I have a question for you today. This is one of three core questions that Eden Maxwell poses in his book 'An Artist Empowered.' A few weeks ago I did a review of this book and I have since been working my own way through the book during my artist date sessions. I have worked through several of the concepts and ideas that he presents in the book. One of the main ones he offers near the beginning of the book is the idea that there are three core questions we need to answer as an artist. These are as follows:
Why am I an artist
Where does my art come from?
What is the intrinsic value of my art?
Why are you an artist?
Of course, the answers will be as varied as the number of artists on the planet, however, it is still a very significant question.
What I found fascinating about this question when I sat down to answer it, was that I needed to change my story about how I came to be an artist. I realized that my previous story was dis-empowering and when I considered it, was not taking responsibility for the choices I had made. Unlike many artists, I didn't spend my childhood drawing, drawing, and drawing. It wasn't until I was around 15 that my interest burgeoned.
I was staying at my older brothers place on holiday at the time and found a set of watercolour paints and some paper somewhere there. Since I had nothing else to do, I decided to paint a picture of a pine tree. This was a 'big magic' moment for me. I became lost in the joy of creating and took a new interest in art at school after that.
However, the story I told myself later was that I went to art school and became an artist because I didn't know what else to do with my life. It is amazing how we create stories about things that happen in our lives, stories that are not true and yet we live them as if they are gospel.
So I decided to attend university and do a bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
And this is where things get interesting. In order to go to university, I had applied for a government grant and in return agreed to undertake teaching once finished with my degree. However, the teacher training college timetable clashed with my art degree - and even though I had the opportunity for solid income as a primary school teacher I decided to ditch the teaching and go with art school. Now, does that sound accidental to you? Well, it doesn't to me either!
My point is that until I did this exercise - writing it out on paper, these things had never occurred to me before. The result of this is that I feel so much stronger in my art practice now., embracing the real story of who I am as an artist. I would love to hear your stories - do this exercise and see what you learn about yourself and your art practice - and share with us....... please....