Saturday, January 9, 2010

Staunch Character: A Self Portrait In An Art Journal

I made only one resolution this year. I made it in my head at first and didn't speak it out loud for a few days. That resolution is to make or work on art every day. In the days since I finally made the resolution real by speaking it, writing it, enacting it... I also realized that this year I need to explore who/what I am. I need to reconnect with myself in a way I haven't truly done for quite some time. I used to almost exclusively paint and draw self portraits. I recreated my face and form on paper over and over again. I made myself a gargoylesque she-creature, a vengeful goddess protecting her planet, a mystical woman who stares the viewer down, a primordial creatrix, and even a blinded version of Lilith feeling her way through thorny woods. Some day perhaps, when I'm feeling a little braver in my blog I will show you these pictures/ paintings and reveal these faces/aspects of me.
The picture I use as my blog profile photo--called Grandfather--is from that period of my art. I think it's one of the tamer paintings I did at that time.
I have started up an art journal in the last week or so.
I'd kept one or two before, during my self-portrait period...but never kept them up for very long. I think, in my head, it was hard to see them as truly being art because I was already receiving alot of flak about my paintings being "nothing more than coloured pencil on paper" and "why don't you try's more painterly" blah,blah,blah....

I had people (mostly men, but also some women) ask me why I didn't paint "nice" things like flowers or landscapes. I was young--in my 20s--and it was hard to keep hearing this kind of commentary over and over. When I'd been in school, I'd felt like the short end of the stick seemed that my art teacher just couldn't see me as I saw myself (an artist) and he tried his best to make me see that my art wasn't enough for the world. Good enough, bold enough, innovative enough...whatever.

My father was always my loudest cheerleader. He would boldly tell people at his own art shows that he thought I was more talented than he was. I never felt like that was true. I still don't. I like to believe that, in truth, we were equals in art. We both had visions. We both had obstacles. And we always tried to keep working over and around those so we could keep creating our visions.
I also sometimes felt that...well, he was my dad. Of course he thought I was talented. He was supposed to, right?

This year, as I begin a new year, a new decade without either of my parents here on earth... I am drawn to re-exploring who I am and what I am. In the years since I'd last done my self portrait work, so much has happened. My children have grown and are learning to fly the nest. I have grown and am reaching beyond my nest as well. My personal icon list has grown: Frida Kahlo, Georgia OKeefe, Little Edie Beale,Louise Bourguois.......etc.
My personal universe is very different.

Expanding into the internet and the blogosphere and meeting/seeing all these other like-minded artists has helped me to stop hearing only the voices of the naysayers..."You can't be an artist. You're good but I don't see you as an artist." I'm tired of hearing that voice.
I AM AN ARTIST. period.

I have tried to be creative everywhere in my life that I possibly can... No. Wait. That's not right. I haven't actually ever had to try. It just came out of me like that. No matter what I did. That's the way I did it. I can't NOT be creative.
That makes me an artist.
I live breathe eat sleep work dream drink art in some way every day.

So... I am beginning this year...this decade...this art journal with the declaration.
No more second guessing or doubts or questioning if what I do is truly art. IT IS. AND I AM...
My word for the year is : MANIFEST... does that make this my 2010 manifesto? I don't know. I do know I am going to manifest these dreams this year and for the rest of my life. No more waiting for the perfect moment or to receive some sort of permission from some 'expert' somewhere. I am doing this. I can do this.
I hope you will all join me in knowing that you are all artists...wonderful and creative and you bring a multitude of gifts to the world through your creativity.
Art is a neccessity of life.


  1. You go, girl!!! Of course you are an artist!! And don't let anyone tell you differently. It took me 43 years to even start making art and now I know I've been an artist all my life. So are you! I'll be cheering on as I know will all your blog friends!! Hugs, Silke

  2. Boo~Yah Baby! You are an ARTIST. (always have been always will be) Amen. So be it.

  3. Everyone's a critic, eh? Sometimes you just need to tell everyone to fuck off. And then do what you want.