21 October 2013

YOU are an artist...

Yup, YOU.  YOU are an artist.  How do I know that?  Because there is "something" in almost every human being that just makes us want to create.  Some of us foster that desire more, some of us ignore it a bit... but trust me, it's there.  It's been that way since we humans began becoming self aware.  Don't believe me?  Check out the world's oldest cave paintings in El Castillo cave.  Some of the paintings were as simple as a red disk, but they were made by man about 40,800 years ago.

Why do we create?  There are about as many different reasons for that as there are people who create things.  There was a time where the art invoked magic, it drew down the blessings of the gods, gave thanks, and represented the things that were important to those creating it...for some of us, it still does that.  As strange as it can seem to those of us who have phones we can hold in our hands that have cameras in them to record everything, once upon a time, that wasn't so. The artist was the camera of her day. The artists were what captured their world.  Humans want to make our surroundings beautiful.  We embellish our clothing, we create jewelry to embellish ourselves, we hang art on our walls... it makes us happy, it's what we do.

Now, while I am NOT an expert, certainly not according to Martha anyway , and boo-hiss to Martha for tearing down rather than building up those who blog... I am a 50-something-year-old woman who has wanted to be an artist all of her life... and I've come to realize that my time is marching on... fast.  If I am ever going to be an artist I have to simply decide that I am going to wear the hat of "Artist", and that's exactly what I've done.   I can, and I shall, wear that glittery and fabulous hat of "ARtIsT", because I am an artist.  BTW, my hat is fuchsia and lime green with great big bits of orange and deep, deep teal, with feathers, and colorful threads that hang from it, and lots of beads all over it.  Of course, it is constantly evolving, so next week it might be something different.

I will insert a disclaimer here...I have absolutely no formal training in art, unless you count the high school classes that I took.  But I do have a fabulously fun, and somewhat strange mind, so I can be whatever I choose to be... just as long as I can back the claim up!!!  Of course, if I have no formal training in art, and I am an artist, you know what that means, don't ya?  Means you can be one too!!

So, if I believe you are an artist... why don't you?

Since I don't know you personally, and haven't gone through years of therapy with you, I can't speak directly to your reasons... but I am willing to bet that, every person out there who wants to be an artist, but just cannot give themselves permission to wear that hat, can give you a dozen or so... right off the top of their head.  (Especially easy, since there is no hat on that head.)  And, I'd almost bet they are a bit more like excuses than valid reasons.  I mean y'all... "I can't draw a straight line" just doesn't cut it... who wants to draw something as boring as a straight line???

While I don't know your "why I'm not an artist" reasons, I can share with you mine...

In all my years, people have told me how "creative" I am, how "artistic" I am, how "talented" I am.  Ok, maybe not ALL of my years, I did spend all those formative ones learning how to walk, and feed myself and dress myself, but you get the idea.  And, looking back, I was pretty creative... and, honestly, relatively talented.  But I didn't believe any of them, not a one.

Why didn't I?  Because I believed that, to be an artist, one had to be an artist the likes of Van Gogh, or Monet, or DaVinci.  Creating a beautiful portrait that looked exactly liked the person, or a perfect still life, or some amazing landscape... I could try, but I sucked at it.  Seriously.  Sucked.

And, I don't know about you, but I have this inner critic that would shame the most scathing food critic at the New York Times. That voice inside your head that has the uninvited running dialogue about how what you are doing sucks?  Mine goes something like this... "OMG, you think THAT looks like a duck?  Seriously?  Oh come on... it can't be a duck, an elephant... maybe even a moose if you look at those lines you stuck out there for no reason just right... but a duck?  Oh no, that isn't a duck..."  The conversation can go on forever. Interestingly enough, my inner critic's voice is suspiciously like my mother's voice. 

And, just as bad, or worse even, than all my other reasons, or excuses really, is that I happily embraced wearing a hat for far too long that read "I am not good enough".  And, oh my goodness, that belief didn't just apply itself to art, that extended across my life.  I was a terrible daughter, a horrible wife, a therapy inducing mother to my children, a volunteer that just didn't do enough...  The list just went on and on.  The "I'm not good enough" and the "you can't do anything right" voices often got together and had quite the party in my head... and it was ugly.  Very ugly.  At least for me, but they seemed to thoroughly enjoy it.

Little by little, honestly, I think it has been mostly a process of getting older for me, I have (FINALLY) come into my own.  And, to be bluntly honest with you, I really don't give a damn what people think of me any more.  I am doing the absolute best I can, I am passionate about every aspect of my life, and everything that I do in this life is done with intent and commitment... and that is enough.  That is the best I can do... it ain't perfect, but it's pretty darned good.  It was such an amazing revelation when I finally understood I was never going to be someone else's definition of perfect. (Read that carefully, and let it sink in for a minute or two, because I think so many of us are trying to meet what we believe is someone else's definition of perfection, real or imagined.)

MY expectations of myself were unrealistic, because they came from what I believed others expected of me.  It was quite the shock to find out that those others didn't really have those expectations... I was creating them all by myself.  I was being far too hard on myself.  I had been the one expecting perfection... an absolutely unattainable illusion.  There is no such thing as perfection.  What there is, and what is attainable, is being who you truly are, embracing your "imperfections", and letting go of all that other bullshit. And, trust me, three quarters or more of it is all bullshit.

With that realization came the question... "Now what?".  I mean... seriously... if I didn't have to be perfect, what could I be? What do I want to be?  Do I have to limit myself?  OMG, if I have no limits... what can I do???  Just let me tell you what I can do...

I can be imperfect, and I can love, love, LOVE my imperfections. They are, after all, what make me... me.  They are what make me different than you.  I can play, and explore, I can make messes.  I can look at the world differently, I can see beauty in every tiny little thing.  I can be mesmerized by the moon, and I can take an afternoon off and spend the whole of it doing nothing but looking at the clouds if I want.

And, here's the best part... I've always wanted to be an artist... so guess what?  I can be an artist.  Oh, I am not a Michaelangelo or a Rembrandt... nor am I an expert in all of this... but I don't want to be.  I can define art differently, I can create bright, garish, wonderfully fun creations that are my own art, not the art of someone else.  I am me... and I am an artist.

I have two goals for this blog.  1. That if you want to be an artist, but still haven't found the perfect artist hat to wear... you will find the encouragement, the belief, and the faith in yourself as you read through my experiences, and the experiences of others who share them here to realize that YOU are an artist, and can wear that hat proudly.  2.  That this blog will honor all of those wonderful people who have supported my journey, who have walked parts of the path with me, and who encourage me to continue to walk this path, even when the undergrowth is a bit thick, because the journey really is all that matters.

So, join me... come share this path for a bit... I think we're going to have lots of fun!


Nancy said...

What a good idea this new blog is! Helpful to keep a perspective and explore the creative urge.

ACreativeDream June Crawford said...


How sweet of you to say such nice thing! I'm hopeful that those who find it will find it helpful and encouraging as they take their journey!

jinxxxygirl said...

June we could be twinsies! :) I think it is all about getting older and caring less what people think.....I hope i'm alot like you when i grow up. :) Hugs! deb

Melissa T. said...

I'm not kidding, it was like you were talking directly to ME (!) As I'm sure I am not the only one who feels this way, what a wonderful, fresh and new idea for a blog. I will eagerly anticipate more musings :) :)

ACreativeDream June Crawford said...

@ Deb... you know, I'm still wondering what I'm going to be when I grow up... I may never figure that one out!

@Melissa... That is exactly what I am hoping for, because I am talking directly to you (and the thousands of others who feel the same way).

Whether we pursue art for a living, for a hobby, as a passion... or just because, I think the journey is very similar... maybe, if we can all share those aspects, we can all grow, because we get to see that someone else has gone through the same thing.

Rocky Cross Studio said...

So wonderful your words are music June!! I agree with Melissa it was just like you were talking to me and boy I needed every word right now!!! Very happy and looking forward what to come!!!

ACreativeDream June Crawford said...

It seems to resound with a bunch of folks, doesn't it Barb? See how similar so many of our paths are? I hope we get some great interaction here, I think it could do all of us a world of good!

Eileen Bergen said...

I love this idea and am already following ;-) Good luck with it, June!

Cherie Burbach said...

Following! What a great idea, June. (And I was disappointed in Martha, too. :()

Gretchen said...

Hi there. It's a really busy time for me and I usually skip over lengthy blogs, but as I am a regular at your other blog, I decided to read this one. I know exactly what you mean. And it seems to me that I came to that realization when I was about your age. I've since decided that each of us must make the decision to become an artist, or writer, or whatever when the time is right. But the neat thing is that there are some, like you, who are willing to cheer on the rest, as well as share their individual journeys. Nice going. Keep it up.