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Rae Missigman

Published:

As I step into the studio this morning, the sunlight hits my table and stirs something within me. The rays of light dappling my workspace are a joyful reminder to start fresh. There is a rhythm here now, one more tranquil than all those years ago. I am happy in this place, both in life and in art.

I have always loved the idea of being a maker. Pulling something from within my core and watching it unfold onto paper or canvas seems like a force much bigger than what I am. I never tire of the surprise that I feel when the color and texture of a piece start to come to life, a tiny bit of myself embedded into the art. Now it seems simpler, easier even, to put myself out there without fear of judgment. But the art I share with the world today didn’t always come with such a peaceful tag attached to it.

I used to be lost in my own artistic skin. I was afraid of everything—self-doubt, judgment from others, even the act of moving forward. My expressive energy was being wasted on trivial fears that I now know have no place in a creative’s heart or mind. My art was born from a place of great tragedy. I spent years working through the darkness of personal trauma to get to a place of light in my art. Looking back, I remember it being a great struggle to convince myself that it was okay to take my time getting there.

For years, my art was little more than a series of humble marks, a disguise for the words that lay buried beneath them. Dot after dot, line after line, I let the unwavering sadness seep out of me and onto the page, counting each mark as it was made. Some days I could not stop—I wouldn’t let myself stop. Hundreds of deep cut lines etched onto the page burying the declarations that I couldn’t bear to read aloud. I was broken, and it was through that simple act of counting that I felt my heart loosen to the idea of healing. Black ink littering sheet after sheet in the simplest of notebooks. What started as a diary of unanswered questions soon became a record of my faith moving forward.

Even now I hesitate to call what I was creating an art form, but I suppose in its own way it was. I had calmed my ravaged heart by making art marks and, after a time, those marks slowly transformed into stitched lines. Messy and scrawled, these new marks were a progression in my art. I was no longer enslaved to the mark-making sadness, but I still leaned heavily on the act of counting to calm the emotions that railed within me.

As my heart slowly began to mend, I felt like a traitor, moving on from the art that kept me sane during a time of great loss to the art that I knew deep within I so desperately wanted to create. I craved color and beauty, yet I was stuck in the words and marks that made up my own narrow path of creativity. But I was lucky. I was surrounded by family and friends that were a driving force in pushing me to look past those fears and instead focus on the act of creating.

I wasn’t free of self-doubt overnight, and I was certainly still afraid of moving forward, but I had come to realize that what I needed most was belief in myself and the courage to trust my own art. I was evolving, and it made sense that my art would evolve, too.

I remember at that time that I was like a moth to a flame. I wanted to make every kind of art. I began to dye fibers, hook rugs, make colorful ropes, weave, stitch, and paint. I was starving for something new and unfamiliar and dove headfirst into a dozen different mediums. I would submerge myself into an art form, educating myself along the way. I was drawn to patterns in particular and began collecting objects as a means to study them. Color and pigment became my obsession, and I began amassing a collection of hand-dyed fabrics, ribbons, and yarns. I loved texture and examined how this interesting component could alter even the simplest works. I was moving so fast that I hardly realized I was changing as an artist.

I continued to explore different art forms for years. I sold my creations to small boutiques and enjoyed the humbling routine of creating something from the ground up, but I was still growing. I worked out of a small corner of my tiny living room for years. I, like many creatives, found my art creeping into every nook and cranny of my home until it felt like a colorful explosion in every room. I needed more space.

As life would have it, my family was growing at a pace equal to that of my shifting love of art forms. I blinked and we were a family of seven moving into a home that offered me a small room to call my own—a long-awaited studio that would play a huge role in once again helping me to adapt as an artist. I began to feel a tug in a new direction and found myself setting aside my desire to create with fiber and textiles, instead reaching for my newly collected paintbrushes. Something in the art world was ripping at the seams of my heart and was begging to be explored.

At the time, I could not have imagined the joy that painting would one day bring to me. I felt as if I had spun full circle and landed right back in the midst of self-doubt. I knew little to nothing about mixed media, but one thing remained the same—my crazed energy to unearth everything I could about this new art form. I sifted through the accumulated knowledge, cherry-picking from all the things I had learned until I discovered a sudden and profound solace in art journaling. I had finally realized a way to dismiss that feeling of being a traitor as I left behind the art that had made me whole so long ago.

I stood in the middle of my new studio and my mind whirled. I was in a new place, studio and mind alike, and I felt this huge sense of relief as I looked around at that empty shell of a space. The possibilities flooded through my mind and ignited a sense of passion that felt both foreign and familiar. I wanted to fill this new space with all the things that would make creating a simple and peaceful process, and I wanted to recognize myself in it all.

So, I gathered tools that felt right in my hand, turning to paper and canvas and paint more than ever, and I curated a collection of containers that spoke to my heart—old, well-loved and worn—and then I filled each one until overflowing with brushes, pencils, and chalks that I had collected over the years. I laid bare each window, allowing every sliver of natural light to flood into the room.

I carefully subdivided the room into smaller areas with accompanying stools for painting, stitching, and letter-writing so that I could spend time at each craft without having to tidy up after a day of making. I hunted for every green plant that I had ever loved and perched them all within my view. I organized and brought order to every nook and cranny of this new studio. I counted books and baskets and bottles of ink as I stacked and sorted them, once again finding consolation in an undemanding act. I had come so far from that tiny nook in my living room to this beautiful light-filled place.

“To live a creative life,we must lose our fear of being wrong.” —Joseph Chilton Pearce

Looking back, I see how well-matched my art and space were, growing together in form and function, evolving into something bigger, brighter, more peaceful. My path as a creative has been a roller coaster, but each up, down, and loop has counted for something and has made the ride worth it. There were times I struggled to make anything at all and other times where the art seemed to flow out of me in giant waves. And I was constantly pushing myself to absorb more. I practiced and experimented, and I failed. I had big and small accomplishments along the way. I made lists of goals, and I worked hard to have each box that I ticked off mean something to my artistic mission. I needed those art marks to matter.

I lift a tattered notebook from the bottom of a drawer and set it on the table. Sunlight dances on the cover, and inside, inky marks blanket the almost imperceptible words beneath them. It has been a long time since I wrote those words. As I turn the pages, I realize that I am a different artist today. And I know that while my art is deeply rooted in a place of loss and learning, it has finally flourished into something I am content to share with the world.

As I step into the studio this morning, the sunlight hits my table and stirs something within me. The rays of light dappling my workspace are a joyful reminder to start fresh. There is a rhythm here now, one more tranquil than all those years ago. I am happy in this place, both in life and in art.

I have always loved the idea of being a maker. Pulling something from within my core and watching it unfold onto paper or canvas seems like a force much bigger than what I am. I never tire of the surprise that I feel when the color and texture of a piece start to come to life, a tiny bit of myself embedded into the art. Now it seems simpler, easier even, to put myself out there without fear of judgment. But the art I share with the world today didn’t always come with such a peaceful tag attached to it.

I used to be lost in my own artistic skin. I was afraid of everything—self-doubt, judgment from others, even the act of moving forward. My expressive energy was being wasted on trivial fears that I now know have no place in a creative’s heart or mind. My art was born from a place of great tragedy. I spent years working through the darkness of personal trauma to get to a place of light in my art. Looking back, I remember it being a great struggle to convince myself that it was okay to take my time getting there.

For years, my art was little more than a series of humble marks, a disguise for the words that lay buried beneath them. Dot after dot, line after line, I let the unwavering sadness seep out of me and onto the page, counting each mark as it was made. Some days I could not stop—I wouldn’t let myself stop. Hundreds of deep cut lines etched onto the page burying the declarations that I couldn’t bear to read aloud. I was broken, and it was through that simple act of counting that I felt my heart loosen to the idea of healing. Black ink littering sheet after sheet in the simplest of notebooks. What started as a diary of unanswered questions soon became a record of my faith moving forward.

Even now I hesitate to call what I was creating an art form, but I suppose in its own way it was. I had calmed my ravaged heart by making art marks and, after a time, those marks slowly transformed into stitched lines. Messy and scrawled, these new marks were a progression in my art. I was no longer enslaved to the mark-making sadness, but I still leaned heavily on the act of counting to calm the emotions that railed within me.

As my heart slowly began to mend, I felt like a traitor, moving on from the art that kept me sane during a time of great loss to the art that I knew deep within I so desperately wanted to create. I craved color and beauty, yet I was stuck in the words and marks that made up my own narrow path of creativity. But I was lucky. I was surrounded by family and friends that were a driving force in pushing me to look past those fears and instead focus on the act of creating.

I wasn’t free of self-doubt overnight, and I was certainly still afraid of moving forward, but I had come to realize that what I needed most was belief in myself and the courage to trust my own art. I was evolving, and it made sense that my art would evolve, too.

I remember at that time that I was like a moth to a flame. I wanted to make every kind of art. I began to dye fibers, hook rugs, make colorful ropes, weave, stitch, and paint. I was starving for something new and unfamiliar and dove headfirst into a dozen different mediums. I would submerge myself into an art form, educating myself along the way. I was drawn to patterns in particular and began collecting objects as a means to study them. Color and pigment became my obsession, and I began amassing a collection of hand-dyed fabrics, ribbons, and yarns. I loved texture and examined how this interesting component could alter even the simplest works. I was moving so fast that I hardly realized I was changing as an artist.

I continued to explore different art forms for years. I sold my creations to small boutiques and enjoyed the humbling routine of creating something from the ground up, but I was still growing. I worked out of a small corner of my tiny living room for years. I, like many creatives, found my art creeping into every nook and cranny of my home until it felt like a colorful explosion in every room. I needed more space.

As life would have it, my family was growing at a pace equal to that of my shifting love of art forms. I blinked and we were a family of seven moving into a home that offered me a small room to call my own—a long-awaited studio that would play a huge role in once again helping me to adapt as an artist. I began to feel a tug in a new direction and found myself setting aside my desire to create with fiber and textiles, instead reaching for my newly collected paintbrushes. Something in the art world was ripping at the seams of my heart and was begging to be explored.

At the time, I could not have imagined the joy that painting would one day bring to me. I felt as if I had spun full circle and landed right back in the midst of self-doubt. I knew little to nothing about mixed media, but one thing remained the same—my crazed energy to unearth everything I could about this new art form. I sifted through the accumulated knowledge, cherry-picking from all the things I had learned until I discovered a sudden and profound solace in art journaling. I had finally realized a way to dismiss that feeling of being a traitor as I left behind the art that had made me whole so long ago.

I stood in the middle of my new studio and my mind whirled. I was in a new place, studio and mind alike, and I felt this huge sense of relief as I looked around at that empty shell of a space. The possibilities flooded through my mind and ignited a sense of passion that felt both foreign and familiar. I wanted to fill this new space with all the things that would make creating a simple and peaceful process, and I wanted to recognize myself in it all.

So, I gathered tools that felt right in my hand, turning to paper and canvas and paint more than ever, and I curated a collection of containers that spoke to my heart—old, well-loved and worn—and then I filled each one until overflowing with brushes, pencils, and chalks that I had collected over the years. I laid bare each window, allowing every sliver of natural light to flood into the room.

I carefully subdivided the room into smaller areas with accompanying stools for painting, stitching, and letter-writing so that I could spend time at each craft without having to tidy up after a day of making. I hunted for every green plant that I had ever loved and perched them all within my view. I organized and brought order to every nook and cranny of this new studio. I counted books and baskets and bottles of ink as I stacked and sorted them, once again finding consolation in an undemanding act. I had come so far from that tiny nook in my living room to this beautiful light-filled place.

“To live a creative life,we must lose our fear of being wrong.” —Joseph Chilton Pearce

Looking back, I see how well-matched my art and space were, growing together in form and function, evolving into something bigger, brighter, more peaceful. My path as a creative has been a roller coaster, but each up, down, and loop has counted for something and has made the ride worth it. There were times I struggled to make anything at all and other times where the art seemed to flow out of me in giant waves. And I was constantly pushing myself to absorb more. I practiced and experimented, and I failed. I had big and small accomplishments along the way. I made lists of goals, and I worked hard to have each box that I ticked off mean something to my artistic mission. I needed those art marks to matter.

I lift a tattered notebook from the bottom of a drawer and set it on the table. Sunlight dances on the cover, and inside, inky marks blanket the almost imperceptible words beneath them. It has been a long time since I wrote those words. As I turn the pages, I realize that I am a different artist today. And I know that while my art is deeply rooted in a place of loss and learning, it has finally flourished into something I am content to share with the world.