Admitting what you are.

I walked into my studio this morning and something happened. I finally admitted to myself that I am an artist.

Understand, this should be nothing new to me.  I began drawing over thirty years ago and my drawings hang in a lot of people’s houses, sometimes as gifts (people saw drawings in my wall and wanted one), and at times, selling an odd drawing here and there. Last year, I began to take painting lessons so now I add watercolor to the mix.

Recently, I had the chance to hang a few paintings and photographs as a “fill in” at a local art gallery. They had a wonderful display of sculpture books that they were featuring, but after the show was curated and hung there were a couple of walls to fill, and I got the chance to display some work. Much to my surprise, a couple of them have sold.

What makes us an artist? Just doing art? Selling art? The place creating art takes in our lives?

After I began to learn to paint, I converted a room in my house to a studio space. In a day of madness, I had to re-arrange 4 rooms to move things around and make the room work as a studio. Now I have a place to work, which is slowly becoming cluttered and over run with new paintings and drawings.

I didn’t have to buy anything new to create the studio. I had everything, the drawing table, the brushes, paper, tools, all of it. It was just scattered around my house here and there. I had to move things out of the room to make room for the drawing table, and move things in the room to give me storage for the art supplies. I rewired a light to bring more light into the room at night. (in the day, I have two wonderful windows.). Creating a space brought focus to it, but it was all there before.

But that was months ago. And even then after giving art a larger part in my life, I didn’t immediately start admitting I was an artist. I don’t know what changed. Why this morning I looked around and said. “I am an artist.”.

I’ve been through this with other things in my life. I have a masters degree in creative writing from Hollins and have been writing poetry, prose, articles, and all kinds of things for over thirty years. When I was in school I would call myself a writer, but years of being a grownup went by and I stopped. I didn’t stop writing. I just stopped indentifying myself as a writer.

The same thing with photography. People pay me to do it. People have bought my photographs to hang on their walls. Yet I didn’t really call myself a photographer.

Over the past year though, I began to do more and more of both writing and photography. I began to realize that even when we called it “marketing” or “documentation”, it was still writing and photography. That it was these two expressions that really defined what I do, what I LOVE to do. And I finally began to call myself what I always was, a writer and photographer.

The same with art. I LOVE doing it. I love the creation. The experimenting. The ability to fail and try again and it’s OK. I love it when what I envision actually happens, or when an experiment creates something beautiful. It energizes me in the same way writing and photography energize me.

And that is what has been slowly sinking in, I think. That in reality we aren’t what we do. We may think we are. How often have you, in the midst of introductions, defined yourself by your job, even if your job is just something that fills time and pays you money, not something you are passionate about? I’ve done it lots of times.

But you are more than that. I am more than that.

So what, you ask? Well, here is what I, at 57 years old, am finally learning.

We can become a self fulfilling prophecy. If we define ourselves as we are, as our hearts really are, our chances of having those things we love in our life increase.

Can I explain why? No. But you read about it all the time. There’s a whole genre of books that go back generations that have theories galore about why it works. Call it “The Secret” or the “Law of Attraction” or “Synchronicity” – all terms from popular books on the subject. I don’t care what you call it.

I just know it works.

When I define myself as a writer, artist and photographer, opportunities in those things, which are the things I love, HAPPEN.

I still don’t know why the switch turned this morning. Maybe it was just an accumulation of things that finally took on a critical mass in my mind. Maybe it was some sort of revelation. Maybe it was something else. I really don’t care. Just the fact that the switch clicked is enough.

I am an artist.

Who knew? Well now, the universe does. I can’t wait to see what happens.

Take care. Travel wisely,

Tom

Lesson 9

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