Artist Confidence: To Be or Not to Be

Shakespeare said it but I never really knew what it meant until I decided to retire from teaching a week ago. I sat on my patio in Florida and looked up ‘Be’ in Webster’s and it said, “to exist”.  After pinching myself, I realized I do exist but that was not the information I needed.  My friends said that I should just ‘be’ and rest, to refocus and shift my gears.  Well, I am an action person, so refocusing to me means change direction, plan, execute the plan and grow.

I have a mirky art plan so it is not well anchored; I have some idea of how I should start but it has shadows at the edges and I need to envision it more clearly.  How then can I proceed to the growth stage?  In a nutshell, I am back to where I started, ‘to be’.

If you want to learn how to make art, I can teach you. If you want to know how to find your artistic voice, I can show you. If you want to understand how to put together an artist’s portfolio, I can explain it.   If you want to know how to write an artist’s statement, I can instruct you.   So, why can’t I figure out what I am going to do next in retirement?   I guess it will include all of the above that I was going to teach you.  Who was it who said,”Round and round we go, and where we stop, nobody knows?”

First, I need to see myself as an artist again.  I have been a teacher, a Registered Nurse and I lived in those identities for years.  Sometimes, I was comfortable to switch back an forth and still create.  This is different.  I need to ‘see’ myself as a professional artist. I have all the head knowledge and I even taught it for years.  However, the proving ground for me, is NOW.   In teaching, we call this part of the learning process synthesis;  applying what we have learned.  Is this where you are?

Growing in art is like growing from a baby to a toddler and then into puberty and finally to an adult.  It takes time and living in it until it becomes yours. This is a decision time for you.  Every artist reaches this point of choice.  If you just like to play in art because it is pleasurable, then do it.  If you really have a passion for it and want to get serious and grow, that will take commitment and dedication but the payoff is big. You will have an inner satisfaction that you are using the gift that the Creator gives every one of us.  I truly believe this!   I have seen it unleashed in my students and they were amazed with themselves. Believe it is there.  Believe you have it and can use it.  Trust.