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Shout it out loud..You are an Artist !
Also snowflakes on your tongue and the trouble with chocolate coins
I have encountered many people -makers and creators who feel awkward about calling themselves artists. It seems that many artistic people from my age group (I’m almost 67- but let’s just say 50 year and up) seem particularly reticent about using this label. I hear “I’m more of a crafts person” or “I’m learning” or I wouldn’t really call myself an artist” ..
I do like the Webster definition of an artist :
“A person who creates art (such as painting, sculpture, music or writing) using conscious skill and creative imagination
It’s almost like a gold standard one has to reach -with certain strict expectations and guidelines. You are only an artist if….
It is a loaded word and identity it seems . What societal tasks do you have to achieve to be “one of the club” By keeping the mystique and attributing a certain specialness to this word- I think it leaves a lot of exceptional creators out of the circle.
My dad who was quite a talented watercolor artist called himself a “Sunday Painter”
He was humble and private and the world did not have the opportunity to view his art and enjoy the richness of his special talent.
He supported all of my creative efforts and projects from puppet shows to exhibitions and we had a small yet poignant father daughter show in a local library . I often wondered if it was a lack of confidence or difficulty offering himself time to connect with his joy. His intentions upon retirement had been to paint more..
He never really did.
My father’s watercolour painting of Baseball Place -formerly a (prior to being demolished )road in Toronto,Ontario
What might be stopping you from making art even though you love to create?
As a child I was earmarked as the artist in the classroom. It made me feel proud inside but also a bit embarrassed if I was centred out in front of the other kids. I recall being red faced and receiving gold wrapped chocolate coins from one primary school teacher every time I presented a drawing or project.. (Plus a whole motherload of coins for putting together an illustrated version of “Little Pilgrim’s Progress” -(She was a bit of a religious zealot!)
It only reinforced for the other children in my class that there was only room for one Artist in the room. You were gifted with the artist gene-or not. It set the tone for a lifetime of internalizing that you are or are not an artist.
A place in my memory where I experienced the joy of letting go with art was in a huge gymnasium Saturdays mornings where I and maybe 50 other kids lay on a gym floor and drew whatever we liked mostly on huge sheets of newsprint under the guise of “Art classes”.
We learned that just the act of making marks was relaxing and satisfying.
Although I attended art school I didn’t connect with my art practise in a dedicated way for many years . Working commercially was not in the stars for me as I lacked maturity and confidence in marketing my own art work. Working as a server in late night restaurants only left me drained and unable to muster interest in painting . Later on as a parent I discovered new forms of creating alongside my young child. Making giant dollhouses , fairy homes, paper mache animals and puppets dovetailed with our lives . I started to recall the contentment I felt revisiting the Artist in me . When my daughter reached an age where she could manage my creative departures I dove into mixed media art where I could experience satisfying results in less time than when I struggled over a high realism painting . I started to discover my stride again as a working artist at 40 . It also helped me unwind and find solace from my busy life.
As we mature and perhaps have a bit more time to dedicate to ourselves and our own interests it is also the time to expand our knowledge and skill sets and wholeheartedly embrace our creative sides
You can learn to draw. You can learn to paint. You can learn so many specific skills both online and in person . Take classes to improve your skills if you like but whatever you make will be and must be with your special unique imprint.
It’s the discipline, dedication and pure joy that can propel you forward.
Fortunately times are changing and we can attribute some of the positive changes for artists to the internet making it easier to self promote and sell your work to the world without having to go through the some often dated restrictive barriers. It’s a learning curve in itself but the first hurdle is the recognition that you believe in your abilities and that you are passionate about what you make.
I think so many creatives from our vintage still believe that unless you have shown in a Gallery then you do not qualify as an artist. Art is subjective- if you enjoy making over and over again for heaven’s sake don’t stop. Try to reign in your inner censor. Take photos of what you make -show to others or just keep a record for yourself.
What’s holding you back from calling yourself an artist?
If you make art you are an artist. If you sell art -to your friends, family, the public you are a working artist. Now there are so many ways to live and breathe as an artist.
The next time someone asks you -and you do make art and lots of it - Please do say you are an artist ok?
Oh and the snowflakes part ..The other day when Spring was still not appearing we had a lovely frosty morning with those gentle giant snowflakes that are soft and fall quietly from the sky . I was walking my dear hound Gracie and in a delightful moment stuck my tongue out to receive one of those fluffy wet wonders. One of those moments when I felt a bit..Ageless