Are You an Artist?

Are you an artist?

I am a lot of things. So are you.  

You might be a dog-lover or an avid reader. An extrovert, nature-lover or traveller.

But are you an artist?  

Of course you are. But precious few of us would ever describe ourselves that way.

Maybe you have lovely penmanship or know how to cook a delicious meal. Many of us doodle in the margins and curate the things we hang on our walls. We plant flowers, wear funky glasses or pretty scarves and arrange the knick-knacks on our shelves. Aren’t all of these acts artistic, in some way?

I’m a teacher. Almost all of my elementary school students (especially those under the age of  8) have no qualms about referring to themselves as artists. They can’t list all of the elements of Art, they’ve had no special training, they don’t use fancy brushes or paper, but they believe–no, they know–they are artists. Why does this change? 

Is my art any good? No. And yes. And sort of ... and who cares? Not six-year-olds, that’s for sure.

When do we begin to doubt our abilities as creators?

I think it stems from a fear of being judged not only by others but also, by ourselves. Rated, assessed, critiqued. Is my art any good? No. And yes. And sort of ... and who cares? Not six-year-olds, that’s for sure. But I do and so do you, probably. And somewhere along the way, we start to pass judgement on our own creations, no matter how fun, relaxing or exciting the creating process may have been.

Is judging our art always a bad thing? Maybe not. Maybe it means that we have a vision of where we’d like to see ourselves as artists, but we’re just not quite there. Not yet.  

Maybe the most important thing for the artist within us to do is enjoy the process while we’re in between what we are creating right now, and what we want to become. This place has an important role in teaching us about art and helping us grow as artists.

So I say take that photography class, buy a watercolour set, landscape your yard, start using a calligraphy pen or write that short story. Your inner-critic will see the space between your current piece and your future vision. But the 6-year old inside you will have fun. And they think your work is fabulous. You artist, you.

If you want to hear more about that “in between” place where you are, but your vision is not...check out this piece by Ira Glass called, “The Gap”.

This post was submitted by local teacher–and artist–Kerry Donahue. Feel free to share your questions and feedback below.

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Banner image from Death To Stock.

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