Timeout for Art: Coming up Empty


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I am an artist.

It took me many long years to learn to use those words to describe what drives me, what my passions are. For a long while I felt unworthy of the title. I’d say, “I like art,” “I’m an art student,” “I play around in art,” or “I’m working in the arts.” All of these reflect interest, but none imply achievement. Finally, I got over that barrier. I say “I am an artist.” Not only that, when asked to describe myself, that is usually the first thing that comes to mind. It has become the way I think of myself, on equal footing with mother, walker, feminist and writer. It is a big part of my identity.

I am an artist.

It doesn’t go away. This identity was slow in attaching itself to me, but now that it’s here, it isn’t fickle. Even when long days and weeks go by without time in the studio, it hangs on. Though sometimes I feel I have nothing to express through my art anymore, it stays with me. That’s good…because sometimes I just can’t bring it. No time and no energy leads to no inspiration, because inspiration isn’t a gift from the heavens, but just a by-product of daily tending. If I don’t put in the time, I don’t reap the rewards. It’s every bit as simple as that.

Still, I am an artist.

Though my children are grown and long-gone from my household…though it’s a rare occasion that I can even slip in a piece of advice…though I can see them each straining to not roll their eyes when I try to relate how I handled things…still, I am a mother. It’s at the very core of my identity; it won’t go away.

I think I will always think of myself as a walker, though my distance is not as impressive as it once was, and I let many other things get in the way. It has to do with how I feel about walking and how I feel when I am walking that holds its place in my list of personal identifiers.

My life is crowded with things to do…many are less important to my spiritual growth and well being than art, but demand my time anyway. I can’t always choose which way to best direct my energy. I have to consider obligations, commitments and the earning power of any endeavor. It might always be like this, though I’m wishing for better. No matter what, I am an artist.



9 responses »

  1. You are so beautiful and sometimes brutally honest about where you are in Life. yes, we are artists, and it’s like telling a eagle to perch on a petite limb and whistle a sweet tune when others want to place us in tidy little labels of identity.

    We are SO BLESSED to be unique, and yes, WE ARE ARTISTS!

    Don’t you dare change or have self doubt! There are times when we need to incubate, and other times we soar!

    I think you might find this Ted Talk highly amusing in places and also quite interesting.


  2. Those who know you have always thought of you as an artist. You don’t stop being that when there is a lapse in your output. You speak to us through your art. We don’t lose the title of speakers in our moments of silence. Whether you are creating at the moment or not; as long as someone has a piece of your art in their home you are speaking to them through that, and are therefore and will always be an artist.

  3. I absolutely hate it when someone asks, “what do you do?” That implies, “what do you do to earn a living?” The answer you give puts a label on you, and most times I don’t want that label to be associated with me.

    However, there are times one can be proud to be labeled as one thing or another. I’m glad you’ve embraced “artist” as one of your labels. And see, that’s the thing – none of us can be compartmentalized into just one label – no one can be identified as just one thing.

    I’m not really sure where I’m going with this (I should probably try talking it out on my own blog), but I’m glad you identify yourself as an artist, because you are that, in addition to so many other things.

    Yay you, Artist!

    • You have just reminded me of a list I made up – about a hundred years ago – when I found myself occasionally at functions where I felt that questions was designed to put you on a rung of a ladder, ether above or below the asker. It had possible answers to the question, “What do you do?” They included things like, “Me? I sometimes pee a little bit when I sneeze.” “I read a lot of poetry.” “I walk two miles every day.” “I eat breakfast in the car.” I doubt I ever pulled from the list for a real answer, but it always made me smile when I got the question!

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