who do you say that you are

Inside you there’s an artist you don’t know about… say yes quickly, if you know, if you’ve known it from before the beginning of the universe.
— rumi
some of my very first artwork from journals and canvases 

I remember the first time I ever acknowledged to someone other than myself (and family and close friends) that I am an artist. It was sometime after that initial experience of my artist friend pushing a paint brush into my hand. Though I hadn't continued with any painting practice, I had developed the creative habit of visual journaling, art journaling. My journal went with me everywhere as I sought to capture my life, my experiences, my thoughts. 

I was self conscious about my practice, usually trying to hide in the corner of wherever I was. Shrinking into the background, I practicing observing my surroundings and my self within those surroundings. This was the exact time that my life was shaking and quaking. I was challenging my faith, my marriage was struggling to survive, our finances were on the edge. I was merely trying to survive. Creating art was a lifeline. 

This one particular Sunday, I sat on the back row of the church we attended, with my journal and a small bag of pastels. My mind was swirling with questions. I was seeking peace. At the end of that service, a woman walked up to chat and then said, "Oh, you're an artist?" In the second that followed, my mind raced with what to say. I didn't feel like an artist. I wasn't doing anything toward being an artist. I was just carrying around a journal and making marks in it. I gulped and I said, "Yes. I am an artist."

That was eight years ago. 

The words come easier now than they did then but still they are filled with doubts and questions. What right have I to call myself an artist? Have I been to art school? Have I had my paintings in a gallery? What type of art do I do? How do I describe my process? How to I wrangle the words to write an artist statement? Shouldn't I feel more sure of this path by now?

Let me tell you what I am doing about all those questions. I am not giving them the time of day. For too long, I allowed my energy go toward trying to answer those questions. Energy that could have spent on creating more art, on writing, on being in this glorious world. The questions are insatiable. It doesn't matter how many times you answer them, they still come back. So be gone questions. I have work to do. 

Who do I say that I am?

I am an artist. 

I create paintings and drawings. I like to play with words. I am immensely interested in making masks and it is something that I keep saying I am going explore. Fiber arts calls to me from time to time, mostly in the work of weaving. As you can see, my interests are varied. I am a very curious person. 

I did not got to art school. I have taken several online classes with the most life changing being Fearless Painting classes from Connie Solera. That is where I discovered my love of painting big. I believe that my art education is not inhibited by lack of a degree or time spent in art school. My art education is my responsibility and in with so many resources on just the other side of this computer screen, I am not limited at all. 

The most important thing, and the most difficult thing,  I have learned is not a particular skill. The most important thing I have learned is to trust myself. It all comes back to this. Every morning when I sit at this computer to write for this space, I have to sink into trust. Standing in front of the easel, I am reminding myself that I know how to do this. That trust has been learned through hours and hours of painting, art journaling, and writing.

Saying that I am an artist is just part of this equation of me. Another part is doing the work. I have finally reached a place where I cannot do anything else but consider this my full time work. I have put it on the back burner often. I have allowed anything to push it aside because this is just something I do in the in-between spaces. 

No longer. 

By saying that I am an artist, I am saying to myself and to the world that this is my full time work. Anything else other than my art work gets the leftover time and energy and resources. That is a radical statement for this mother soul to say. I am very practiced in giving myself away to others first. It's time for a new practice. 

I am an artist. 

This is who I say that I am. What about you? Who do you say that you are? How are you living your life in alignment with those words?