I was hosting an art group in Italy three years ago when we were touring the home and business of Vittorio Baltrami. It was the highlight of the trip, a cheese and olive oil tasting at one of premiere olive oil makers in the region. Vittorio asked each of my students, in turn, what they did for a living. The first responded that she was an accountant. The next said she was a retired teacher. The next said she was a realtor. After about the seventh answer, I wanted to jump up and down and yell. Not one of them said they were an artist! Here I was with a group of talented painters who had traveled across the world to pursue their passion, and not one publicly acknowledged they were an artist.
Tonight during a live video for my online class, I asked the the group to share stories about when they first realized they were artists. When did each first have that “aha!” moment, and knew they were meant to follow this creative path. Many said they realized they were artists in grade school. Several said they knew before the age of 5 years. Almost every one that responded had a particularly striking memory of receiving some accolade or award and knowing they had a special talent.
Why do we hesitate to identify ourselves as artists? Many of you who are reading this are creatives. An artist is not simply someone who uses a brush or pen. Whether you create in paint, textiles, stone, or flower arranging, whether you are a writer, landscaper or designer, chances are the need to follow that calling has been a part of you for most of your life. So many of the artists in my classes are women, and setting aside art to raise a family or to pay the bills can be necessary. But finding yourself again, afterward, can be a way to recharge and rediscover your heart and your joy.
You’re an artist. Don’t be afraid to own it.
Being an artist makes you an unusual and amazing creature in this materialistic world. What you create will be not only a physical legacy you leave behind, making the space around you more beautiful, but it will be a frame of mind and a willingness to pursue dreams witnessed by your students, your children, and by friends who need to know that art is a noble calling and a real profession. The next time your friends or family introduce you as an amazing artist, say thank you. Agree, graciously, that you are, indeed, an artist. It’s time to own it!
When did you first realize you were an artist? I would love to hear your story!
Paint online with me in Italy!