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Hey Hey Creatives! 🙂

Ufff… It was a year, wasn’t it? I wanted to release the last post of 2021 before the year ends… but I must admit that December felt very heavy for me, like never before as I recall so far. Intense months of work and deadlines, as well as insecurities about the future regarding all this situation we live in right now started to weigh on me and brought a feeling of burnout. I’m so absolutely grateful for all the amazing opportunities that came in my way but I needed to let go of some of them and just take a break (which is not always easy for me). I’m happy I did so because now, after spending some time with my loved ones in nature, I feel much better and can start 2022 with fresh energy 🙂 Taking breaks (with no guilt) is important.

I’m one of those persons who loves making reflections and creating plans. Looking back at the passing year and making a summary of both good and bad things that happened helps me to see the whole. I recall what I have accomplished, where I screwed up, what those experiences thought me, and how I can improve next time. It’s always about learning. It also helps me to see if I’m still on the right track. In this busyness of life, daily routines, and chaos around it’s easy to get lost or take a wrong turn on the way.

If I had to put a title on 2021 it would be something like “first times”. But instead of listing achievements, I wanted to share with you what those new experiences brought to my life.

Five realizations and lessons of 2021

  1. Consistency, patience and perseverance are powerful. So just keep going forward and don’t give up because it WILL happen one day. When the oportunities arrive to you, be ready.

Do you feel sometimes that you are just working and working, trying so many different things to get noticed and nothing seems to work no matter what you do? I’ve been there. Putting out one drawing after another and another, reaching out to people, trying different strategies on social media… and nothing. Until out of thin air… something. Literally, one event started this domino effect that I still can’t wrap my head around. Beautiful Bizzare magazine account on Instagram featured my drawing “Myshka” (I’ve always remembered to hashtag them on each of my posts) and this helped to put my works in front of many people. In a matter of a few weeks, I got invitations from five different galleries… (shock. even while writing I pause on this). But I think it’s because I was ready. Behind Myshka there are years of learning, trying, failing, trying again… I was constantly showing up for a few consequent years now, putting out artworks, working on my portfolio and proper website… I had things to show and they’ve seen I’m consistent. I’m not even close to “making it” as an artist, but something started to move:)

So my message to you will be just don’t give up. Keep showing up, keep putting out good works, keep learning and growing… Because one day when something happens and you get noticed, you will be ready and grateful to yourself that you did all this work before. Even if it seems that nothing is moving forward, it truly does. You are growing roots and spreading them beneath. Those are the foundations that will keep you grounded in the moment of your blooming.

2. Fear of success is real. Imposter syndrome too.

So… I have some new companions to my inner demons collection, yaaay…..

I didn’t even know that I have this fear inside of me. Fear of success… wait, what? It is supposed to be something good, something we all strive for, right? Yes, although there is BUT. For the first time ever my works started to get noticed broader and it was absolutely an amazing feeling. At first of course I was absolutely thrilled, jumping and dancing around in happiness. I called my mom with happy tears thanking her for always supporting and believing in me. But after putting down the phone quickly fear kicked in bringing me back down to earth. Shit… Now what? I need to create drawings for all those shows!! How the hell am I going to do that?! this inner pressure and anxiety suddenly appeared. I won’t be drawing only for myself anymore. I can’t just put it in the drawer if it won’t go well. Now there is a specific theme for each show, a deadline, gallery curators and collectors will see it, more people will see it and I need to deliver and maintain the level or even level up every time aaaaaaaaaaa! FEAR OF SUCCESS IS REAL. Together with it came Imposter Syndrome.

But the only way is forward, right? there’s no other option. So I’m currently learning how to deal with those new uninvited companions and sure I will be sharing with you how it’s going and what strategies work for me. What I know for sure, I will not let those fears stop me from keep going towards my dreams. Not anymore.

Meanwhile, if you read a couple of my previous posts you know that I’m big on the power of supportive self-talk and journaling… I wrote this in my journal while experiencing fear of success for the first time, and I often come back to it:

Stepping out from your comfort zones and leveling up is the only way to keep growing and getting closer to your goals and dreams. In 10 years would you rather regret doing something or not even trying? Each of us has a different definition of success and each version could be scary because it’s something new and unknown. Understand that those feelings are completely normal, it means that something special is happening🙂

 You are a unique individual. There is no person like you. Therefore you have your own, wonderful perspective and vision based on all your experiences and stories you lived. No matter at what stage of your growth you are, you have this special voice to share and people deserve to hear it. Even if you are not on the level you wish to be, every new project or endeavor will teach you something and keep moving you forward. Embrace your own journey.

3. Don’t wait for a perfect moment with no interruptions to create or until you “feel like it”. Flow with what you have available to you, including time.

This quote ringed to be sooo true this year

“Don’t wait for the muse. As I’ve said, he’s a hardheaded guy who’s not susceptible to a lot of creative fluttering. This isn’t the Ouija board or the spirit-world we’re talking about here, but just another job like laying pipe or driving long-haul trucks. Your job is to make sure the muse knows where you’re going to be every day from nine ’til noon. or seven ’til three. If he does know, I assure you that sooner or later he’ll start showing up.”

Stephen King

When you start to work more as a professional artist there’s no more “I don’t feel like drawing today”. Finishing the piece before the deadline becomes your duty and responsibility. I have always been a pretty slow artist, I like to resolve things on the page as I go. But I couldn’t allow myself to just chill and extend finishing the piece forever. So this year I’ve been trying to organize myself better, working on my productivity and efficiency as well as better pre-production so I didn’t have to stop too much figuring out things in the middle of the process. “Just show up every day and do your best” – it was my affirmation I constantly repeated to myself. I feel like those were be good topics to write about in the future as we artists tend to struggle with procrastination, time management, organization etc. etc. 😉

4. Community is powerful.

I can’t even express or thank enough to all the people who had helped me last year. I definitely wouldn’t do it without them. In the moment of need, they were there. For example, I’ve never shipped any original artworks overseas. I didn’t know how to protect them and pack everything well, what kind of shipping company to choose or how to fill in all the documents for Customs. My friends Ingrid Tussel and Olga Esther helped me to calm down my panic attacks and just explained generously step by step how to do it all.

I’ve been feeling very insecure about putting my works into galleries (amateur and imposter syndrome hello!). Erica Berkowitz, curator of Haven Gallery never treated me like some amateur. She understood that it’s my first time with galleries and patiently responded to all my questions and explained to me, for example, why each drawing needs a breathing space between paper and glass ( I truly didn’t know and framed my artworks wrong all this time).

Not even mentioning all the wonderful people I’ve met on social media… I can’t list you all, but your daily company in those lonely long hours, all those chats, exchanging experiences, doubts, struggles… I used to be a huge hermit and only those recent years have I’m truly starting to appreciate so much the power of community. And this artistic community is just amazing, so unique… We truly support each other genuinely, we are in this together.

All the people who generously shared their thoughts and experiences here on my blog, you are amazing. It is brave and vulnerable to share yourself with the world. Thank you for trusting me.

5. It’s ok to run at 60% not attempting 100% always

That’s something that I started to experience in late November and through the whole of December. I just couldn’t run at 100% anymore, but I had things to do and close, things that other people counted on and I couldn’t let them down. so I needed to accept that I won’t be at my best. Which is not so easy for me. As you may already know I’m reflecting a lot and working on myself so I know that I have this pattern inside of me… It’s softer now, but I used to see and do things in black or white. In this case, either I do things at 100% or do nothing at all, fall into numbness and depressive modes. Falling into extremes was one of my big problems. But the thing is that living from one extreme to the other either keeps you stuck or burns you out. So I’ve been learning to appreciate gray areas and embrace the feeling of keep doing things but at a slower pace and not feeling guilty about it.

“Token of Hope” – the last drawing of the year made for a group show “Little Big VI” at Haven Gallery in NY

Do you know this old Yiddish quote “Man plans, and God laughs”? Especially the last two years prove it to be true for so many of us… yet I can’t help myself! Making plans keeps me grounded and sets me in the right direction… I won’t make any super specific resolutions, rather general intentions or focuses to remember my priorities in the moment of making choices or distributing time, and later flow with that.

Over the years I find that filtering and getting to real priorities works the best for me. Instead of making long lists of things I want to achieve or do I try to narrow it down to no more than five. That’s it, the rest is a bonus. And then “just” working on focus, efficiency, productivity, avoiding procrastination, battling self-doubts and inner critics… yeah, topics for another blog post 😉

Here are my intentions and focus for 2022, and please share the yours in comments as well! I’d love to hear about it. This way we can keep each other accountable

1. Transition to painting

I love pencils, I truly do but I’ve never imagined I’ll stay with them for so long. I’ve wanted to learn oils since the very beginning yet somehow it’s been postponed and postponed.. mostly because I convinced myself that I need to master drawing first before moving to other, more challenging medium (atelier training style have a lot to do with that). When I think of my future projects I see color… I think I wouldn’t feel fulfilled if at least I wouldn’t try! Graphite is a medium I feel most confident with at this moment, so all the gallery works I’ll approach with it, but any time left (goal at least once a week) I want to spend on painting.

2. Writing more stories

Last year I focused my writing time mostly on creating content for this blog. But I’ve always dreamed about writing stories… I’m not very good at it… yet, and a bit scared (I realized that I’ve been finding excuses in form of other important things to write). So this year I’d like to devote more deliberate practice both to learning and actually writing fiction. There are concepts and characters chasing me for a very long time… I need to find a way to finally put them out into the world:)

3. Put more attention on Newsletter

This year I’ll try to add something new and once a month share with you 3 – 5 things that might be helpful or valuable for you. For example books or articles, I’ve read and recommend, podcasts episodes, audiobooks, quotes or curiosities I stumbled upon, resources that help me on my journey as an artist, writer, and just a human being:) Let me know if you like this idea!

4. Peacefulness

I still struggle with overthinking or overwhelming emotions. I easily get anxious when things start to pile up or when I don’t know how to solve something. During the last year, I’ve wasted a lot of energy worrying about what I wrote to important people for example, and why they don’t answer me back. It was the very first time when I have to communicate with professionals in this artistic field and it brought so many insecurities… But it’s just a beginning, the further you go the more challenges await. I’d like to look for more peacefulness, generate it within myself no matter what’s happening outside. I feel attracted to the philosophies of Stoicism and Buddism but I’ve never really dug deep or put things into practice. I’d like to change it.

Have a wonderful year my dear creatives. Keep trying to find peace in all this chaos that’s happening around us. The only way is to keep going forward, there’s no other option! Focus on what’s important and be grateful for little things. The practice of gratefulness can help to see the light in the most cloudy sky.

I know it’s cliche and I always wish that to everybody, but… I wish for you to be healthy and strong first of all. When we struggle either physically or mentally all the rest just fall. I know first hand. So take care of yourself and your loved ones. When health is in its place the rest is just a matter of time, patience, and consequence:)

Marta Witkiewicz

Bringing magic into life.

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Marta Witkiewicz

I invite you to take a walk through parts of my world. I hope you will take a spark of magic with you 😉