who am I as an artist?

studioIt's interesting I've taken a break so to speak from painting after the 100 Day Project and also because just spent a lovely and super fun week in Boston with my sister-in-law's family. Coming back to reality is always fun. It's also quite interesting to kind of figure out what I would like to blog about. I have a lot of interests even within the arena of "art" and it's been challenging to figure out what to write and what is most interesting for me to keep writing about! It's ironic that in a lot of professions nowadays, if you want to have an online presence, you must have a blog. Well . . . . blog means CONTENT which equals WRITING! It's ironic that the most successful way to reach people is something that you do not do very naturally. I'm a painter. And that's why it was really fun and easy to post what I was doing . . . PAINTING - which is natural to me. What I feel and thinking about and experimenting with, I can just show you through the 100 Day Project for example. So content was fun and relatively easy in that respect.

But I am not a writer. I like pontificating and writing as a way of journaling (very stream of consciousness as my husband calls it). I am not a very good editor of my thoughts. So why the heck would I want to WRITE A BLOG? That has been coming to me lately.

And "what kind of an artist am I" as been in my foremost thoughts now since my future business endeavors fell apart this past February. What I "thought" and "dreamed" and "hoped" was going to happen ended very abruptly. So what now?

I realize that the past decade I've been trying to answer this fundamental questions of "what kind of artist to I want to be?" to "Who am I as an artist NOW?"

I have toiled with tips and tricks but at this moment I'm wondering is that who I am really? I am not really fond of tips and tricks in magazines for example. I know they are very good, quick and engaging ideas or examples or specific projects, etc. But I don't do them. I may fold the corner of my magazine page and want to do them or try out that recipe or actually do that yoga sequence "some day" but I never do.

What really engages me and sticks with me are deeper issues. Why is art such a difficult and challenging subject for most people? In a lot of ways it can be argued that it is similar to the definition of love - so many different meanings, expectations, stereotypes and means different ideas in different contexts that it's almost impossible to define.

And I'm STILL struggling with MY definition of art and how I'm defining myself as an artist.

When I first decided to be an artist (and I really honestly mean that I did wake up one morning and decide, I'm going to plunge into this art thing), it was a harrowing adventure just to "come out" as an artist. Looking back as a child I realize now that I was always creative. I loved "playing" which meant making up my own imaginative worlds, mostly inspired by the dramatic movies I would watch and then try to act out (musicals were definitely a favorite!). But my entire young and growing into more of an "adult" life, I repeatedly thought "I'm not an artist!" and as I grew older into my high school years I would bombard myself with "well I'm not that kind of artist," - I can't draw like that, I can't paint like that, I'm not good enough! So I'm not an artist. I consider my creative or having a creative drive, but I'm not ambitious. Mostly I can't paint like that! So much so that by college I was a mess of "I can'ts" that drove me practically into hysteria by beginning of my senior year. Then I had my little epiphany on my art abroad but it still didn't take root until 4 years later.

After I had graduated from my first graduate masters program, I rejoined my husband who had moved to Washington DC for an exciting job opportunity. I had been separate from him, living in the rural fields of east Illinois, having this bewildering and eye-opening experience of "becoming a painter!"

I remember going to a barbeque of friend of a friend's and being overwhelmed by this new label I had earned - "an artist." I feel that most people in DC are obsessed with the government (why not? Practically every single person works or is related to someone who works there and either feels the need to be up on politics or it is really truly their passion), does social work, or is a lawyer. All conversations are very serious. And #1 topic of conversation is what you are "doing" currently with your life. So I specifically remember an instance when one girl walks up to me (because I was clearly doing the introvert thing of just staying a bit always quietly eating my cookie and looking awkward as hell), and brightly asking what I do? This was my very first initiation into the real world so to speak, with my new label. I conjured up my courage and exclaimed "I'm an artist." And with that there was a blink, a pause, and a disappointed "oh" from the girl. And then she just turned and walked away. I was a little stunned. Do I have green skin? Am I hideous or something? Do I speak a foreign language? All must have been true to this girl who obviously thought that either she had no idea what else to ask me or that I had nothing of interest to offer up to her. This incident has stayed with me as it clearly illustrates all of these stereotypes we, as a society and culture, have of artists.

Today, after another 4 years of after graduating from a prestigious art program for my MFA, I have finally overcome a lot of the academic aftermath of going through a program where it is also cultivated on what kind of artist you "should" be. I finally feel I've let a lot of that go and embraced more possibilities. And feel like I'm in a good place now because of this space and time away from such an intense period in my life.

Tonight I flipped through one of my journals and found a Manifesto written back at the end of April in response to a B-School assignment. I thought it is very apropos at this moment when I'm trying to put into words what I want this blog essentially to be about. My original purpose!

MANIFESTO (April 28, 2015)

* My purpose is to inspire women to be more creative in their lives, in a more soulful, deeper and richer way. Ultimately using painting and the art creative process as a spiritual practice or journey.

* We, women, are physically and biologically built to be creative, our fundamental purpose is to give life. But in today’s world, this purpose has been broadened and enriched to symbolize so many different forms, a source for living life to the fullest. Everyone is creative. Everyone is creative.

* Seems like there’s so much out there right now that is a “hobby,” or “DIY,” or “1-2-3 craft.” We think being creative is to go from project to project to project. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s fun, easy and less time consuming. And it’s also in the moment and for a purpose. But I feel I can contribute and show that the creative process can be a more enriching tool for a deeper, more soulful self-discovery. It is empowering to think there is a need for deeper, more meaningful messages or communications through art.

It's refreshing to see that my intentions are still pure in this respect. Now I have to figure out HOW I can do this. But for a start, this is definitely the kind of artist I want to be. Definitely the kind of art I want to make and definitely the kind of art process I would love to share.