Most of my life I didn’t consider myself an artist, and often I still have a hard time thinking of myself as one. Even while I was drawing, painting, sculpting, carving and creating most days, I didn’t think of myself as an artist. And though I was creating and “arting” and not only that, I was considered “good” at art, for some reason I did not identify with it. I would go in and out of seasons of creating as well and this challenged the thought in my mind of me potentially being an artist.
“How can I be an artist if I’m not arting?”
So in the seasons where I was creating art I didn’t feel like an artist, probably because I knew there was more to it than what I was experiencing, and when I wasn’t creating I definitely didn’t feel like an artist because “artists obviously make art”.
I took many art classes throughout school, particularly in grades nine through twelve, and I remember wanting to bring something deeper to what I created; some sort of meaning and purpose in what I was doing. There was one particular piece that I painted and when I finished I painted a Bible reference on the side. The value that is spoken of in this reference was not on my mind while I was creating that piece, but more of an afterthought when I was finished. I created something that I thought looked good as art and then slapped some purpose on the side.
Although this little addition to the piece did come from a heart to be purposeful and share the Love of God with others, the creation of the piece itself didn’t flow from that place. This resulted in a disconnected piece with a “side” of agenda. And though my desire was to paint with purpose I was in quite an immature stage of what that looked like.
The thing that I have realised about what it means to be an artist is this:
It isn’t the fact that I make art that makes me an artist, but that the things of my heart come out and are expressed in the form of art; this is what makes me an artist.
Because I don’t believe it is what we do that defines us. I believe it is who we are and who we believe we are that dictates what we do. This is actually the complete inverse to a rampant mentality that says, “You are what you do”. Many think this way and it is detrimental to the journey of an artist and devastating to a persons life when applied in other areas.
And to go further, being an artist is less of a matter of identity and more of a descriptive word. Because art and creativity, when done well, actually display and express the facets of one’s identity and heart as opposed to being their identity.
For example, with the painting that I tried to apply purposeful thoughts to could have been created from my knowledge of who I am as a child of God. Then at a glance of the piece one would have an encounter with the the truths that reside in me.
Understanding this has helped me a lot in my journey as an artist. You see, there is a lot less pressure that comes with being an artist because I don’t need to live up to it as my identity or maintain my reputation as an artist. I learned this when I learned my true identity as a child of God. A son who was created and is loved by a wonderful God who sacrificed his own life that I my have the ability to just be in Him. He made me ‘one’ with Him so that my life naturally produces the things of Him, because that is who I am. My identity is in Him.
This revelation is then expressed in every sphere of my life and the things that I create. And the things that are produced through my life flow from that secure place of knowing who I am instead of from an insecure place trying to prove to myself and others that I am an artist.
I am definitely still in the process of growing and understanding what my life looks like as an artist. What will I create? How will I create? These unknowns are no longer an insecurity but an invitation to a continuous adventure and exploration of who God is and who I am in him. And the things that are produced from that kind of a journey are full of awe and wonder.
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