Ever since I was little I enjoyed coloring, sketching, painting. It was a hobby I picked up and stuck with as I grew older. Throughout my younger years in school, with the art classes and projects, I stuck out. I loved every minute in the art room and was proud to show off my latest work.
But the first time I made a real commitment to art was my freshman year of high school. I can’t imagine not taking that class now, I so wish I could again. My art teacher, one of the only two, was utterly amazing and although he could be a little blunt, he knew what he was doing. He is who pushed me to come to his class to take more art classes, asked me every year why I wasn’t back with a pencil in my hand, and why I couldn’t fit it in my schedule. If I could go back…But that doesn’t matter now.
He was my art teacher who stirred his coffee with a paintbrush and if that doesn’t say artist, then I don’t know what does. That teacher is who I went to when I had nowhere else to go, when I couldn’t stand the lunchroom any longer, and who always welcomed me. I wish I could have given him more of my time.
Now, in college, I realized that I’ve never shared any of my work with anyone–not my family, not my friends, not even my boyfriend. I keep it hidden in my portfolio, away from the world, away from criticizing eyes, and away from unimpressed minds. I’m scared to show my work, to know that it might not be good enough, to call myself an artist and to feel like an artist, but not be an artist to others.
Its funny because I can write these words, put them into a post, and let the world read it. I don’t care about what people think of my writing. I don’t think I’m a great writer, I think I’ve been given some great opportunities, but I don’t think I’m anything special. I’ve been told some pretty amazing things about my words, about my articles, about whatever, and it makes me feel good, yes, but that doesn’t mean I believe in them.
The best compliment I’ve ever gotten (and I think that any writer can get) is when I was told my writing made someone smile and frown at the same time. I could not think of a better way to tell someone I enjoyed their work. But that one opinion won’t overshadow my own. It might be because I don’t care if I’m considered a great writer or not, so I can share my thoughts with all, I can be free to say what I want, to write what I want, and to believe what I want, because it doesn’t matter to me what others think about that.
But art is different to me. I want to be great. I want to be seen as an artist. I know that I am one, and that I spend hours poring over minute details, but I’m not seen as one. And I won’t be until I share my art. I just have to find a way to do that. And I let people see my process, the bits and pieces of sketches, the canvas of paints, leading up to the end, but never the final piece. Its a matter of getting there.
I was good at what I did in those classes. I was. I might not have been the best at every type of project, but I was good at what I loved. When I handed in my work, to be judged and graded and criticized by my teacher, he based it not only off of our foundations, but how we felt about each piece. Did I like it? Did I put in my all?
But that’s the thing with art, there is always more to do. More to edit, more to draw, more to erase. It won’t ever be exactly perfect, because art isn’t. So as an artist, you have to know when you want to call it quits, when to say you’ve done all you could, and when to let go. I think, for me, this is where I have trouble. This is why I can’t share my work with others. I can’t let anyone see it, analyze it, feel it, because I don’t know if its done yet. I don’t feel it yet.
So now I’m realizing, it isn’t the end piece that I need to feel. Its the time I put in, the eraser shavings under my palm, the lead in my hand, the hair in my face, the paper under my fingertips. Thats what I need to feel. And if I can do that, then I’ll be great in my own way. Then I can share my art with the world and let it all be.