My older brother is the artist in the family. He’s sketched and painted numerous pieces over the years — many of which hang in my own home. As a wedding gift, he painted a picture of my children with our dog sitting on the edge of our cottage dock. That one holds a prominent place in my hallway.
His gifting and talent put shame to my little square house with smoke billowing out of a little crooked chimney.
I’m no artist — especially compared to him.
Sure I like to doodle (especially during long meetings at work) and I can spend hours colouring in the evenings but that does not make one an artist.
Or does it?
It got me thinking about my journey as a writer. I always dabbled in writing; keeping a journal as a child, writing dark poetry as a troubled teenager, creating odes to family members for special occasions. But I assumed a writer was someone who wrote literary masterpieces — without needing an editor.
Imagine my surprise (and joy) to learn that a writer is someone who writes.
Years ago, I attended a workshop called, “So you wanna be a writer.” It was the start of a beautiful relationship between me and pen and paper.
The day I proclaimed “I am a writer” freed and excited me.
As a writer, I write devotionals, nonfiction in the areas of health and wellness, children’s activity books, and I’ve even penned a novella. My writing on Medium has liberated me even further and I’ve written pieces on a variety of topics including:
a bio of Mother Teresa,
Is there a parallel between this journey from thinking I just like to dabble in writing to realizing that I am a writer, and the journey I’m about to embark on as an artist?
It actually made me think about how hard I can be on myself. Just the other day I caught myself saying that although I have Dutch blood flowing in my veins, I’m no gardener.
Wait a minute.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane. In my first home, I transformed the patch of dirt behind the backyard window into a pretty display of round cedar bushes. I created a welcoming display of red flowers at my next home. I completely overhauled my gardens with snapdragons, hostas, and impatiens. I’ve spent hours labouring in the dirt of gardens. I’ve researched different plants. I’ve transplanted plants.
I think it would be fair to say I garden therefore I am a gardener.
Which brings me back to the question of whether I can call myself an artist. I rudely and regrettably blurted out to Janis, “But you’re not an artist” in response to her gig to teach art to students in school.
In my mind, an artist was someone who attended years of Art School and created works of art for a living — someone who has a studio and does nothing all day but create art.
I’m not sure where this narrow definition originated. Same place I thought a writer had to write best selling literary fiction?
Janis graciously reminded me that she had been working with art for many years, she’s illustrated her own books as well as other’s books…even including my own children’s colouring book! Her work is featured in galleries and she sells it online and at markets.
So although I am far from being an artist like my brother or my friend, I like to doodle, I like to colour, and now I am starting to dabble in watercolour. I can say that, yes, I create pieces of art. My photography is another way in which I express my creativity.
I create art therefore I am an artist.
And as an artist, I plan to commit the same energy and years of study that I gave to learning the craft of writing and the tilling of my gardens.