Tag Archives: artist

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.

 

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This old shoe is one of a pair that – tied together by their old, worn laces – hang from the knob on my studio door.

By today’s standards, they are pretty simple – though badly worn out – sneakers.

When they were new, back in the summer of 1972, they were glorious!

White canvas with red and blue vinyl accents, thick white laces, rounded toes. When plain white tennis shoes were the norm, these seemed very special to me.

I had recently become a mother, which changed my life and altered my perceptions more than anything else, ever! It filled my head with ideas. It spurred me to become the best person I could possibly be. My little family had moved to a cottage on Lake Pleasant. My husband and I had big plans for remodeling and modernizing it, for using it as our home base as we raised our family and traveled the world, one adventure after another. I had taken over a corner of the front porch as an area to make art.

I saw myself as a young wife, good mother, creative person, all-good-things-await optimist…with a little hippie, flower-child funkiness thrown in for good measure.

These shoes underlined that image.

I wore them with jeans and shorts and sundresses. I wore them as an irreverent touch with dress slacks. I wore them as I walked with my little daughter as she took her first steps…and for many steps afterward. I wore them as I took my first baby-steps into thinking of myself as an artist.

I wore them until the rubber soles lost their tread and cracked, until the canvas was in shreds, until my perfect little life with all of its “happy ever after” had proven itself to be an average life, with normal struggles.

I’ve lost or tossed away many of the plans and dreams I had as that young optimist.

I never could bring myself to throw away the shoes.