I have friends who are talented, powerful creative artists (and that’s not just my opinion) — and who call themselves “dabblers.” I’m shocked to hear this. (I’m not naming names — you know who you are.) Why do they underrate themselves and their work? Lack of assertiveness or self-esteem? False modesty? Fishing for someone to call them out and insist that they ARE indeed artists? I have no idea.
In general, I’m never shy about claiming my title as an artist.
Am I a Great Artist? Probably not. That doesn’t mean I’m not one. Besides, I refuse to compare myself with other artists, living or dead, great or otherwise. Who knows what kind of art they’d produce if they had my background. Maybe they’d be at the same stage in their career as I am now. Conversely, if I’d lived in their time and circumstances, maybe I’d have been a Michelangelo or a Mary Cassatt.
Am I the best artist Linda Posey can be at this moment? You betcha. I reserve the right to be proud of who I am as an artist RIGHT NOW. While my first goal is to create for my own satisfaction, I revel in every bit of positive feedback and every sale.
Am I the best artist I’ll ever be? I certainly hope not. Every time I paint, I feel like I expand my creativity and my power of artistic self-expression.
If you’re creative, if you make any kind of art, I urge you to claim your title as an artist. Not as an ego trip, and certainly not as a “box” to limit yourself, but as an affirmation of what’s possible for you. Set aside the comparisons with others, the setbacks and criticisms you’ve endured in the past. Forget, for now, the future achievements you aspire to. Right here, right now — declare the possibility of your creativity, the possibility of your own greatness — or potential greatness. I AM AN ARTIST!
To me, playfulness is one of the hallmarks of creativity. That’s a pretty serious way of saying something I don’t want to be serious about at all.
Don’t get me wrong. Creating art is — on some level — hard work. AND if we don’t play at our work, it loses the vibrancy and energy of authentic self-expression. When does creative work become play?
Play is FREE. It’s uninhibited by rules, expectations (our own and others’) and the desire to live up to someone else’s dreams, desires and standards. We may take those factors into account, but we don’t allow them to limit our self-expression.
Play is FRIVOLOUS. It doesn’t mean anything. I may be creating the most “important” work of my career, but I try to remember that 500 years from now, this canvas will, in all likelihood, be consigned to a dusty attic, if not to a reclaimed landfill.
Play is FUN. At least for a moment, it takes you back to some childhood moment of giggling, giddy delight.
Play with your art. Those moments of free, frivolous fun are what creating is all about. And play with me on this blog. Your (playful – or serious, if you must!) comments are welcome.
Today’s post was triggered by a comment on an earlier post made by “surrealsol”:
“Early this year I got back into art after not being very engaged in it for many years… I had to get rid of all the preconceived ideas I had learned in my youth… I learned to focus on feelings… There were no expectations or mandatory rules to think about. This focus on feelings allowed me to have a freedom in art I had never experienced. It keeps everything fresh and experimental… Now I feel certain that art will always be a part of my life.” — surrealsol
The teachings, expectations, rules and preconceived ideas from the “gurus” of our youth are a powerful foundation for who we are as artists. Most of us wouldn’t be artists without the discipline of our art education. But that education can also become the concrete overshoes that sink us before we learn how to swim on our own.
Give yourself permission to transform those rigid rules into flexible guidelines, to experiment boldly with your art until you discover for yourself what works and what doesn’t work in your own creative self-expression. Do this, and you’ll unleash, as “surrealsol” did, a new freshness and freedom in your work, and perhaps a new commitment to your art career.