Friday, April 8, 2011

I Am An Artist.

There. I said it. And I'm not just speaking metaphorically. I actually said, "I am an artist." I said it, thought it, typed it and left it standing there all alone.

By itself.

For everyone to see.

So why has it taken me almost 40 years to admit it? Why is it actually easier to admit to being almost 40?!! Why, when my favorite thing to do for as long as I can remember has been to draw, am I hesitant to say I'm an artist?

As the story goes, I've been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon in my little fist. My grandfather worked for a printing company and he would bring my brother and I the end rolls of paper every now and then. I can remember rolling the paper across the room and drawing for hours. I'd draw my family, the dog, houses, trees, birds, flowers, horses, clouds, rainbows, the ant walking by on the paper ... I'd draw anything and everything and I loved every minute on the floor surrounded by paper and crayons.

Then somewhere along the line I lost my love for drawing. Oh, I still drew, but I got older, I got busier and drawing got lost in the shuffle of school, friends, soccer and other "more important" things. So I took some art classes and drawing became a hobby.

In college, I majored in graphic design because I wanted to do something creative, but I also wanted to be able to pay my bills and buy food and maybe put gas in the car I'd have one day. At eighteen, I wasn't convinced I'd be able to do that on an artist's salary. I minored in illustration because I liked to draw, but I didn't think I'd make any money at it, so really what was the point in wasting time drawing.

Fast forward about ten years and I found I didn't really even consider myself creative anymore. I'd worked in marketing and advertising since graduating from college, but in August of 2006 I was a stay-at-home-mom with two kids who occasionally did some freelance graphic design. Sometimes I'd draw something — a portrait of a friend's dog, an illustration for our yearly Christmas card, a car for my son or a flower for my daughter to color — but I wasn't an artist.

One day, while my kids had their crayons spread across the kitchen table, I realized I was jealous. I missed drawing — not drawing for a grade or as a favor or to get paid. I missed drawing simply for the pleasure it gave me. As I watched my children giggling, playing and having fun, I realized I wanted that part of me back. And that realization started my sketchbook habit.

What began as a way to share stories about my children (a.k.a. The Punks) with family has gradually morphed into this blog. I've posted my sketchbook pages along with snippets of my days as a stay-at-home-mom. Now that my Punks are in school, I find that I don't have as many funny moments and I've been struggling to come up with things to write. I've even considered trashing this blog altogether, but at about 3:00 this morning I changed my mind.

I hope you'll bear with me, because I don't consider myself a writer, but I'd like to share the story of my journey to becoming a sketchbook-aholic and maybe some tips and tricks I've learned along the way. I'll still be posting sketchbook pages and stories about the Punks, but I'm going to shift the focus a bit.

If you'd like to follow along, I'll label this and any related posts with "I Am An Artist" — if I keep saying it soon I'll believe it — so they'll be easier to find. I have a icon with the same name at the top right to bring you to this beginning post and if you're interested, feel free to grab it below.

Right click on the image (ctrl-click for mac users) and save it to your computer. Different blogging applications have ways of adding images to your blog and you should be able to find a section with instructions in the help menu.

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Part 1 of my I Am An Artist series
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29 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your journey. Look forward to hearing more. Any tips and tricks you share with us would VERY much appreciated!!!!

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  2. Life is a constant process of morphing and changing--and sometimes revisiting. You are most definitely an artist! Whatever you do for the joy of it is food for your soul. You have been feeding your artist's soul.

    Keep saying it. Believe it. Because you are. :):)

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  3. Karen, I hope you don't trash this blog as i have been a fan for years. I definitely consider you an artist. You are an inspiration to me and I aspire to draw as well as you do. I will continue to visit your blog as long as you have it.

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  4. I can relate to this completely and look forward to following along. I love your ART!

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  5. Karen, you are a very good artist and seem to do quite well with the writing. The timing of your post is interesting, as a blogger I follow was just musing about getting up the guts to call herself a writer. If you'd be interested in her perspective, you can read it here: http://fimby.tougas.net/evolution-of-a-writer

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  6. Thanks ladies! I appreciate all of your kind comments and well wishes.

    Cheryl ... thank you for pointing me in Renee's direction. I'm enjoyed her post and frankly, am encouraged to find I'm not the only one taking a creative leap today. I'll definitely be following along on her journey!

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  7. Thank you Karen, you're an inspiration. "I AM AN ARTIST!", too. I haven't been able to say that with confidence for very long, either.
    Cheers!

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  8. Tahirih ... Thank you! I hope knowing other artists struggle through the same ups and downs will help us all push through those rough spots. Or at least have the patience to wait until they pass.

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  9. What fun- I will surely follow along, and I can understand the search for inspiration very Well! and YES, you are an artist!

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  10. Karen - you said something that really hit home
    "I missed drawing simply for the pleasure it gave me." I'm nowhere as good as you, but inside my mind, every time I pick up a pencil (using a pen would mean I would have to commit to the line just drawn) the nasty voice inside my head says "you're not good enough - why bother who will care - you're drawing will look stupid". But it's the process, the joy of just DRAWING, seeing what comes from my head and goes into my hands.

    I will enjoy following your journey Karen - thank you for sharing.

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  11. Oh Karen... I find it amazing that you have ANY DOUBT ... you are an artist... and one that I have admired for several years now. I even study your lettering which is always as beautiful as your drawings.... Never stop drawing... you inspire so many people really you do. I'm going to use your logo to link to your blog... super Idea.

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  12. Am glad you're not giving up the blog! I'll definitely be following along, love your art and your words.

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  13. This is a very inspiring story especially for me. I have not been able to get to the point where I create with any regularity and calling myself an 'artist' is about as far from the truth as I can imagine. Look forward to hearing more from your point of view but perhaps the bigger hope is that it will finally get me to speak from my own. Thank you.

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  14. @ Sandy ... Thanks! I wasn't sure if people would be interested, but I know I enjoy reading how other artists find motivation and inspiration.

    @ Digital Grace ... I really think every artist hears that voice at one time or another. Our inner critics can help us grow and strive to master new skills, but if we take them too seriously they can stop us all together. The trick is figuring out how to occasionally tell them to stuff a sock in it! ;-)
    And btw, I almost always draw a rough sketch in pencil first. The control freak in me won't let me just go straight to ink.

    @ Elaine ... Oh my gosh, of course I have doubts. I hope that if people take anything away from this, it's that everyone has doubts about their talents and gifts. That's why I've become such a big fan of sketchbooks. Some of the pressure of MAKING ART is gone with a sketchbook. It doesn't have to be perfect, it's for experimenting and learning. And if you're still uncomfortable, don't show it to anyone else. Draw, feed your soul and then close the cover.

    @ mrana ... Thank you! I am a big fan of your work and that means a lot to me!

    @ Nahellenia ... I know it's tough to take the first step. I hope you do, too!

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  15. I am an artist too. I just started saying this publicly and it makes me nervous....I suppose because I don't really make money at it, I feel like a bit of a poser. But it is my passion. It's what gives me joy. My story is similar to yours, but without an art/design education (I started it, but did not finish). I started saying "I am an artist" out loud recently, because I realized that folks around our town have seen enough of my stuff to know what I'm up to...but I need to own it.

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  16. @ PedalPower ... My husband likes to remind me that Van Gogh, my hero, never sold a painting in his lifetime. I follow your your blog and your images on Flickr and you are definitely an artist! Believe it.

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  17. Karen , I found your blog and when I saw that I Am An Artist.. I thought ... I wrote that as a first line on my bio.. but every time I look at it I think well maybe , was I trying to convince myself..?? I've painted forever, and in my life forever is a long time.! and this past weekend I just did my first public Art Walk ... not a big deal, but it was for me.. I'm going to look at all your 'stuff' .. and joining you here...

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  18. @ Barbra Joan ... just spent some time on your site and flickr feed and I love your florals! You have that spontaneous style that I love. I just can't seem to loosen up and let the watercolor do it's job like you do. Thanks for visiting and I'm off to spend some more time with your work.

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  19. thanks Karen, I have you as a contact on flickr, and I love your work. Can I put this Iamanartist on my blog in the side bar? I put a link to your blog. i don't have many followers, as I am just starting out but thought someone else would enjoy your posts/art:) Fran

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  20. Karen, I'm not sure how I stumbled in your blog a few days ago but I think it is just what I was hoping to find. I love reaing about your sketching journey and hope to restart my journey. Tonight I start with #1 on the EDM Challenge List. Cross your fingers for me.

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  21. Hey Karen,

    I'm so glad you're not trashing this blog. I've been enjoying it for years. I love your work. I was even inspired to try gouache after seeing it on your list of art supplies.

    Keep doing what you're doing Karen. You inspire so many people. I know you inspire me.

    Looking forward to reading your new posts.

    Mellanie

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  22. nice post dear blogger

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  23. Karen, you may have noticed I rarely check your blog, or anyone else's for that matter, not enough time in the day. But I have to agree with you whole heartedly, you ARE an artist, absolutely NO question about it!! So hang in there and keep having fun!

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  24. THIS IS BEAUTIFUL!!!!! I so feel you on your story. I will be brave to grab that icon one day and place it on my blog ;)

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    1. Thank you! Grab it now! We're all creative and it's time we admitted it!

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  25. Can definitely relate to this - I'm in my 40s and not long started drawing and painting again after years and years, since I left school. I don't consider myself an artist yet, I just love painting but hopefully one day I'll be able to say those words!

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  26. Thanks Sharon! It always makes me feel better to know I'm not the only one struggling to find a way to incorporate art into my life. Good luck on your journey!

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  27. I've felt the same way. I am an artist. (but am I really?) You have described me to a T. I actually have a Master's degree in...Library Science (you thought I would say Art, didn't you?) because I didn't think I could really do art for a living. It seems so hard to incorporate my artwork into my life...but I've recently found that I have a gaping hole in my life without my art.

    Honestly...sometimes I know that I cannot stand to read another book or read a review or come up with a lesson plan to teach some kid how to research or cite sources. My passion really is art...but I'm stuck trying to pay the bills with something practical.

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  28. I just read this for the first time and had to comment. Saying "I am an artist" is a huge deal for a lot of us, and I've had my own journey to come to this place. I made a similar claim out loud about five years ago and have felt so much more like MYSELF ever since. To thine own self be true... We are artists!

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Thank you for visiting! I'm so happy you stopped by!

XOXO
Karen