How NOT to become an artist

One of the biggest assets in life is to have someone believing in you.
I’ve never had anybody believing in me.
In fact, on the day I was born my mother cried because I was a girl. Her life was difficult because she was a woman so she wept due to the expectation of all the horror ahead of me. And there was a lot of horror. Being a woman is not easy. Especially, if you’re born in Russia. Many religions claim that it is a punishment to be born as a woman rather than a man. There are so many ways to justify the suffering that women are subjected to. But this is not what this post is about. 
My dad went on partying for there days when I was born. Not because he was happy but because, just like doctors, he expected a boy. I was meant to be Ivan, you see. I guess my father assumed himself a tzar of some sort and saw my appearance into this world as a punishment from gods. He didn’t bother to come to the hospital and greet me. My mom had to call for taxi herself and took me home 7 days after I was born. I was born with minor suffocation due to birth cord forming a loop around my neck.
And so my journey has began. 
My mother was a ballerina when she was young. At the age of four I was sent to ballet school. I’ve spend 7 years intensely practicing pirouettes. When I was 8 I started skipping classes. Of course my mother found out one day. She was furious. I thought I was the most evil child on the planet. So my older brother was told to accompany me to the dance school each day. So he did. When we got there, he’d open the door and kick me from behind so I’d fly into the studio. There was no chance for escape. All the girls at the ballet school were very girly girls. They were also very ambitious. I reckon they learnt art of gossiping by the age of five. They were all very competitive too. There was no chance for genuine friendship to blossom. I was an outsider. They all thought I was weird. I silently suffered. At the age of 11 my mother finally had to admit that I was too tall to become a ballerina so she let me go. It was the first time I felt so liberated. I didn’t do anything for about a year and gained weight which depressed me enormously, so I had to give some credit to my mom that physical activity is important. I started going to martial arts school. I don’t think I’ve ever been so committed to anything. My teacher even put me in the group with boys as I was way more dedicated than girls and I was physically as fit as many boys were. It was my personal victory. Or so I thought. Until I realised that my choice was very much a replica of my mother’s choice only with a slightly different twist. My mother conditioned me to be a ‘soldier’ and I’ve become quite good at being one. Suppression of expression continued. 
When I was 14 I told my parents that I wanted to be a designer. My father just laughed. My mother told me that I was not talented enough. My mother didn’t know I could draw until I was about 25. One day my niece asked me to draw a portrait of her, which I did since my mother was not in the same room. When my mother saw my drawing she was truly astonished. She was silent for about 2 minutes and then she started criticising my representation of niece’s eyes. My mom could never draw. My mom always has what to say about everything. My mom is an expert in criticism. Of anything. 
When I was a child my mother was giving me grades for everything I was doing. Back then we had a five pint system at school, with 5 being the best mark. Whether it was doing the dishes, or arranging flowers for my mom, I never got a five. She’d give me four with a plus, sometime a five with a minus. I was getting more and more frustrated. No matter how much I tried it was never good enough. One day I broke into tears and asked why she didn’t give me a five. She said that it’s because there is always scope for improvement. So I carried on trying. Eventually, I’ve learnt that I’m never going to be good enough. Trying can not last forever. A feeling of incompetence can.
After I declared my intention to become a designer, my father spent next 4 years humiliating and bullying me. He called me mental and abnormal in front of other family members and friends. He would make fun of each comment I made calling me an idiot who had no grasp on reality. He told me I should eat only bread for a year and then decide whether I should still want to be ‘an artist’. He also called me a spoilt brat. Only spoilt brats wants to go to art schools. Eventually, he told me that I’m gonna end up on the streets and will come back begging him for money. That was the final drop. I exploded and screamed that I’d rather die on the street than ask him for money. He wanted to hit me but I run away. I’ve been running away ever since. 
But when I was 14 I had nowhere to go. First year I’ve spent depressed. I’ve started drinking when I was 14. It wasn’t just drinking for fun. I’d get drunk to the point of passing out. This is how my self-destructive behaviours started developing. At the age of 16 I’ve decided to give up on the whole ‘art school’ thing. I was not talented enough. I stopped drawing when I was 15 and didn’t resume until I was 19. I made myself t not have the urges to draw. Before that I was always doodling something, but since I was told that I was an idiot I started controlling these impulses and every time I wanted to draw I’d just draw a square and repeat the same pattern with a pencil until there would be a hole on the paper. Eventually, I stopped having these urges. I’ve learnt conditioning as a child, so the power of will to condition myself has become prevailing. Fortunately, I found other means of communication. I was playing the guitar and ended up hanging out with local rockers, which lead to a lot of partying, of course. I was directing various performances at school. Since it was a part of extra-curriculum activities my parents, thanks god, either didn’t know or didn’t bother to restrict this type of expressive activity. I did have to keep my ‘rock’n’roll’ lifestyle a secret but i’ve become and expert in lying and pretending. My parents had no idea I was doing something else apart from studying. I was preparing to become a doctor at that point. I had private tutors in chemistry and biology. I attended school of physics and mathematics, which was all additional  to my 13 subjects at school. I was a ‘work hard, play hard’ type of girl. I was meant to be a success. My mother always believed in my success. She unfortunately, didn’t know about believing in being yourself.
I’ll come back to how I didn’t end up a doctor on some other occasion. What was interesting when I was 19 is my grand return to art, visual art, that is.
I fell in love when I was 18 and found myself in love with a woman. It was very strange, especially because I never knew this was possible. It was confusing, but at 19 I didn’t care yet for the consequences of such love. What I cared about is love, so I started drawing again. It just came naturally. My love for my first girlfriend produced an enormous explosion in the creative part of my brain. In no way it was a good relationship and in no way it was good for me, but love is what mattered at that point. Love is a force that sometimes wakes us up from years of sleeping. At that point creating was easy: I was drawing my girlfriend, I was painting for her, on her… Everything was dedicated to her. Art had a direction so I didn’t need to question it. The issue of purpose became apparent much later. Our relationship ended when I was 20. It ended again when I was 21. What I was left with was complete identity crisis. I didn’t know who I was. I literally had no idea.
So this is how the search for myself has began. It’s been 10 years since I’ve started this journey or this journey has started me. Strangely, I still do not know who I am. But at least I now know what I’m not.


3 Responses to “How NOT to become an artist”

  1. you are blogging since 2009, why did you spill this biography only now?

    • mental break down. suppressed emotions and then memories had to come out. for some reason i also struggled to write for some period of time and now i can’t stop writing.

  2. Being a woman is not easy. Especially, if you’re born in Russia

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