Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Artist's Way: Week One, Day Two

For most of my life, I was a shadow artist.

What’s a “shadow artist” you ask?

According to Julia, shadow artists are people “caught between the dream of action and the fear of failure” (p. 25). These are people who believe that OTHER people can be artists/ writers/ crafters/ musicians/ etc., because they have real talent.

Shadow artists often hang out with artists, work with/for artists, or follow/support artists. They always feel like they’re just on the edge of great creativity, but can never fully step into it.

This was me.

In fact, in some ways, it’s still me.

To this very day, I carry around all the little insults and hurts and rejections and failures from my past that feel like leeches draining me of present creativity.

Maybe you’ve experienced something similar?

One way to move from being a shadow artist to an artist artist is realizing that you are still that little child who was told to stop day-dreaming, or to focus on a career that can earn you money, or to forget about being a musician because you can’t make a living that way, or just let your writing be a hobby!

Our little artist child needs protection, and safety in order to flourish. We give her that by not criticizing everything we do. It’s so easy to be hard on ourselves, to believe what we’ve been told in the past. But, that’s just one version of reality, not the one we have to believe.

I was reminded to this over the weekend.

On Saturday, I went with Rachel to the Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach. And as we were winding our way through the many booths, I was struck by the varying levels of skill, and would point to one booth and say “Rachel! I can do that! It’s slightly above elementary level!” and then I would look at another booth and say “Way beyond my capability.” But, time and again, there was a booth that displayed art that I could do. In fact, I saw art that was very similar to what I’ve painted!

What I took from that fabulous day was that I am already good enough! People, of my same skill level had booths! They considered themselves artists even though their paintings were simple or child-like or of cats!

And you know what that means? I can consider myself an artist. Right now! All I have to do is change my mind.

And the same goes for you!

Rachel and I left realizing that we already have it. We’re enough! We are artists! We just need to let go of expectations and fear. We need to let ourselves be free, and part of that freedom comes through play.


Yes, play.

Your artist child needs to be allowed to have fun and play with sparkles. Or allowed to dump out all the fabric she’d like and just look at the colors. Or to listen to music as loud as she wants while pretending to play the drums.

We, (the adult us), need to remember to play. And that’s hard to do sometimes between all the practical (and necessary) stuff we need to do as functional adults.

That’s why Julia has you go on Artist’s Dates. It gives you a reason to play!

I hope you’re thinking of something you can do for an artist date. It can be as simple as taking an hour to flip through magazines and cut out pictures/ideas that inspire you.

Remember, a writer is someone who writes. A painter is someone who paints. A musician is some who plays an instrument. A photographer is someone who takes pictures. There is no other label necessary. Not good. Not bad. Not gifted. Not talented.

Stop being a shadow artist and realize that you already have it in you!

Here’s a question I want to leave you with:

1) How can you be more kind to your inner artist this week?


Laura said...

The Shadow Artist concept is really interesting. I never thought of it that way. I've always loved writing. I even thought I was pretty good at it at one point. But then I saw how much better at it people like you and Rachel were and it just made me sit back and admire your works and not continue to create my own. I need to give that some thought this week.

Amanda said...

Laura, you should start writing again!!! Right now!