Ask most people and they will tell you, no. The ones who do will invariably translate artist to painter or maybe sculptor. I believe everyone is an artist, or can be, because the definition is so much broader than painter or sculptor.
I started out in first grade just as everyone else. I was asked to color between the lines. I would reach for the oversize purple crayon. It was my favorite color. I would do my best to stay within the confines of the drawing that was provided to me as I colored my way along.
Sometimes, though, no matter how hard I tried I would stray outside the borders of the drawing. My teacher didn’t like it when I went outside the lines and would tell me so. I would feel bad when she pointed this out.
I am sure there was some purpose for urging us to try to stay within the lines. Probably something to do with developing eye-hand coordination or to better learn to take instructions. All I remember is I felt bad because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t always stay within the lines.
Looking back, the worst tragedy of the situation was not that we were asked to stay within the lines or the criticism for going outside of them. The worst tragedy was that we were provided template drawings to color in the first place.
It was frustrating. I stopped drawing. When someone asked if I was artistic I told them I couldn’t draw a stick. I held that view for most of my adult life. I was only trying to stay within the lines in life, on whatever templates were presented to me.
I have wondered lately, how much more of an enjoyable experience, how much better a learning experience, would it have been if we were just handed paper and crayons and asked to draw what ever we felt like drawing? Draw what ever made us feel happy all over and on the inside? To explore, to discover, to create.
I wouldn’t say the coloring exercise was without any tangible benefits. It just wasn’t the best experience for me. Because, the only emotional connection with the exercise itself was criticism for coloring outside the lines, with my absolute favorite colored crayon.
I believe the word artist should be redefined for what it does and not by what is produced. Art is created when an emotional connection is established between the art and the artist, the art and the observer, or both. Art, true art, is creating something which moves us emotionally.
Each of us have the ability to create using our unique natural talents and abilities. Each of us have the ability to express how we feel through what we create.
When we create something we can connect with emotionally, I rest you assured there is someone else out there who will feel that connection too. That is art. As such, we have an obligation to create using our own natural talents and abilities.
Your profession doesn’t matter. The vehicles or materials you use when creating don’t matter. If you are alive, engaged and can interact and connect with others on an emotional level through what you can create, then you are an artist. For no other reason, people are artists because they choose to be.
When I was in my 40’s, on a whim, I produced a large wall hanging of a stylized weeping willow tree out of hand hammered sheet copper and copper wire (photograph). I did it because I had reached a point in my life where I thought I could do more than what I was taught.
It was a big hit. I have had other pieces juried into art shows and all of them have sold. I have been commissioned to produce pieces for private collections and get more requests for sculptures than I have ever had time to produce. I have since discovered other ways to create art by writing, coaching, and speaking on topics for which I am passionate.
When creating art, the only “lines” are in the confines of the mind. There are no real lines you must adhere to when creating your art. So, create something using what you have, know and feel and pour yourself into it.
People will take notice and recognize you for what you have shared of yourself because of the emotional connection they will feel. It will help them in some way and they will thank you for it. They will call you, an artist.
Do you consider yourself an artist? If not, isn’t it time you do so?