I never felt entitled to call myself an “artist” because I thought real artists made art all the time in whatever medium they had available and wherever they were.
They doodled on bar napkins. Or they whittled on camping trips. Or they resculpted those tin foil swans into wrinkly Rodin masterpieces, leaving the leftovers bare and unappetizing.
Then they whipped out their pocket sketchbooks and sketched the leftovers.
Mostly I don’t see people doing those things compulsively, though I did meet a thru-hiker last summer, Iron Man, who whittled AT pipes around the campfire in the evenings after hiking all day. But, mostly, it’s just what I believed about “real” artists. That they were infinitely more compelled to create than I was.
It never occurred to me to sketch my leftovers or whittle a stick instead of throwing it on the fire. And, face it, I’m just not a doodler.
So that means I’m not an artist, right?
I’m in the process of challenging some old beliefs about making art and being an artist. It’s part of my process of dancing with my own fear so that I can get my own work done.
Let's start with expanding the definition
It occurs to me that maybe this isn’t just an issue of belief, but also an issue of definition.
It occurs to me, as I write, that I do have that compulsion to create. It’s been there all along, but it just looks different. My definition has been too narrow. Doodlers and whittlers don’t corner the market on creativity. Neither do painters, sketchers or makers of things that I can put in a frame and hang on my walls.
It occurs to me that my definition of “artist” doesn’t encompass the vast ocean of creative energy that exists in the world. And in me.
It occurs to me that it’s time to expand my definition of artist in such a way so that I get to be part of the party.
I write. That’s what I’ve always been compelled to do, how I’ve been called to create and how I’ve responded to that urge. It’s my creative foundation.
I’ve also been called to explore, to dabble in a variety of mediums over the years—fiber, pottery, photography, website design, painting, art journaling, cooking, designing coaching programs.
Everything, it seems, but rock stacking, thank God!
It all counts. I may not have followed any particular thread through to mastery (which is another topic to explore another day), but the urge is always there to make something. Has always been there.
The belief didn’t need expanding. Just the definition.