Yesterday I took two of my paintings to be framed. It was my third time to bring custom to a framer in as many months. Because I anticipate having more works to frame I decided to enquire about getting a discount. I suddenly had the verbal equivalent of stage fright and found myself choking on the (very simple) words I had already consciously decided I would use in my asking.
"Do you have an artists discount?"
Six. Simple. Words.
One big internal resistance. Something inside of me was reluctant to allow me the title of 'artist'.
What is so wrong with that? Could it possibly be true?
Later that day I caught myself in a bathroom mirror and introduced myself (to myself) as an artist.
It felt... positive, satisfying, empowering... some little part of me danced with delight, she came to life, animated and bursting the seams of her spirit. That she may get the chance to embody this identity was a validation she had been waiting a lifetime for. It was like injecting myself with permission.
Still, there was a part of me that whispered:
"Shhhhhh!! Not yet. You're not an artist yet! In fact, you're not an artist at all until you have a studio.. an exhibition, people who will buy your art. Just stay with the 'hobby' angle and don't attract that kind of attention. People will start expecting the output of an artist from you. You haven't proved anything yet. Its early days. You might not stick with this you know. You have a long way to go yet. How could you pass yourself off as an artist to 'real' artists!
Oh dear... I know this voice. But strangely enough it didn't evoke in me the shame and subservience it usually does. I heard it... I've heard it all before only this time the part of me that would normally agree and retreat didn't seem to appear, at all. Where is she gone?
I think she was the one who was hiding inside with the belief that what she wanted wasn't to be risked by striving. She was the one who felt bad about herself and who lived through space and time with the mistaken belief that she was right to feel that way. That she was a nuisance who's dreams couldn't be realised and were just silly notions that got in the way of reality. She was in the habit of colluding with the critic who told her that.
I now trust the critic had good reason to believe there was a protective function in her reminding the little artist 'it's not safe for you out here'. They are parts that have, until now, operated together, parts of me who were in agreement that this side of me should not be indulged.
My little artist no longer agrees, she no longer bestows authority to her protector. She is no longer afraid because she is in her own and rightful, handmade shoes. She has taken her seat in the parliament of me and she has a manifesto that she is happy to put forward.
She believes in the spirit of who she is... at last. She is an artist.
“Creative expression derives directly from the unique Self of the creator…I believe the whole process is accompanied by a feeling of aliveness, of power, of capability, of enormous relief and of transcendence of the limits of our own body and soul. The ‘unique self’ flows into the world outside. It is like giving birth.”
Annemarie Roeper [Quoted in the book The Gifted Adult by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen, PsyD.]
Always, Amanda <3