Why is it so hard to call myself an artist? I know I’m not alone. Is it because I came to this later in life–being serious about creating art, instead of just “having a hobby?” There is always that niggling thought in the back of your head “who does she think she is?”
And since needlework HAS been a hobby throughout my life, it has been a leisure activity for me. Its hard to give myself permission to spend large amounts of time doing something that I always considered play.
And then there’s that whole BIG AREA–how do I fit normal life (you know, cleaning, cooking, etc.) into a life that has enough room to create art.
And of course, there’s the thought that if no one else likes it, is it really art?
But at the end of the day, I am discovering that I am the only one who can decide if my work is “art.” I have to like it. Sure, I can get input from different people (and believe me, I do!) but it all comes down to me liking what I create enough to say–“that’s it! Its finished.” Or, “I think I’ll change that part of it.”
I like what Anne Lamott says in her wonderful book “Bird by Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life.” She is speaking to a group of young hopeful writers, some of whom have unrealistic expectations, and some of whom she knows will never be “successful” in the world’s eyes.
I still think they should write with everything they have, daily if possible, and for the rest of their lives.
And she ends her talk with this:
You simply keep putting down one damn word after the other, as you hear them, as they come to you. You can either set brick as a labor, or as an artist. You can make the work a chore, or you can have a good time. You can do it the way you used to clear the dinner dishes when you were thirteen, or you can do it as a Japanese person would perform a tea ceremony, with a level of concentration and care in which you can lose yourself, and so in which you can find yourself….
The best thing about being an artist, instead of a madman or someone who writes letters to the editor, is that you get to engage in satisfying work.
Its still hard to call myself an artist. But I will keep working at my art every day. Someday maybe I will believe that because I am creating art, the only thing to call myself is an artist.
I wrote a post about “a day in the life” over on my quilt blog. It was a very good day. A day in the life of an artist. There’s lots of pictures–I think you’ll enjoy it.