04 August 2012

hear us roar

I've been touched by the emails I've gotten about my latest article in QA. Truly, not only that people take the time to write, but that they feel comfortable sharing. Its not an easy thing to open up about personal art viewpoints.

The thing that I found to be a common theme is that many of you seem surprised my sketchbook is so...basic. And that's a good word for it, basic. I refer to it as my little workhorse, I don't really care how it looks, I just have at. There has been a common lament in the messages I've received saying that they didn't think their sketchbooks are impressive enough. I just want to set something straight here:

There is no "right" way to be an artist.

If you are inclined to paint grand sweeping jewels of perfection or if you just want to scribble with your ballpoint pen - its your space. Make it what you want it to be.

Let me share something private with you: its taken a long time for me to accept the title of professional artist. My mind knows I am but when I'm standing in my studio in my pajamas (that consist of a John Lennon "Imagine" t-shirt and penguin print bottoms) at three o'clock in the afternoon with paint in my hair and soy wax burning off my iron, well. It doesn't really fit the ideal picturesque definition I hold in my mind of what a professional artist is.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I get how pressure or perception can make you want to change the way you work. Don't. You do yourself a disservice. Its something I struggle with too. I'll hold the paint brush in my hand, stare at the fabric and debate my choices for the billionth time.

Maybe I should work in lighter colors, more cheerful. Maybe I should put flowers on things, people might like that better. Maybe I should...maybe...maybe...

In the end I have to argue myself out of wanting to change the most fundamental things that make my artwork mine to please some obscure ideal I've built up in my mind. You know what? No one has ever asked me to work brighter or lighter or with flowers. Not a single person. Its that stupid negative voice that wants to get in the way that tells me I should do what other people are doing rather then what my instincts tell me to.

The thing that is interesting is that these debates happen far less often now. They are still there but as soon as I feel it coming on, I squash it dead. Because I've proven time and again that staying true to myself was the right course. Holding that path helps keep the angst in check, builds confidence so that in the end you find yourself left with a sense of peace that follows you through the studio and your daily life.

Being Artist is not a simple life. But you know the saying "If it was easy, everyone would do it"? Just keep that in the back of your head the next time things feel difficult. Because we are a special breed, we know how to struggle through our insecurities and come out the other side stronger and more confident. We're stubborn enough to know that the challenges make the end result that much sweeter, that its worth every single second of doubt and debate.

We are Artist, hear us roar. ;-)


Jay said...

Hi, Lynn....haven't been in contact with you for awhile so after seeing your statement on facebook, thought I would put in my "two cents"!! I do understand what you mean about being a professional artist...or even just to say you are an artist. And I do think that art/artist today have it much easier than many years ago (remember my ancient years!) because art is so much more universal, so much more easily accepted. The attitudes toward art/artists 40 years ago was...."strange" or " different". And oh my gosh..the materials we have to work with now...and the cyber world for sharing ideas and showing work accomplished....I just want to keep learning and sharing and creating til I drop!! Thanks to you and many of the other "younguns" the world of art is bigger and better than ever!!!

Carol said...

Once I started saying out loud that I was an artist it became easier to say with confidence. Although I'm not at a point to quit my "day job" I'm in the studio daily and have incorporated it into the rhythm of my life. I create art because it pleases me and without the outlet I become tense and frustrated. I enjoy reading your perspective and seeing your work!

Lynda said...

Great article! I've never considered myself an artist until lately. One reason was that I've never really used a sketchbook. I jump from an idea I might see in a magazine or in nature to the project. I remember years ago I found a picture of a quilt I wanted to make. I started making the top. I showed my husband at the time the picture in the magazine and my top, and he laughed. Said it looked nothing like the picture - looked like a flag! Anyway, I stopped working on that project immediately and never picked it up again. When I look back now - I would consider myself an artist even back then - taking an idea and making it my own. But I took his comment to heart and quit. I was the writer in my family - the other siblings got the artist gene. It is nice to see you have both! And after way too many years, I do too! Great post! Lynda (feel creative after a day of dyeing!)