One of the side aspects to doing public arts projects and community murals is that I often spend time listening to participants tell me how they always wanted to be an artist, but that they just never got around to it.
If I ask, “When did you know you wanted to be an artist?” the answer always seems to be, “When I was a child.” They usually go on to tell me just how much they loved to draw, and that back then they could draw just about anything.
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You have no idea how much this breaks my heart. . . I have witnessed so many art “dropouts” like this that I can’t help but wonder how many plumbers and accountants and teachers and nurses gave up on their gift of art because they either lacked the support and confidence to proceed or because someone else discouraged them by diminishing the value of what an artist is and does.
You see, an artist does not just use a brush or pencil in an imaginary and adept way—an artist is a visionary that makes our culture see past the obvious.
A good artist touches emotions and calls attention to what can be overlooked. An artist delights us and adorns us and comforts us and entertains us and beautifies our world with talents reserved for those given that special eye to see, mind to create, and commitment to follow through.
If you’ve been struggling to decide whether or not to abandon your art, please, don’t give up! Artists have important roles to play in this world, and you are one of them.
As an artist, you will inspire others
Who hasn’t looked at a great Renoir, Monet, Hopper or Johns and been inspired to be better in their own style? Every time we wonder what the artist is saying and dig deeper into the artwork, we grow as people and re-sensitize ourselves to what these images mean for ourselves.
I have visited my local museum and found myself standing in front of a gorgeous painting with tears running down my face at what was accomplished.
The Arts awaken us to our humanity and seek to tie us together in common experiences, to the end that we appreciate more, love better, care for our brothers, relate to their sufferings and rejoice in their triumphs.
Art moves us, recapturing our “awe” for the universe and to silence that gifting in ourselves—whether because of rejections, put downs, ignorance of its purpose or lack of appreciation—is to contribute to the death of the best in our society.
This is a calling that needs to be encouraged and protected, not passed over or set aside until a “better time.”
Accept your uniqueness as a gift to the world
Are you competing with other artists in your mind? Do you look at other work and compare yourself or them as to whether they are as good as you are?
Do you tell yourself you are not a “real” artist because you feel you have a long way to go? Have you let the opinions of others color your belief in your gifting? Have you been criticized and rejected and so you believe you are not “good enough”?
Every obstacle you face will illuminate how much you want and believe in this profession. Many people who face these difficulties go into other fields of work, yet later on in life still can’t let go of their first calling.
If you are an artist, you will be one always—it will come out in your ideas, your environment, and even in the way you arrange the food on your plate!
As artists, there is no reason to compare ourselves to anyone. We each have our own individual voice and our own interpretations of the world around us. . . and it’s better that way! What you do with your chosen media is something only you can do. Don’t you think that’s worth pursuing?
I urge everyone who has this inner gifting, this soul of an artist, to acknowledge it and rekindle it and have confidence in it! All great ability begins with belief in that ability—if you think you can’t, you will prove yourself right.
Don’t put it off. Motivate yourself by starting now
Countless times I’ve heard artists say, “Well, I will get it together someday. . . I am just waiting to get motivated.”
Ready for some tough love? A new piece of art will never come into being while you wait to be motivated. A new piece of art comes from doing.
The way to motivation is by seeing colors squeezed out on a palette or by opening a fresh sketch pad to explore your thoughts with a piece of charcoal in hand.
Trust me: you will achieve greater things because you took action first. Action is what produces motivation.
Once you realize your true calling and understand what your gifts bring to the world, there is no good reason to silence your gifts any longer.
Believe in your ability, and your own unique contribution, then pursue it with all your heart. Get started today investigating new ideas, playing with oil paint on a palette, or clay, or computer.
It doesn’t even matter where you’re starting at, or how long you’ve avoided it.
You are an artist—believe in that calling with confidence!