Are You a Shadow Artist

February 14, 2008 at 8:46 pm (Uncategorized)

Do you find yourself standing on the outside, pressing your nose against the window of creativity? Watching those who you think have artistic talent with envy? Wishing that you were on the inside creating something worthwhile? There are many of you out there.

In her book The Artist Way, Julia Cameron calls these people shadow artists. They hide in close proximity to practicing artists. They buy art. They support the arts. They find occupations near the arts, or occupations where they can use their creativity in a sensible way. I believe there are many shadow artists living among us.

When I took my first painting class in college, I remember telling someone it was my hope to finish school and be a painter someday. When my professor heard me, he said, “If you paint, you already are a painter. And if you continue to paint, you will continue to be a painter.” That comment really took the mystique out of making art. When I make art, I’m an artist. There’s nothing special about it.

These labels we place on ourselves like artist, dentist, banker, clerk, painter, potter, are just words to describe what we do, not who we are. And the interesting thing is, is that we are never just one thing all the time. We are complex creative beings capable of holding many interests, and passions.

Are you a shadow artist? If so, it’s time to come out of the shadows. What excuses do you give for not making art? “If only I had more time. I can’t even draw stick people. My spouse, friend or family member is much more talented than I.” These excuses are based in fear. Don’t let the fear of not being good enough, or the fear of looking like you’re wasting time, or the fear that other people won’t understand stop you from making art. Making art is not about them. It’s about you.

Ask yourself, “If I could do any kind of art, what would it be?” or “If no one was ever going to see the result, what would I try?” Write these answers on a piece of paper. Then decide to explore that path in some way. What do you gravitate towards? Painting, film making, writing, quilting, making pottery, computer art, photography, drawing, collage. I am giving you permission to do it? You will find that as you start making art, your inner artist will come out of the shadows.

If you already are involved in some kind of art making, try something different that you’ve always wanted to explore. If you paint landscapes, try a self portrait. If you make pottery, try sculpture. If you seem to make similar types of art, think of something completely different and try that.

It’s good to let yourself take an artistic risk. For some reason, we tend to put so much weight to making art. Like we will die if it doesn’t turn out the way we want it. Try making art for the sake of the process instead of trying to create a product. So many times we fail to start because we think we need to create a final product that will be validated by others. We do not need a reason to make art. It’s in the doing that the magic happens. Just like life is not about your final day here on earth. Art making is not about the final result. Life is about the journey of daily living. And making art is about the journey of the process. We learn about ourselves in the making. What happens after the art is made is a completely different matter all together. Art Saves Lives!

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