. I started making things I wanted, not what others encouraged or expected of me. I began to accept that I was not a ‘freak’ (a label I had been taunted with since my childhood), and even if I was this wasn’t a bad thing! I tried new things, met new people, and got out into the world despite sometimes being almost too afraid to just leave my apartment.
I made myself get out. I made myself do new things. I soon began to feel more comfortable in my own skin. I also learned to trust my instincts, not just in my art, but in business and life as well.
Right now, I am where I have always wanted to be! This is both wonderful and frightening, but not a kind of fear that stops me from moving forward. I make art full time from my home, and am amazed that people from all over the world have responded to my new creations with love and enthusiasm. I’ve never forgotten all the hard work it took to get here, nor have I lost my appreciation for those who have found me through my art, and for those who continue to support me in doing what I love.
What have you accepted in your life that took time?
Just accepting that I am who I am, and I may not fit into anyone’s ideal definition of fine artist, illustrator, business woman, or person. I am still very sensitive, but that is who I am, and that is not a bad thing.
What do you appreciate most in your life?
I appreciate the Internet, and the fact that complete strangers from all over the world can find my work and let me know what my art means to them. Being able to work from home is my idea of heaven! I am grateful to all those wonderful people who buy my art work, but even if I never sold another thing, I love that my work is out there and people can find some joy or meaning in it.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life?
Just being where I am now is my biggest achievement. There were many times in my life I never thought I would get here.
What is your not-so-perfect way?
No way is perfect, everything is a journey, and it’s better to look forward rather than dwell on mistakes or imperfections. Find joy in the work you do.
How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
I love doing my own thing’? I take risks, and I don’t always succeed, but I learn and grow from it. I love being in my studio every day with a list in my head of what I’d like to do that day.
Please visit my website at bluedogrose.etsy.com