Great discussion, Su!
I think I knew I was an artist ever since I was 5 years old and had fantasies in kindergarten of drawing huge murals across the chalkboards in class. Sometimes our teacher would give us all a piece of chalk and let us draw for 10 minutes on the chalkboard, and I often drew horses, but they looked funny and I could never figure out why, until another kid would point out that I forgot to draw the mane.
As a kid I had big ideas for paintings and drawings but I never had the right materials to work with - there's only so much you can do with poster board and glitter. I actually remember being frustrated with poster paints because they just turned muddy and dull whenever I'd try to mix colors.
By the time I was a teenager my parents started taking more of an interest in my art and bought me proper art supplies. When I finished high school I pretty much knew that my future career would revolve around art in some way.
I consider myself very lucky that my parents nurtured my creativity and noticed my penchant for art, because many people never receive that kind of support or encouragement at home. I hope that here at the Art Colony we can provide a safe, fun and encouraging atmosphere so that everyone who visits feels empowered to explore their creative, artistic side!
Like Thaneeya I think I always knew I was an artist, although that got a bit lost with life etc until a few years ago. However, I think it's only in last year that I've been introducing myself as an artist and hearing others say "this is Sue, she's an artist". Every time someone says it I get a tingle of excitement.
I've only been making art on a regular basis the last year. I've always had a creative spirit and dabbled in lots of arts and crafts through the years. I was a quilter for quite some time and then became a plush toy maker (currently that is my business).
But as far as the first time someone called me an artist, it was recently. I shared this story with Suzanne but I will share it here again. I recently took my 8 year old son to a drawing workshop for kids. The instructor introduced himself and then my son asked him if he was an artist. The man said yes. Then my son said, "My mom is an artist too." I got so embarrassed. My cheeks got hot and I walked away before he could ask me any questions. I don't feel like I'm qualified to consider myself an artist since I have had no formal training and have only been doing this for less than a year. I have always admired artists and their talents and have wished I could do what they do. I see now with lots of practice, I can get some good results. I'm having lots of fun on this journey and look forward to see where it will take me. I continue to learn as much as I can and experiment with different mediums and styles. I don't think I've found my style yet.
I can relate to Stephanie feeling embarrassed. I, too, am new at this. I've had a passion for art since elementary school and took art for four years in high school. Life happened, I left my passion to advance in a career, marriage, and three children. Yet 24 years later, my husband bought me a large art supply which re-ignited my love for painting. I created an art studio in our basement. I've been painting now since December of 2009 and have sold several pieces in 2010. A few months ago, one of my relatives introduced me to a friend and said I was an "artist". I blushed because I had never been called this and didn't feel adequate to hold the title. I've never had any formal training or schooling other than highschool which was a distant memory. Since then, I'm becoming more used to the idea and am aspiring to further my abilities. I'm entering two paintings in a local art contest for new artists. I only wish to receive a critique from the local/regional artists who will be judging my work. I don't expect to get far, but I'm taking the first step to see what could potentially lie ahead for me. These stories are great to read and I love that you posted this question!
Thank you so much for sharing this Susan. I believe this is a critical conversation for developing artists. It is one I am often engaged in with coaching clients. We often circle around this way of defining "real" artists as something we are not. I still consider myself a developing artist. I did not go to school for art, I went to school for work. I never believed it would be possilbe to make a living as an artist so I studied communication and graphic design.
Art has always had a way of finding me no matter what i was doing for work. It squeezes into the cracks of my life and keeps me following my heart into the next creative exploration that catches my eye. I teach art in community education programs to help myself remember to make time to create. I often work with older women who haven't picked up a pencil or a brush since high school. They have time now. And a longing to give voice to those creative urges that have been bubbling inside for many years. I am so happy to hear that you are listening to yours!