I always wanted to be an artist.
To me, art referred only to the visual arts; painting, drawing, sculpting. I would sit breathlessly in art classes in grade school and high school and imagine being overcome by inspiration. As if suddenly, I would be given the talent to put my personal vision on paper in such a way that people would be blown away by my endeavor (and pay through the nose for the by-product of my genius!)
Unfortunately, that never happened. Either my creations would be mundane and unremarkable, or they would be laughably pedestrian to the point of derision. I expected that the beauty in my soul would translate seamlessly to the sketch book, and I resisted any indications that education or practice could improve my artistic product. I had the inclination, but not the soul of an artist.
Ironically, I pooh-poohed the gifts that I did have as inadequately artistic for many years. The fact that I could sing and act and write never struck me as the hallmarks of being a “real artist”. Because painting pictures with words came so naturally to me, I never valued the gift.
As I have aged though, I find myself appreciating my own vision of the world. I have accepted that my point of view may be unique and that it may shine light for other people who are exposed to it. I have embraced the fact that my important contribution to some of those things considered art is as an observer and audience member. (I wish I had the means to consider myself a patron!) I have matured into a more relaxed view about my own abilities, one without the confines of strict judgement.
Recently I saw a post on social media about a conference for artists hoping to monetize their pursuits. Accompanying the post was a photo from last year’s event. Being a woman of a certain age (the name of the president the year I was born rhymes with Schmiesenhower), I didn’t notice the age of the people in the pic. Below it was a comment about how all the people pictured were OLD!. The poster asked if there would be any information offered to artists who were young and hip and relevant.
How interesting to surmise that artistic talent and the need to express it should have an expiration date. I have pity for this young person (I assume!) who thinks that artistic ability and vision have an “use by” date, when in fact, like wine and certain cheeses, it becomes more valuable and rich with age.
And so I have learned to embrace my artistic side in all of its robust, irreverent glory and I look forward to continuing to express it for many years to come. Whatever artistic path you are called to, I hope you follow the path to wherever it may take you.
Look Ma! I’m an artist!