Friday, August 4, 2017

The Ever-Turning Wheel of Doubt

I'm confused today. About being an 'artist.' This happens more often than I'd like....

There really was a time when I thought I was All That -- it was a hundred years ago when I was a kid and didn't know any better. I can look back now at my younger self's creations and over-confidence and give myself nightmares. Who was that 19-year-old smart-ass with her little Playskool portfolio waltzing into a downtown business office to apply for a job as a frippin' art director? Seriously?? (Believe me, she had no idea what an art director was, but it had the word 'art' in it, so obviously it was something she'd be amazing at....)

That bitch thought she was an Artist with a capital 'A.' Was she just confused? If she'd had the right training -- gone to art school, been mentored or something -- would things have clicked into place? Would she have understood that THIS is where one begins, THIS is how one grows, THIS is how one makes her place in the Grand Scheme of Art Things? Who knows....

Renting my first-ever studio space has brought all of this to the forefront. I'm renting from artists. I meet teachers who are artists. I take classes with other artists. Some are confident teens (like I once was). Some are confident 60-year-olds (like I wish I was...). I pay attention to them all. And then I question myself.

In every group there's always that artist who is determined to stump or show-up the instructor, or bring the focus around to themselves and their work. When that happens, I find myself thinking, "That kind of behavior bugs me. If they're an Artist, then I don't want to be one...."

And there's always someone wearing what I call an artist 'costume.' When I see them, I find myself thinking, "If that's an Artist, and I just look like somebody's grandmother, then what am I?" (says the chick who has shaved her head, tattooed her body, and is currently gauging an ear.... Gah *grimace*.... Am I not just expressing myself? Have I succumbed to the pressure? Do I think that if I somehow make myself LOOK like an 'artist' that I'll believe I am one??)

This topic consumes me. I talk about it ALL. THE. TIME with James, who I'm sure is sick of it now. But he always listens patiently before marching out the same story for me, the one about his late father who once lived in Greenwich Village and went to art school and may or may not have hung out with Pablo Picasso. Albert was a fabulous artist (I know this because I have some of his works), and according to James he created art more than he talked about creating art, and looked like an old man more than an artist. James recalls him saying often (and I paraphrase): "If you feel like you have to wear a costume or proclaim yourself every time you walk out the door, you're expending more energy acting like an artist than you are in actually making art."

Wise words....

And, as always, thinking at the keyboard helps to clarify things for me. I just reread this post and thought: A person who bakes is a baker. A person who builds is a builder. I make art, so why not just call myself an artmaker? Let the rest of them be artists. It certainly takes the pressure off....

Or -- even better -- why not just be an artist who isn't an ass?

THAT I can do.


  1. Labels don't make a person. You create from the heart and that's all that matters. You are loved from the inside out!

    1. Awwww! THANK YOU for this. Sometimes I just need a reminder. <3