Who would have imagined that my part-time retail store clerk position, might teach me one of life's most interesting and humbling and well, not gonna lie, most flattering lessons I could have imagined.
I got asked today to paint in the foyer of my store, a still life skull and flowers, in one hour!!!!
I went into the challenge much the same as all my coworkers, glad to get to spend a an hour of my day painting, (I mean seriously, who WOULD argue! Lol), but honestly pretty nervous about it.
I'm a VERY solitary painter. My house is mostly quiet, I like the sckritchy sound of my brush against paper. My mind goes...places...I kinda disappear and can spend EASILY 14 hours straight at my easel! And it's private so any cursing that comes out when I inevitably fuck up, is only heard by my cat, and I think she's a bit slow.
Plus, like EVERY single human being I know, pretty self-deprecating and all around judgemental of my life and status next to "all the other people who are better at stuff than me". Maybe it's a better TV, better at a style of art you like, better musician, better doctor, lover, lawyer, PERSON, blah blah blah....
So HOW am *I* gonna paint in front of those Emily Carr Students I admire, or the, important artists in the community that come in, or my COWORKERS, who surely know more than me about everything in the store and art and blah blah blah AGAIN....????????
Cause they asked and you're being paid.
I'll do it.
I took a deep breathe and just dived straight in.
I had conversations, I talked about the paints I was using, the experience of painting, I had those conversations with young and old, and next thing I know it's been an hour and I'm staring at my next "self-deprecating" piece of work.
OF course *I* can see the faults, what I missed, what SHOULD have been emphasized, blah blah blah...
But while I was there. While I was happily plugging away at what I love, those folks who chatted all had one thing they constantly said:
"Sure wish I could do that"
Do WHAT? I kept thinking. Do THIS?, well surely all these other ones are so much better, so much more skilled, better perspective, better...mine is so, so...etc"
I never said it aloud though, cause I was surprised to also learn, that to so many people who walk through the door of my store, I AM an expert. I AM an "Artist" to them.
Does that mean I finally reached my dream as an artist, and am living off the riches of my mass sold empire of art-awesomeness???
Well, no. But IF you remember what being an artist ACTUALLY means... Then. Yes.
Yes I AM an artist.
If I had been one of those kids who walked in, who was just learning how to draw, or the retiree who left their dream behind, to raise families, go to war, any number of things, or the person who is just like YOU who judges EVERY thing in their own lives, YOU who braves the audience and paints their version of what we see and makes it happen on whatever medium we have, we ARE that person they want to grow up to be, the person who had the courage to pursue an artistic life, who had the talent.
And each and every one of us who takes that hour of courage to do it, become "An Artist" from that moment on.
We will always find ways to compare what we have, or what we do, with others. Sometimes we need to stop and look at ourselves through someone else's eyes. If you're as lucky as I was today, you'll LIKE what you see.
I'm so glad OPUS challenged me today, to have me that experience. Completely unexpectedly, it helped me become "An Artist"....I always wanted to be one.
"I'll post a photo of my completed skull and flowers soon, I didn't have a camera today!"
edit: Here's a link to the painting!