Starting my online art school #2

In 2020 I’m starting my online art school; right here, on my own website. Why am I pursuing this goal? How am I going to get there? And what do I need to tackle it? I’d love to take you along on this journey and share my struggles and victories. I’ll be talking about this in this series of blogs.

“…this series of blogs”, she said. I sounded great in my head, at the time. So do a lot of other things on the days you wake up with enough creative energy to move mountains. And even enough to forget that you have a history of using up that energy quicker than an old-school lightbulb, leaving very little left for the days to come. 

I think for many of us, the past few months have been a unique situation to say the least. I was happy to see many can find comfort in art. But I also relate to those who are unable to pick up pencil or brush during these times. 

For a long while, I told myself that my lack of energy and flow was due to these events. At the same time, it felt a bit like cheating; I don’t have 3 kids to homeschool , only one and homeschooling lasted for a few weeks. I haven’t lost anyone due to Covid or issues caused by the pandemic. I was able to manage the impact on my income well enough. And my family and I are healthy.

So of course I started out with telling myself I needed to stop complaining and get to work because there was nothing seriously stopping me. Maybe some of you know that specific voice in your head; it sounds like you’re talking to a group of 3 year-olds. Or a dog. “Chop, chop, let’s get a move on now.”

But I didn’t move on, and I couldn’t get anything done. It might have something to do with the fact that I’m no 3-year-old and was never a dog and don’t respond anymore to simple cues, when more complex matters are in the way. Sound elitist? Yeah, that was my first thought as well. While the world is suffering, I saw myself sitting here with my first-world-problems. “Maybe if it’s all so damn hard for you, you should just go work at a supermarket and let someone else run a business”, I thought. “You’re such a snob.”, the voice replied.

The thing is, it’s all old news to me and many of us. That pattern of bringing yourself down whenever you have your eye on something you really want. Running away from opportunities and not even giving yourself a chance at getting to your goal. 

“Oh well, I guess it wasn’t for me after all”

“It’s probably better this way”

“I should just be content with whatever I have now”

Blegh. I look at myself in the mirror and my brain starts spitting out excuses, one after the other. Corona. Mean people. Mental health issues. And for some reason (could it be age?) I can suddenly see beyond it. I can see that, even without a global pandemic, a world full of assholes and a brain chemistry that requires some extra maintenance, I would still be stuck in this same place because I don’t believe that I deserve to succeed.

Is “admitting” to this the key? I don’t know. Maybe there is no key, though any life coach will probably tell you otherwise for the right price. I do know from past experience that whenever I’m stuck with something, I throw it out into the art community and feel lighter. So this update is just that; completely self-centered and in my own best interest. 

At the time I was writing this, I hadn’t done anything all week. Then I started doing stuff, just to get my mind off the fact I hadn’t yet posted this blog. It takes whatever it takes right? Because two months later I managed to wrap up my first ever live course on this website. I don’t want that to sound like some “at the end I prevailed” conclusion because it’s not. It hurt at times and brought back a lot of bad memories from my previous work. I freak out at least twice a day thinking something broke my website. But I think it’s crucial to go through these feelings, to be kind to them. They’re there to protect you even though there’s no direct danger anymore. I read people’s positive messages and try to breathe, tell myself it’s ok. It’s not a quick fix, but a slow and tiring process, up and down, back and forth and unworthy of any hipster mindfulness Instagram hashtag. But it works because I’m here, and you’re here reading this. Thank you for that. 

Read more posts in this series

8 thoughts on “Starting my online art school #2”

  1. Elizabeth Corson

    Good for you for posting your honest feelings! You say that once you do that you feel lighter. I am happy for that for you! But you need to know that your feelings, words and transparency always seem to make me feel lighter and a bit more free, too! Maybe that is because I have a hard time putting words to how I am feeling and once I read yours I feel my spirit say…ahhhhh yes, that’s it!! So, my dear friend, please know that you are truly being unselfish and helping so so many of us!!
    I can’t wait to start Mixed Emotions!!! xxoo

    1. Sabra Awlad Issa

      Thank you so much Libbi! It’s really great to hear that this is relatable, not because I wish it upon anyone to think like that about themselves, but because I feel that it’s almost in our nature to think we are alone with these thoughts. A weird thought, when you think about, with so many people on the planet what are the odds that you have a unique thought right? 😀 I’m so glad we have this community where we can safely share these things <3

  2. Reading about your feelings, your ups and downs always makes me feel better about mine. I am so thankful for you. I also think you are very brave taking on the challenge of pushing forward through all the hard stuff to make your dreams happen.

    1. Sabra Awlad Issa

      Thank you, I’m so glad we get to share some of this with each other! <3 I'm really tired of that habit of quitting when I feel down, and the art community has helped me immensely to push beyond that. It makes me realize even more that we need each other, no one has to do anything alone. Peer support is important and we need to let go of the idea that stuff is only valuable when we achieve it on our own. Thanks for support always! <3

  3. Hi Sabra, I just watched your b&W portrait oil sketch on Kara Bullock site. I love your approach. I am a bit oil paint phobic and am looking for ways to overcome it. I am more a draftsman than painter. I like to work in mixed media (and gravitate to gouache, not so much to acrylic), but I feel as though I am missing out on so much since oils are just so luscious! Are you considering offering a course in expressive oil portraits? Thanks so much!

    1. Sabra Awlad Issa

      Hi Dawn,
      I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the oil sketch! I do plan on doing an oil course with a more expressive focus. I’m hoping to this year!

      Much love,

    1. Sabra Awlad Issa

      Hi Ben,
      I don’t yet, but new course are coming this year exclusively on my website! Thanks for your support!

      Much love,

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