13 Musings About Being an Artist

What is an artist?  I’m asked this question a lot. It comes up in various flavors and in a smorgasbord of conversations. I don’t have a pat one-size-fits-all artists answer, but I have a few thoughts about some attributes for artists like me.

What does an artist look like?

What does an artist look like?

  1. We don’t always wear black, although, I did have a black uniform phase. Black creates a dramatic back drop for color, texture, shape and line. So it works for wardrobe, canvas, or mat board.
  2. We’re not a weird as you think. However, we do have certain opinions, many of which we just keep to ourselves. We’re not interested in what others think much of the time, because our minds are busy creating. So we may project weirdness to push you away, so we can happily keep thinking about our projects.
  3. We are keen observers. We see and understand things you may never experience. You may think we’re airheads, but some of us like it this way. Then we can be entertained by what goes on around us without needing to explain ourselves.
  4. We’re human and screw up a lot of the time. And we make plenty of messes, but they’re necessary to our life’s purpose of creating. It seems chaos must come first.
  5. Few of us are rich enough, but most of us would like to be. At least we’d appreciate receiving fair pay for our labor. Remember you have to pay for all those practice paintings, and unpublished writings, too. That’s how we got good enough for you to want our art.
  6. We do fight amongst ourselves, at least in private circles. Artist’s communities are true enigmas. And the difference in our opinions can be baffling and unkind at times.
  7. We struggle with creative license and who did it first. We want recognition for our uniqueness. There really is an artist’s ego. But, it’s just our bane, we’ll create anyway.
  8. Some of us will never grow up, and some don’t want to. Part of being an artist is to keep our future options open. Another part is not wanting to leave the playground.
  9. The best of us can see the future, even though it can be hard to illustrate for others. That’s why some people just don’t get the art when they go to a museum.
  10. We’ll never stop. We don’t get retirement. We’re born this way and we’ll be creating until our last breath.
  11. We tire of critics and self-appointed experts. You are not as knowledgeable as you think. If you really want to help us — give money instead. We can always use more supplies and practice.
  12. There are lots of artist wanna-bes. Just because someone dresses the part (and other than all black, handmade jewelry, unusual hair or shoes, I’m not sure what that look is) does not mean that they can create great art. However, I encourage everyone to try.
  13. Real great art comes fearfully from the soul. It encounters risks and rules tempo. Real artists allow great art to master them.

What do you think being an artist is about? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


So, I have this crazy idea. I get asked a lot about the books I read for creative stimulation. I believe in the magic of synchronicity and the amazingly creative journey it will take you along. Books are an important tool I use to keep my ideas primed. My crazy idea? I’m thinning out my library of cool books. Instead of donating them I want to give them away in a drawing. Here’s how it works. Read my blog and leave a comment (or click on the comment box symbol in the upper right beside the title). I’ll pick one commenter and they’re the winner of a great book chosen for that blog post. Make sure you have a valid email so I can contact you to let you know you won a book and you can tell me where to send it. I keep your address private and pay for shipping.

A few facts about the books: Yes they’re a few years old and yes they’ve been read already. But, hey aren’t we all?! I need to make room for my new stories, and all my books have nuggets of treasure just waiting for you to discover. Oh, and just for fun I encourage you to try the Magic “8” Ball approach that taps your intuitive side. Ponder a question, open the book you won to a random page and read for your inspiration or answer. It works!

This idea could truly open up a new perspective for you and me. Please give it a try, share with your friends and post your replies often to win.

(Photo courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom at freedigitalphotos.net)


Summer Blitzing

I don’t know about you, but as an artist I can get excited about pretty much anything. I love to let ideas tumble through my mind, and sometimes to distraction from my real creative work. As summer heats up in the north country, all I want to do is sit and dream. This is the summer blitzing phenomenon, that makes me feel light and fluttery, bouncing from one thought to another. In this mindset, I can’t do much physical or outdoor work, which is what we northerners save up and take advantage of doing in summertime. Frankly, it’s too hot to be outside anyway, so I need to work inside looking out. Gazing through windows is definitely dream time, however learning to do so with purpose can be mind bending. I have to remember to plan time for and call this activity passive work, and set limits on how much of it I can afford to do given my other commitments, but it’s always worthwhile.

One way to make idea spinning meaningful is to record what you see, sense, discover or ask about the experience. Your observations might come in handy to solve your current or future creative challenge. I also like recording mine, because it sets limits due to the media used, and makes the time a part of my real artistic work. I think as summer as the soft months during the year, a time to ease up my workload. So when I find the need to day dream, I try to honor it. When you make this a real part of your summer, you can look forward to blitzing your way through your creativity with insight and wonder, and maybe an unanticipated nap!