About 9 months ago, I decided to to "out" myself. I started by uploading art to my Facebook profile. Then I revived this blog, which was defunct for several years, and added my name and more information about me. I hung my paintings in my house and made prints of them to "abandon" around town.
Slowly, I've been putting myself out there, identifying as an "artist," as opposed to using art as another form of journaling done just for myself. It makes me feel naked, though, like this image I did last year in my journal.
Now I find myself at a crossroads of sorts, where one part of me wants to give myself over to art, especially in terms of ways to make a living and spend more of my time. But another part of me thinks "Who do you think you are?"
My husband is a consummate marketer--he keeps working on arranging opportunities for me, which is fantastic. But at the same time, I find myself getting freaked out by them. I could teach an art class for older people at an assisted living community near us, but "Oh my God? How to do that?" and "Who am I to think that I could teach someone else how to make art?"
I could exhibit at a local coffee shop, but then "OMG--who do I think I am?"
I think it's about identity and about being seen in another way. I'm pretty confident as a self-employed business owner where I make my living selling my intellectual skills and expertise. But art asks for something different. It asks for your soul and for you to share what feels like very private pieces of yourself in a way I'm not used to.
And to complicate matters, I'm not one of those "born to be an artist," kinds of people. I didn't spend my childhood obsessively drawing and taking art classes. I didn't actually start making any kind of art until about 10 years ago. So "Michele Martin, Artist" still feels like an outfit I've tried on, rather than something deep within my skin.
But that's OK. Because one of the biggest messages I've gotten from my own personal art experiences is that art is PERSONAL. And it's something we can all make. And it's not about the product, it's about the PROCESS. How do we feel while we're doing it? Do we look at the finished piece and feel a sort of satisfying "clunk" deep down in our souls that says "yes, I did this and it's complete and it says exactly what I need it to say."
I'm writing this post to remind myself that I I need to stop asking myself "Who are YOU to call yourself an artist?" Because art is about an approach to life, it's about creating and expressing, something we're all born to do. I can take the risks if I just remind myself that everyone should have that opportunity to express themselves. And sometimes what you create speaks to other people too.