When did I become an Artist? It's always seemed a journey and a goal, something that I would be, someday if I was very lucky. Sometimes even being told by friends and family, I still didn't FEEL it. Most of the time I was too busy enjoying the media, still learning techniques and rules of media so I could bend and toy with them. It's all about practicing....I was practicing the way someone would play an instrument or dance. The history and technique is a part of the process and that is what we do first. Something is sparked so we investigate it. Then we experiment and continue to practice. We don't wear a badge to tell the world, we just do what we love. We are defined by many things that are a part of our life and Art is just the place where we go quench the thirst of our spirit. It is the same with all of the arts.
As a child I took oil painting lessons while my friends sold Girl Scout Cookies. As a teen I apprenticed and worked my weekends beside a China painter. For no payment mind you.. to learn about the media and techniques. Then I was off to Art School and then College. Even with degree in hand.. to me I wasn't an artist yet. Art was a side thing for me, a love, a drive... a calling. I knew in my head that I would have to work for a living if I wanted to live Upstate and the chances of making a living off from my art would be difficult at most. I made Art to feed my spirit ( I was still practicing mind you), I worked other jobs to feed me. I did work several jobs that had nothing to do with my degree and somehow that seemed to be part of the times. As I taught decorative painting, I still didn't feel it. When my life changed through Netty, I was apprenticing again.. it was still the journey and I was still practicing.
I'm a single Mom now and have been for several years. It took all of three years to weigh the pros and cons of licensing and I'm comfortable with knowing that I am making a living for my daughters and I. I used to think my work was too whimsical to be art, but whimsy has a place too. I found myself looking back and realizing that Arts really do dance with so much of what was a part of our schooling, whether we chose to continue our education beyond High School or not. To continue education was well worth my time and effort. We all start out as "self taught" but I wanted more and I was fortunate to attend college. I have learned many things from my professors. It doesn't change your gift, it is knowledge gained and can enhance it. History, sciences and math do touch the arts without us realizing. We look back and realize that they have danced beside all along. We reach towards what inspires us and naturally delve into much the time period of the inspiration, the science of technique and the measurement of math if we pay attention to our steps. It is similar in all the Arts. You don't have to search for it, it dances beside you while to follow your heart. Art isn't forced, it happens. We make art to please ourselves. I have been fortunate that my work is not only a self expression of me, but so many others enjoy it also.
I know now that I am an Artist. It didn't come with a degree or just giving myself a title... it came on the heels of time and thirst for knowledge, starting with the media. It hasn't been with the journey of a year, but with many. It comes with an open mind that knows that you can learn many things if you just listen to those around you. It's not letting an ego get in the way and not taking it all for granted. I came to this place with a wonderful gift and yes... I can now say I've reached THAT part of the journey... but it's way not over yet! I will do it to the day I die. It is nothing that one retires from. It's who you are if it's truly a gift.