When we’re children we all see ourselves as artists.
We see ourselves very clearly as artists until well-intentioned and generally loving and chronologically older people socialize us in other directions.
So, when we were kids we actually knew without much question that yes, we were painters, dancers, music makers, storytellers, sculptors, actors and poets. The world was our canvas, and our imaginations and usually very few outside objects were our palates, tools, musical scores and scripts.
We didn’t differentiate being an artist from being ourselves. (By the way, we were also scientists, architects, doctors, athletes, teachers, explorers and any other number of types of “people” we could conceive of in our minds and hearts.)
Somewhere between the state of wonder and the region of adulthood, our perceptions of ourselves underwent some fairly radical redefinition. Along with those redefinition there were heaping doses of judgment mixed in: “This drawing is good.” “That dance was so-so.” “The song sounds like it needs a little more practice.” “You’ve got ‘real’ talent.” “Hey look, you got an A” and so forth. It became difficult to continue seeing oneself as much of a creative being when there was always a yardstick being held up by others and eventually, by oneself.
The end result is a rather backward evolution from being thriving artists to being: tone-deaf two left-footed stick figure drawing-blocked writers. Picasso nailed it when he observed, “Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
A giant part of how we grow and learn is tied very tightly with the fundamental need to creatively realize ourselves in the world. It’s vital to give kids opportunities to express themselves in a wide variety of ways and chances to deepen existing relationships with different artistic modes. By giving a child the opportunity for a “WOW” experience in the arts, she might be emboldened to see herself as an artist straight through childhood and into adulthood. He’s more likely too, to use that part of his personality to strengthen whatever he has decided to do in the world.
For those of us who’ve already crossed into grown up land and have realized that we may have left a crucial part of ourselves behind, we need to remember that not only is it not too late to reclaim our artist-selves – but it may very well be the key to keeping our hearts intact for the long journey of life. It’s as much about choice and attitude as it is actual activity, and it has nothing to do with other people’s assessments. Remember the first line of this post? It’s how you see yourself.
I can look every one of my close friends in the eye and tell them the ways that I believe they are artists. (Some of them might be a bit shocked!) But who cares what I think, what can you see in yourself?
“Everything we do is art and can be an act of artful living – if we so choose. Writing, drawing, baking, dancing, relationships, work, parenting, even just siting still – especially just sitting still, are all forms of artistry.” m.l.p.