Saturday, November 26, 2011

I am an Artist

As I was checking blogs and cooling my jets after my stuffy, sneezy lack of patience encountered my 2 years old's teething, pre-nap whinefest, I had a rather sudden and important (to me, anyway) realization:

I am an artist.

“Huh? I’m a what? Doesn’t that require some kind of skill?”

“well, yeah. And desire.”

I’ve always had desire. I’ve always wanted to create beautiful things and I’ve always found joy in discovering beauty. So much so that it seems that others around me seem to think I’m an artist. I have received several gifts of art supplies in my life time from several different people. I have a confession to make: I have never used those gifts (Sorry, Mom, Dad, Mickey, and Casey). Because more than desire, I’ve had doubt. Doubt in my skill, and in my knowledge and doubt in my hands.

Example A: Polar Bear.

I drew this bear in high school. At that time I thought it was juvenile, and poorly done. It didn’t look like the picture I was modeling it after. It wasn’t realistic. I couldn’t make my hand create the picture in my head (or right in front of me in this instance). I believed I wasn’t a good artist.

The dirtiest, rottenest, stinkiest lie we can tell ourselves is that we aren’t good enough. I cannot tell you how many things I have started and quit because things weren’t how I imagined them. To be fair to myself, I do have a healthy imagination, to say the least, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that I was (and sometimes am) a quitter.

At some point, my mom saw that polar bear picture and she told me she liked it. I seriously wondered why. Why on earth would you like that? It doesn’t even look like the picture it is supposed to look like. I have a wonderful Mom (who is also an artist) who pointed out some good things about the drawing. I have not often looked at that picture without hearing the criticism in my head, but even while I belittled my skill, I knew someone liked some part of it, even if I couldn’t figure out why at the time. The more I have looked at my polar bear (and the less I compare it to the picture it was 'supposed' to be) the more I see the good in it, and forget the things I thought were poorly done.

As I thought about this experience this afternoon, I had another sudden and rather important realization (which I think is relevant to everyone*).

I do have skill.

Although I didn’t have the skill to make the art that I had envisioned, I had the skill to make art that someone enjoyed, and if I shut the critique in my head off for a moment, I found that I enjoyed it too. Rather than trusting my head to know so much about art (when I know it doesn’t, which is why I have all those art supplies untouched in a drawer) One of the beautiful things about art is that everyone doesn’t have to like all of it.  I used to clean house for a woman who painted what I thought were some seriously mediocre cop outs, but maybe they “spoke” to someone. The fact is that my art will never "speak" to anyone if I don't make it. So "Off with her head!". Not really. Just artistically. It's time my hands got to speak up.

*the fact that I  have skill is perhaps not relevant to you, but I suspect the fact that you have skill is. Is there something you've been planning or hoping to do someday? What is stopping you?

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