Why I’m finally OK calling myself an Artist…


So I had intended to write more often through out this process. But a couple months back my computer decided it didn’t want to be a part of our family anymore and died on me. I’ve been doing my posting via my phone which is why some pictures are worse off than others and also why some things I’ve said have not made the most sense (damn you auto-correct!!!) and also why I haven’t been able to update the individual months under the 365 Project tab.

You can check out the post The First 43 (which is the last time I was able to do a real update post on my progress :/ ) for some of the little feelings on how this project is affecting me. But right now I want to talk about WHY I have chosen to do this. And how I have keep going with it for 300 days.

Typically when people find out that I have chosen to draw every day for a year straight I receive mixed responses. Some are enthusiastic others really don’t care or understand. Obviously I love talking with other people who have or are doing a similar project. It’s great finding that camaraderie of someone who understands and KNOWS what you are going through. However, there have been a couple of cases where people have been kinda rude about me doing this.  And others that have been genuinely interested. So this kinda makes me feel like I need to explain this for those who have asked why I do this whatever the reasoning behind wanting to know is.

First lets hop into the Way Back Machine and see what Karen was like as a kid.

I mostly enjoyed drawing and being imaginative. I loved being in the woods and hiding in bushes. I really enjoyed fantasy which was great since I was born in the 80s and the US media was throwing glitter and demons at everyone then. (Some of the best movies you’ll ever watch are from the 80s no matter how low tech) But I spent most of my days with crayons and pencils in hand. I hated those huge fat crayons that they gave kids. uhg they were horrible. No wonder most kids had problems staying in the lines.

As I grew up I realized that there were other ways to create things. I tried crafts of many sorts. But I still loved drawing. I didn’t really get a taste for painting until high school. By that point in my life I had become fairly self centered in a sense of only worrying about the immediate issues in my life. Which is the nice way of saying that I spent high school dicking off with my friends instead of applying myself and trying to get in a good college. Which brings me to college.

I was only in college for three semesters in a state school. I was still pretty wrapped up in the “right here right now” mentality so for various reasons I left school with the intention to go back. That was 11 years ago…

There was a point where I really didn’t think a person could make a living off being an artist. Then once in college, I realized how much of being an artist means selling yourself. You have to be a great salesman to be an artist. Or have people who are willing to sell your stuff for you. Anyways I’m getting off track. It was around this time that art slipped away from me. It was something I would only do once in a while. Then months would pass and the most art I would create were little scribbles of inspiration to draw “one day” when I had more time. Which I never have by the way. When people would see the rare and occasional piece of work I would do they would ask “Oh are you an artist?” I would always respond with a “Kinda” or “sometimes” It never felt right declaring myself an Artist. How could I say I was an Artist to people when I only created art maybe three times a year? I mean really people don’t going around saying they are something when they only do it occasionally. If someone dresses as Santa during Christmas but says it with utter truth to you in May that he is Santa all year long, you’re going to look at him a little funny. So I always just shied away from the topic. It actually made me hate showing anything I did create to people because they expected to see more and I’d have to admit that I wasn’t really an artist. I was just a girl who had artistic skill. But not an Artist.

Some other problems I would come up with is that in those moments of inspiration my skill level would not match the need of my imagination, or that the timing was all off. I’d be inspire to draw the next masterpiece but it was 2 o’clock in the afternoon and I was working. And weeks later when I remembered it and would put pencil to paper it never matched up to the picture in my head. Those problems existed because I treated art like a magical reserve that would run out if I used it too much instead of treating it like any other skill that needs to be learned, honed and developed. Do you remember how your name looked when you wrote it in kindergarten? It was atrocious! I can only hope now in your life it is better, and the reason it’s better is because you practiced at again and again.

There’s not much I can say on the act of working day in and day out instead of only working when you’re inspired that hasn’t been said already. In fact, it’s been said TONS of times because any professional will tell you that being a creator is a job not a play date. I mean God worked for 6 days straight before taking just one day off…dedication is key. Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration and all that jab. You can read this article a dear friend sent to me about Neil Gaiman’s view on the matter.

Further on in journey of Karen, a few years ago I moved to a great little city in the mountains. This city is soaked in art and Artists and all sorts of creative people. This city made my heart ache for something that I had abandoned. It also made me realize that people can make a living off art. That Artists work in all sorts of levels of skill, it was more about consistency and action than anything. I started to think that maybe a life in art was possible for me. I realized I needed to pursue it, that it wasn’t going to pursue me. Would you hire someone for a job without any indication that they are capable of doing it other then their own word? No, probably not.  So why would anyone want my artwork if I never made any to show them what I can do?

Around this time last year I was presented with a forced hour of free time that I had to fill every weekday morning. Some days I would draw or read, some days I nodded off back to sleep. After a short time of doing this and the thought of the new year approaching I decided to make an honest resolution with full heartfelt intentions to keep it. So I decided to draw everyday. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

While I am just starting out on this path and I know that for me to be an Artist it is something that will take time to accomplish. And that’s OK. As long as that time is filled with me moving forward and not with excuses that cover up fear and insecurities. And that’s WHY I do this. I do this for me. I do this so that I can become better. I do this because it is a gift that was given to me by God and all gifts given that go unused turn into bitterness. I do this because I love it.

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8 thoughts on “Why I’m finally OK calling myself an Artist…

  1. Such a lovely read…I think any person going into this field struggles with the idea of “I love it but will it keep me fed?” The term “starving artist” may be a stereotype, but the truth starts somewhere, you know? Amongst all of my peers from art school, I found that the ones who kept on pushing with the support of their loved ones always made it.

    I believe you have the right mind set and you’ll find all sorts of support from surprising places. Good luck on your journey!

    • It’s really going to take time and I need to remember that. But I think you’re right. The support of others is really important.

  2. I found your blog/365 day journey from a friend liking your last drawing on facebook.
    Last night i was wondering if i could do one small painting a day. All month, maybe all year. I resonate with so much of this and im really just beginning to give this big dream any sunlight to grow. It seems so substance-less in some light, but then in other light it seem like such a deeply worthy endeavour.
    Its a battle. I think im going to give it a go, at least for a little while and your sketches and words have been so inspiring, thank you. 🙂

    • You should definitely have a go at it! It’s all about knowing what you can do and just adding a bit more to it. Baby steps really add up.

      Thanks fir the kind words and thanks for letting me know how you me ! Look forward to seeing your year.

  3. I am drawing several pictures a day. I usually come up with 3 or so. I have been doing this since March 8th 2014. It is a labor of pure joy. It wasn’t my intention to draw everyday, it just happened. I had been working on music and doing gigs prior to that. I was just emotionally spent from doing my songs in front of people, and my material was getting me bored. I believe that different processes in Art are more labor intensive. I can see where bronze casting with a molten crucible is 99 percent work, one percent creativity. Whereas drawing pictures for me is really direct, just pencil to paper and BAM! I really wanted to do an exercise where I write a song a day. I could not do it, someone suggested just making 30 seconds of a song per day. Either way, even knowing that it is okay to write a crappy song or make a crappy drawing, I could not get myself to write music. So back to the drawing board, ( bored?) Hey just wanted to drop you a note. Thank for your time!

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