Do you dare to call yourself an artist? Do you sit up a little taller when you hear the word and proudly reach for your talents to share them with the world?
Or does the mere mention of the word cause you to shrink back just a little- or maybe a lot- your internal being cowering as if you are not worthy of the creative mantle that the title ARTIST implies.
What does the definition of the word imply to you?
A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hand and brains is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and brains and heart is an artist. ~Lois Nizer
That is one definition. The IRS has another. They would like you to make a profit, along with a number of other defining characteristics.
But what about those of us in the middle? And how exactly do you define the concept of art? Is it something done with a paintbrush? Can it be done with a camera? How about a garden? Can that be art? How about home decorating? Pottery? Writing? Making Jewelry? Cooking?
Lately, when I’m ready for a short afternoon break, I enjoy a visual stroll through my artist friend, Lisa Lehmann’s shop, StudioJewel. She is also known as the Bead Girl. She makes stunning jewelry that I love to look at and once I click on her Etsy store it can be one virtual rabbit hole after the next as I click on one store then another, entranced by beautiful jewelry, crafts and art.
I find myself wistfully thinking that I should be doing that. Creating and designing stunning wearable art. In fact, here is a little secret, I’ve had my own Etsy store since 2008 and it has been %100 empty. Silly isn’t it?
I sort of ran out of time. Over the past couple of years, my definition of art has focused on writing a novel, concentrating on learning photography, directing a theater group and writing a play, refining my culinary skills and studying the elements of design in many different areas. And yes…I pick up a paintbrush every now and then and swirl around some paint on a canvas.
Does one of those areas make me more of an artist then another?
Do you hear a little voice in your head saying, “Well, that one means she is an artist, but that doesn’t, just because she takes pictures doesn’t count and heck…I cook dinner every day and it sure as HECK isn’t art!”
But could it be?
Is it so much the WHAT we do that defines it as art as it is the HOW we do it?
I’ve made jewelry before with some beads I got at the Hobby Lobby and some five-dollar string one weekend when I got a hankering to try something new.
I fiddled around, impatiently squinting at the tiny holes in the beads, mumbling about how hard it was to thread the string into the hole. I spilled my beads, watched them scatter, and thought how pretty they looked rolling all over the floor. I did finally manage to make one moderately pretty but uninspired bracelet but in the time it took me to make it, I could have earned enough to buy a diamond.
It wasn’t my genius work, as my friends would say. I will leave that to Lisa. Or at least maybe try another form of jewelry rather than bead stringing.
Contrast that with the time I spend writing or working on my photographs or painting. When I am working on those arts, the entire world can fade away. I am lost in the Zen of Creation. There is no sense of time, no impatience, no frustration. Creativity moves through me like a fluid dance, shifting like sand, and I turn softly with it. I am its partner and it leads the dance with confident steps. I am entranced and in those moments, I would never even think to ask…
Am I an Artist?
Of course I am.
An Artist creates. An Artist gives creation from the flow of her spirit. An Artist sees the world and translates it, giving the gift of emotion, heart and soul through whatever medium he/she uses.
Artists delight us, move us, break our hearts, anger us, change our minds, touch our souls and open our eyes.
They use words, paint, metal, clay, food, paper, chalk, glue, music, film, pixels, dance, flowers, the earth and countless other mediums too vast to mention.
YOU are an Artist. Maybe you haven’t dared to speak the words aloud, but somewhere inside of you is an Artist waiting to share a message with the world.
What is your medium?
Davina Haisell says
When I was younger I would have thought of art as being more related to painting or writing. I don’t see it that way anymore. I would define it as appreciation of expression in as many forms as is available. Art to me, doesn’t have anything to do with talent… just ability. Folk tend to shy away from calling themselves an artist if they feel it involves talent or having to measure up to other artists. I am an artist!
Wendi Kelly says
Yes Davina, You ARE an Artist!
Ability is probably part of it, mostly because we likely stop doing things we have limited ability in after awhile…*note the beading gone bad experiment* but I still think Art is something that touches us at a- dare I say it spiritual level when we are engaged in the creation and expression of it.
Joanna Paterson says
It’s such an interesting question Wendi. I was exploring it the other day in relation to writing, and the idea that your words can be art. I find that the statement generates a lot of awkwardness and resistance, but also desire and affirmation. We know it’s at least at some level true.
There’s part of me that feels it’s *more* true when there’s another dimension involved in the writing – using images too, or blending words or images, or, and perhaps this is the crux of it, doing something with my hands too, actually *making* something. (Like your craving to make something with beads.)
I think the main thing is to stop words acting as limits to expression. If we can create more, better, deeper, wilder, truer… by declaring ourselves artists, then why the heck not?
Wendi Kelly says
I think you have stumbled onto something here. When I worked at Corp, I lost the feeling for awhile that I was an Artist, even though I was writing professionally every single day in a business communications department. I used my words writing articles, and I hope creatively, yet…it wasn’t the same….AT ALL.
Something was lost. Part of it, I know was that the writing wasn’t coming from my spirit. It was assignments, one more thing to check off the TO DO list. Whew, got that one done, now what’s next…and the joy and feeling of getting lost in the words was missing. The making of something, the thrill of creating…that is a big part of it.
Perhaps the REAL question should be…Do you dare to call yourself a creator?
Scott Roche says
I definitely consider myself an artist. I wrote a blog post recently that you may like. Basically it said stop “aspiring” to be something and be it as best you can. http://www.scottroche.com/thoughts/2011/02/09/aspire/
Hi Wendy .. I guess I fall into this category – but don’t think I do .. and so perhaps Scott’s idea of stop aspiring .. just be that artist as best you can. Writing, creating ideas and communicating and linking others seem to be my strengths .. we’ll see as life develops – cheers Hilary
Wendi Kelly says
So sorry, You were lost in spam! Being the best you can be and focusing on your strengths is a solid plan. Good luck! And thanks for reading, hope to see you again in the future.