My sister called me up the other day. “Anna,” she said, “I just saw your watercolors on Instagram. I don’t know why I hadn’t seen them before… but do you know what? Those are really good!" I stumbled to accept the compliment. Heidi was referring to a series of 6 x 6 watercolors I had sold to friends on Instagram to support my recent trip up to the Alaskan arctic. She went on: "You could make more and sell them online! It could become something!” She suggested I start by selling my work on Etsy and creating a blog to support it. I heard a lot of exclamation points in her voice-- when my sister wants something, she gets passionate.
As she went on in excitement, I hesitated. “Yes,” I thought, “I could do all that. But there are so many artists out there who are better than me!” All of a sudden, I felt like everyone who already had a blog and an online shop was miles ahead of me and I'd never catch up. Insecurities like those always seem to sneak their way into my head when I consider a risky creative endeavor.
You see, in the past, I have tried to imagine myself as one of those cool people with a hip blog, hoards of followers and DIY-everything. You know, the ones with perfect lives? As I look now around at my somewhat cluttered, one-bedroom apartment (we're in the process of moving, so boxes are everywhere) and consider my current state of joblessness, the comparison seems a little far-fetched. For one, I don’t own the greatest camera gear for which to document my oh-so-perfect life. For two, I’d generally rather buy a cute furniture piece at a good price at World Market than spend the time and energy to DIY my own. For three, I don’t have an amazingly clean white counter on which to photograph my organic farmer’s market produce. Not to mention the fact that, for me, those widely-read blogs usually leave a small, twisting knot of jealousy in my stomach. I certainly don’t want to create something that elevates me in the eyes of others and provokes envy and comparison.
That last point is mainly what I’ve been struggling against. What are the ethics of starting an endeavor like the one my sister suggested? Is it all just worthless self-aggrandizement? Will it, in the end, be of any lasting value? Essentially, my question is this: how do I create and sell my art and promote this project in a way that glorifies God instead of myself? I’ve come up with three ideas:
- If I’m going to do it, I should do it well. This thought comes from a blog post by my brother-in-law, Riley, who writes that we can worship God in our work simply by doing it with excellence. So, as I undertake this creative endeavor, I can honor Jesus by working hard at it.
- Show the messy parts. I’ve realized something about those “perfect” bloggers: they have messy lives, just like me. Sometimes, they probably have to clear away some clutter in order to photograph an object on a white, clean counter as a backdrop. Huge disclaimer: My life isn’t perfect, either. Rather than hiding that fact, I hope to write with an honest transparency that will allow me to relate to any readers I might have in our mutual messiness.
- Seek to inspire others to create. Often, when I shut my computer after being sucked in by beautiful blog after beautiful blog, I find myself comparing and despairing: “I could never do that!!” I hope that my blog becomes an inspiring catalyst to others who want to create something, but are anxious that it won’t be good enough. [[ Side note: A great example of a website that does this well is Tania Woods’ Ink Me Pretty. Her home page explains how and why she started her own design business. My favorite line is this: “I decided once and for all to stop comparing myself to others, stop saying ‘I can’t’ and frankly, put on my big girl pants and just DO it!” Her words and talent pushed me towards creating my own art. ]]
And thus, this blog was born. You might ask, “Why Line & Feather?” Well, I use two mediums to create my watercolor art: Micron Pens and watercolors. The “line,” then, alludes to a pen, while the “feather” represents a paintbrush. “Line” also evokes a minimal, modern feeling, while “feather,” I think, is a rather charming and whimsical word. I like a little bit of modern and whimsy in my life, so I think it fits.
One last thing: I reserve the right to try this out, and fail. I'm really going to swing for the fences, and I hope some of you stick around to watch. But if I end up with a foul or strike or whatever (I'm not the best with sports analogies), that's ok too. Because I know I'll have learned something by the end of it, and I'm pretty sure at least my mom will be proud of me for trying, and that's nothing to sneeze at.
Thanks for reading. More to come!