Yes, I am an Artist.
I have been inclined to create since I was very young. I grew up in a home where I was surrounded by creativity and the wonderful smell of turpentine and paint. Two of my four older brothers were artistic and the other two were more inclined to music. My two older sisters were both artistic. One obtained a degree to be an interior decorator and the other produced wonderful pieces of Art in high school (I am from a large family. There are eight of us siblings). My little sister, who is only 14 months younger than I, would draw the most adorable cartoon-like pictures in high school. As for me, I was into everything from crayons to clay and pencils.
I think I drew my first serious picture when I was about three. It was in crayon. It was of a horse and had those square hooves that kids always draw onto horses before they really see what they look like. The sky, however, covered the expanse of the page where the ground ended. It was not the small band of blue that lots of kids put into their crayon pictures, at the top, to represent the sky. I remember my teacher commenting on the way that I colored in the sky. I think I was nine at this time.
From there, things progressed. I learned to oil paint at about 13. My mother, who was an incredible artist, taught me and at 16 I produced a night-time, moonlit seascape that was so realistic, even I was surprised.
When I started college, my aspirations leaned more toward nutrition, since I had successfully lost over 70 pounds and kept it off. But, when I found Psychology, all of that changed. While I was taking, and passing each Psychology class with flying colors, I was working in a work-study program at the 2-year college I was attending. During this time, I would draw in class to help myself study. The act of drawing was therapeutic and relaxing and it helped me remember, as strange as it sounds.
My Art was noticed by many people, including the woman who was my boss and ran the bookstore where I worked for my work-study program. She asked me to draw a few pictures of what the bookstore might look like after some proposed improvements. I was paid for my work, a thing unheard of since I sold a unicorn bust to my Art teacher in high school (I was 14 at the time of the sale of that clay figure). She suggested that I change my major because I was wasting my talent.
A couple of years later, I did. By that time, I had moved and was attending a different 2-year college in Show Low, Arizona. The town is small, in comparison to the towns and cities that I had lived in for the first part of my life. Soon, many people knew me by name and people were recognizing my Art. I was fairly bursting with creativity and gratitude.
I began to sell my Art, paintings and drawings, and could now call myself a professional artist.
But, during all of this, I discovered why Artists frequently call themselves ‘starving Artists’.
In this world, which has continued to grow smaller right before my eyes from the time I was younger until now, there are so many truly talented people. So many of the Artists in this world have started out with money or have been able to attend schools of Art. So many live in places where they are near an Art community or where there are galleries and they can afford to display their Art (it isn’t free to hang your art at a gallery). And, then there are those who don’t come from a place of financial ease or from an Art school or who are not able to present their Art to the public through a gallery forum. I have found that those less fortunate people make up the majority of the people who are Artists (notice I did not say ‘those who call themselves Artists’).
These who have not been noticed, who do not have the money to attend a specialized Art school or who do not have the financial means to display their Art to the public still create their works, tucked into a corner of the kitchen or the garage or basement. We continue to paint or draw or assemble small parts of our souls in a form that everyone can see. We still give form to our dreamstates in whatever way suits us because we can do nothing other.
When I create, it is like therapy. I am able to say things, out loud, in the form of a work of Art, that I am not able to give voice to in any other way. I am giving my deepest thoughts a shape. I am creating a window into my soul, each canvas or paper a pane through which any person may look to see what goes on beneath the surface. It is a sublime, raging current of spirit that anyone can view.
I am often asked, “What is this? What does it mean?”
And I answer that my Art is what you see. It means whatever you want it to mean. I don’t define it to people because I want to hear what people see in my work. I learn from what others say. I learn what type of a frame of reference each person uses and take great pleasure in peeking into their soul, by way of their spoken word about what I have created. It is as if our dreams meet on the canvas of my painting.
When I paint or draw, I don’t do it to sell. I do it because, as a friend of mine once said, ‘I can’t NOT do it’. I paint or draw because it feeds my soul; it calms me and takes me to another place. I meditate while I am creating, as strange as that may seem, and commune with my Spirit Guides and the Goddess and God and my Muse. I hear the voices in the wind. I have one foot in my dreams and one foot in the waking world and I bring that dreaming part of my consciousness to life with color or with shadow and highlight.
I do not consider myself to be a ‘starving’ Artist, even though I do not often sell Art and could not pay my bills with the income from it. As contradictory as that sounds, it is true. You might wonder how I can see myself as anything but a ‘starving’ Artist, since I do not make a living at what I do the most and what I most love to do. I will tell you, in case you have not figured it out yet.
It is because, in my soul, I do not have an emptiness. There is no hole that I need to fill with….something…anything. I have this thing called Art that I use, that is a state of being in which I sometimes live. It makes me whole within myself. Creating Art, even if it is never seen by the world, makes me rich with color and image. It gives me a chance to speak without speaking and to sing without singing, to dance on the ether. Because of my Art and the ability to communicate with it, to paint my dreams and thoughts, I am complete. I do not hunger for an outlet or a venue in which to present myself to the world because even if the world does not see these pieces of my soul, I have still spoken and have fed that part of myself that must create.
I am not starving.