Hello everyone – Amy here.

What is art? And what makes someone an artist?

I had this conversation with my brother not too long ago. I recently read some of his poems, and holy cow, is he ever a good poet. He’s the type of writer who effectively uses the beautiful flowery scholastic language that few people can use to good effect.

Take for example, the poetry of minor character Eric in Cassandra Clare’s book City of Bones:

Come, my faux juggernaut, my nefarious loins! Slather every protuberance with arid zeal!
Turgid is my torment! Agony swells within!

(By the way, I’m not talented enough to write poetry that bad – had I made up an example, it would have been much more mediocre.)

But my point is that my brother’s poetry is the exact opposite of that. It’s good and moving and makes fantastic use of language.

Anyway, the conversation concerned what makes one a writer or an artist. My response is that you are an artist if creating is necessary for your well-being. That doesn’t make you a good artist. It just means that your expression feeds your soul and that you really cannot do without it and be your best self.

The world is beautiful but not sayable, which is why we need art.
– Charles Simic

I, as many people seem to do, view my art as worthy only if it’s good. I struggle with the eternal creative bias that my art is not good enough. I don’t know enough. My technique isn’t good enough. And I wish I could do what other artists do.

I know this is counterproductive. I know I need more time in my studio. I know I need to create just to create, to make what pleases me and express what is meaningful to me. I recognize what Charles Simic states above – the world is not sayable. Art communicates what I can’t say and don’t understand. It’s a window to my soul, and the purpose is not to make others happy.

But I want others to appreciate it. And I very much want to be proud of what I’ve done.

I don’t consider myself a painter or a drawer (that’s draw-er, not drawer – like bureau drawer). I have trouble with perspective and wonder if my composition sense is naturally good or not. I buy books to learn techniques and then have trouble finding time in my busy life to practice, let alone read about practicing. 🙂 I know I’m not alone.

I sat down to draw this morning and really tried not to invest myself too much in the outcome. I used a pencil without an eraser, which I NEVER do. I can’t help but try to erase my mistakes… but ironically, this sketch is probably the one I’m most proud of – ever. I’ve been sketching (carefully, eraser in hand) since I was a teen, at least. But this sketch was fun and really – dare I say it? Effortless. And I love it. I’m proud of it. I think I might frame it.  (Doesn’t hurt to draw your kids – that’s always a good enough excuse to frame anything!)

Now, leave a comment and tell me your definition of art.  Tell me where you are in the process of accepting yourself as an artist.  Any a-ha moments?


3 Responses

  1. first of all, Amy, thank you SO MUCH for visiting my blog and for the lovely comment. i do regard you as an ARTIST, so to have received praise from you seriously gave me a slight shiver.

    i’m a very self-critical crafter, and i can relate to your thoughts here. truthfully, isn’t it the pieces where we launch ourselves headlong into them, with pure disregard, we work up a sweat, we scramble and we get messy, of which we typically are most proud? NO ERASER! that’s a brilliant approach, and it obviously worked! your sketch is beautiful! (congratulations!)

  2. I love your sketch and you did it eraserless? *shiver* Definitely frame it! I’m at the stage where my partner and a couple of friends are telling me to go the Etsy route but I don’t think I am good enough. I stopped drawing and sketching a couple of years ago because I kept comparing myself to my sister who is one of those people that sketches to an almost photographic realism. I know I shouldn’t compare as our styles, interests, lives are so completely different so am going to start drawing again this year. (But it’s so hard NOT to compare isn’t it?)

    I never thought of it that way but I guess if you can’t live without creating you must be an artist! Thank you for that 🙂

  3. interesting argument – one that has plagued me for a couple of years now because i’ve always thought “art” or “artist” was some HUGE scary word that only an elite few are allowed to use.

    Anyways, late last year i had this ephiany that i art journalled about:

    I think i agree with you that art is what you define it to be, what pleases you, what fuels you … and if no one else likes it then eff them! But, really, i (maybe we in a general way) live our lives for other people’s opinions and it’s got to stop somewhere – at least where art is involved!

    Good job on the no eraser thing! I have a confession – one reason i like to use acrylic paint so often is that it acts like an eraser sometimes. But then again, i’ve always been a proponent of some mistakes are the most successful!

    And Carmen, yes, it’s human nature to compare, which is why i too have not dived into the world of etsy even though i nearly desperately want to … i admire people who just “go for it” and don’t care whether they sell things or not! I really really do….

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