A few days ago I was at a Christmas party for my husband’s work. My husband was very proudly telling his coworkers and their spouses that I am an artist, and people were asking me excitedly about what I do as an artist. It was really odd for me to hear people say “I hear you’re an artist” and it was hard for me to say “yes, I am”, when I was drawn toward answering with “I’m trying, yes” or “I’m just playing right now”. At one point in the evening, after an automatic awkward response, a gentleman reminded me that if I have pieces hanging in a gallery, I am, in fact, an artist.
So, here I am, almost 2 years into my journey of creative and artistic expression, and I am STILL having trouble calling myself an artist out loud. I have a society 6 shop. I have a total of 6 paintings that have been chosen by a jury and shown in the Art in the Workplace Exhibits. I have a big dream and am working on the foundation to get it started. I can type “I am an artist”. I can paint it on my affirmation paintings. I thought I believed it. But the other night, being asked to speak out loud about it, I had a hard time owning such a dream title.
Why is this? Could it be because I have no formal education? That’ doesn’t matter to many great artists. People experiment and play and privately study their inspirations. Some became well known as “the greats”, and others run successful businesses based on their intuition and creativity. So that’s a bogus excuse.
Maybe it’s because I feel like I haven’t been doing art for long enough to claim the title. Yet, when I was a student as an xray tech, in my mind, before the official test results came in, I WAS an xray technologist. And when I was pregnant, growing a little human in my body, I was a mother in my heart. And the moment that baby was born, I was a mother to the entire world, with not one single second of experience or knowledge.
So why, then, do I feel I can’t call myself an artist? I paint, I draw, I love colours and texture. I express emotion visually. I am an artist.
Yet, I feel like I don’t deserve it, like I haven’t earned the title. Maybe it’s because I don’t have one single “thing” that I do…I don’t have a focus, a love, a singular passion. I dabble with whatever art supplies speak to me on any given day. And my style is yet to be set in stone. One day it’s loose watercolour and ink sketches, the next its painterly whimsical portraits, and the next it’s fun florals. I’m all over the map. Elizabeth Gilbert has a speech from Super Soul Sunday Sessions with Oprah about following creativity and being a hummingbird, bringing ideas from one area to another and cross pollinating the world. She also explains that curiosity gives you the clues to the incredible scavenger hunt of life, and may just lead you to your passion. I am a hummingbird, following my curiosity.
And that’s ok! I am constantly learning and becoming, we all are. It is essential to realize that we do not need to learn before we become, they can occur simultaneously. We can learn as we become, and become as we learn.
Kelly Rae Roberts’ says in her book, Flying Lessons, “you won’t really start to believe it in your heart and soul if you don’t say it to the world…we have to believe in our hearts we are artists before anyone else will believe us”.
So here I am, saying it to the world…I am an artist.