Saturday, May 10, 2008

Weekend Chat Line...When did you first say "I am an artist"?

...The Fork and Spoon Club...

I've spoken to many emerging an artist and found referring to themselves as an artist is difficult. I had the same problem and in some circles, still find myself shying away from saying "I am an artist".

Just this past week I was at a funeral visitation and around family members that I hadn't seen in years. When ask what I was doing now, I responded by saying I was a hairdresser and did some pencil drawings...I was so angry with myself. What was wrong with me, why didn't I just simply say..."I am an artist"?

When I'm with my peers I don't have any problem calling myself an artist! I'll never forget the first time I said it out loud. I felt as though I had arrived.

My work was part of a group exhibit and several women were admiring "The Fork and Spoon Club". I heard one of the women ask, "I wonder where the artist is, I'd like to meet her?" I walked over and introduced myself as "the artist"...I felt so good.

What happened to me this week with my family, I don't know...but what I do know is this, by saying "I do some pencil drawings" instead of saying that I was an artist, I diminished the importance of my art and devalued it in the eyes of others.

I haven't found myself in this position for a long time and it will be a long time before I let it happen again...but I am still disgusted with myself yet today.

So I ask you: When did you realize that you were really an artist? Do you remember the first time you introduced yourself as an did you feel? Why do you think it is so difficult at times to say "I am an Artist?

The "Chat Line" is open...I'm anxious to here what you have to say. And as always, please feel free to comment on what others have to say.

To all Mothers...Have a Happy Mothers Day,
and a blessed weekend,


Website ...Marsha Robinett Fine Art
My Squidoo ...Drawing Techniques

PS...make a "Point"...leave a comment.


Nita said...

Oh, Marsha! ". . . SOME pencil drawings . . ."?!?!? --when they're the most "extraordinary" I've ever seen?!?!?

But I totally understand the way those words came out among family, especially distant family . . . to NOT want to deal with their judgments and pronouncements was perhaps the core behind what came out of your mouth. I'm a fledgling artist, but I don't show my work or even admit my blog to older relatives--they're so likely to point out how my drawing differ from what they think is "real art." I just don't want to have to deal with their attitudes.

But you ARE an artist and next time you'll handle it differently.

Rhonda Bartoe Tucker said...

Isn't it odd that many of us will present ourselves to the world as artists through shows, blogs, webpages - and the world accepts it as a fact. Then, when around people we call family and who love us, we shy away claiming our true selves? Took me a long time, too. I believe I began calling myself an artist after my work was in a show; that seemed to give me the "right" claim the title.

By the way, I had no idea you did some hair dressing "on the side", too!

Terry Rafferty said...

It seems to be a painful thing for all of us. The term "Artist" is loaded with so many meanings and associations. I find myself saying "I'm a painter" more frequently than not, rarely that I'm an artist. Family is the worst - my brother keeps asking when I'm going to get a "real" job - like working at MacDonalds is more validating. And like painting doesn't take hard work.
The things we create and the reasons we create them are so personal, so when someone expresses doubt or dislike of our work, it feels very personal, even when it isn't meant to be. Who needs to bear that kind of a burden - so we say things like "I'm a hairdresser".
I look up to you so much - the integrity of your drawings shines in each piece, and the work you put into the blogs and websites speaks to your professionalism as an artist. Your reaching out to other artists in forums like this helps us all.
I hope you will backtrack with whoever it was that you were speaking to - send her your website, and send this discussion too. She (or he) should have the opportunity to admire you and your work.
Having said that, I guess I will try to take my own advice and start standing proud with my work.

Marsha Robinett said...

Thanks for the compliments on my work. Your comments made me think. I don't feel I was afraid they wouldn't like my drawings, I don't know these people well enough for it to make a difference. I think that for a split second I didn't place the proper value on being an artist.

It's been difficult analyzing just why I reacted the way I did. After they found out I was an artist, we talked quite some time about the type of art I did and my summer show schedule. They were genuinely interested in what I was doing. The more we talked, the more ashamed I was that I had backed off from calling myself an "artist"...when most times I say it with pride.

I wish I could say that I did "some hairdressing on the side". Actually, my job as a hairdresser pays the bills. I still work Tuesday through Friday in the salon, (6am-1pm). I would give anything to be able to retire and just create my art in this last phase of my life...but I'm thankful for the income the salon brings in and thankful for the opportunity to create and show and sell my drawings.

I'm so sorry you don't have your families support. I have to say I've had nothing but encouragement from both family and friends.

I really think my reaction was the result of the creative struggles I had been going through of late. I usually call it "white paper fright"...but nothing had been working and I was beginning to question whether I had any artistic ability at all. My answer reflected this.

Your encouragement is so appreciated...If I talked to you once a day, I wouldn't have had this issue. Thank you so much.

Jeanette said...

Why does the word 'artist' create such fear in those who are just that? I think its more the public's perception that we fear, not our own skills.

We know there are plumbers and mechanics and bakers and others who work with their hands in this world and we don't question their motives or have a misunderstanding of what they do.

But for some reason, artists are misunderstood in how we work and how we put what is in our heads and in front of our eyes on paper, as if it is a magical process.

I do introduce myself as an artist sometimes. It depends on my audience. I've done so in business settings in informal conversations and there is mixed interest. In all my creative dealings, I introduce myself as an artist without hesitation.

As for when I first thought of myself as an artist. It was when I sold my first piece of work, many years ago. Each time I sell something or get positive feedback from my work, it reinforces my belief in myself as an artist and makes me more willing to announce it proudly to the world.

Michael said...


I don't remember the first time, but I do remember how uncomfortable I was when I first started. But the more I called myself an artist the more I started actually believing it myself. My current employment is with an eCommerce company. I do technical support. But when people ask me what I do, I tell them that I am an artist and a writer. Because that is who I am. It might not be what I do for a living, but it is who I am.

After many years of working with colored pencil, I recently started to get back into working with graphite. I have been inspired by many artists to attempt photo-realism. And now I am inspired by you as well. I think I have done well in reaching the level that I have reached. Now I am striving to reach your level.

Thank you for inspiring me.

Marsha Robinett said...

As with you, when with other artists or patrons I have no issues feeling like an artist...but that day in another environment I stopped for a moment and found I had difficulty saying it.

I like what you said about who you are...

"My current employment is with an eCommerce company. I do technical support. But when people ask me what I do, I tell them that I am an artist and a writer. Because that is who I am. It might not be what I do for a living, but it is who I am."

Thanks for the push...I need to think more about who I am, not what I do. I LIKE THIS!

PamYla said...

I really love this crab apple tea! The work makes you want to reach out and grab it..Bravo!

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