I Finally Feel Free To Call Myself An Artist

I started drawing at age 6 and never stopped. There was a lot of opposition to it from my mother and family. When I asked for drawing lessons at age 7 she screamed at me and said "you can't be an artist. We are poor. You need to learn to do something useful and earn a wage." I was devastated, but kept on drawing. I checked out books on drawing from the library and a friend of mine walked me a mile to the art supply store to buy charcoal pencils and a kneeded eraser. We only had pennies so we bought one pencil each and split the eraser. We copied pictures from books. I showed a picture of a deer I had drawn to my mom and sis and they said " No way, you traced it. You're not an artist." I couldn't seem to convince them it wasn't traced. I asked them to watch me draw so they would know, but they refused. There are no artists in my family in the united states. My grandfather is an architect and very talented, though, and he and my grandmother were delighted to see my drawings. I have an uncle in Rio De Janeiro who is a fashion designer. When he visited I showed him some of my designs and he thought they were good. My mother mocked them. I'm not sure why my mom and sister hate me drawing. Some have said it is jealousy. They are a jealous bunch. My aunt and cousin are the same way. It's too bad. So I built a studio out of a walk in closet in our apartment. I attached a cork board to the frame of an industrial fan to make an easle and put lighting in with an extention cord. I had a glow in the dark picture of the constellations in there as well as other things that inspire me. I spent hours in there drawing and painting and making sculptures. I'm not terribly talented, but just love to create. I have no profound philosophy concerning art or creative writing. All I know is for me it starts with a desire to create. It is something I want, something God put inside me. Within 6 months my mother discovered my studio and ripped it to shredds. I was very depressed about that for a long time, but kept drawing. In high school my senior year I snuck and took an art class. It was pure heaven. The teacher was a very calm woman who believed anyone can learn to draw. She taught us how to see out of the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. My final project, a large drawing of a complicated still life, was hung in the school cafeteria. At the end of the year I took it home. My mom was impressed. She framed it and put it on the wall, to my great surprise. I thought I finally had her support. But when I was away at college something made her angry and she ripped the drawing to pieces along with some of my other art work. I had a bad experience in an art class my freshman year and began to doubt myself as an artist. I was permitted to sign up for beginning painting without being told I should take 2d design first and color theory. Everyone's work in that class was wonderful.Mine wasn't so good and the teacher held up my work as a bad example. The whole class laughed at me. I still painted on my own and improved a bit. When I told my mom accidentally one day that I'm an artist, she yelled again. " Why do you need to label everything?" then she said in a mocking tone " I'm an aritist." She made me feel guilty for calling myself an artist, as if it is this horroble thing. She accused me of having exhorbitant pride and told me God would take away my talent because I was proud. Pride cometh before a fall, she kept saying. Later I had my own place and spent hours making silk screen prints using a technique I learned in High School. I framed one of my prints and when my mother saw it she said " That's beautiful, where did you get it?" I told her I made it and she said in disdain" Oh." Many years later I accidently referred to myself as an artist again and she flipped her lid. I have not had contact with her for two years now and have dealt with some PTSD issues. I am emerging a happier person and my creativity is returning. Today is my 45th birthday and I prayed for some kind of new beginning. I woke up and had the thought that I might find free art lessons on line. I found some and they are really wonderful. I have a few supplies and space to create and the support of my fiance, who is himself an artist. Still, there was a lingering doubt. A guilt for calling myself an artist, a sense that I don't really have permission to do this. I prayed and then Patrick woke up and said he wanted to order me two books from Amazon .com for my birthday. He ordered Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and Drawing from the ARtist within. That was confirmation from God that is is indeed okay, even wonderful to be an artist, to call myself one, and to enjoy the process. I have God's permission and the old voices are not there anymore. I am so excited to be drawing again! The process slows me down and helps me appreciate the world around me and inside me more. It relaxes me. Patrick set up an easle in a spare room and I hope to get up there and create today. It is turning out to be a great birthday. There is nothing pretentious about calling oneself an artist. To me an artist is any person with the desire to create and the willingness to make an effort. It isn't something you become only when you start making money at it. I don't care if I never make money at this. The joy is in the work, the process, not the paycheck. Thanks for reading.:)
TolstoiFan TolstoiFan
41-45, F
9 Responses Oct 23, 2011

Quite the auto-biography ( or biography, I never remember which) many Artist's have written about their life struggles, over Art, yet continued to work and evolve in spite of them.
" I saw the Angel in the block of marble and chipped everything else away to set it free." 1495 - Michelangelo, he was 25 at the time. Search Michelangelo Art . (still very inspiring for me)

For anyone who may be still reading this

for your help Yellow Ochre, 30ml Bottle for Fountain, Dip, Technical Pen, and Airbrush Blue capped bottles are fully intermixable and intended for use with dip pen, fountain pen, technical pen, and airbrush.

Not all mothers are kind. My mother is quite similar to yours in the sense that no matter how hard I try to gain her approval, it is not granted. I have also learned that it is best to have no contact with her or anyone else like her, friend or family. Thank you for taking the time to write your story. Please always create. God may have given you a tough family life, but He blessed you with the most amazing gift - CREATE. That's all that matters. The world needs your light.

Heart breaking and heart warming story. Your mother took a very negative approach to your interests but I hope your significant stays supportive and interested in your artistic expressions. I am an artist also. My parents were super unsupportive. Very similar but your mom sounds more temperamental and explosive.

you keep on going no matter what. I know what it feels like to be disaproved. I had a friend who also liked art. I was always better than her and it made her mad. Whenever I tried to show her, she would look away and say yep, or she would look and give me a fake praise. Not near as bad as it would be if my mom was like that. This story makes me feel for you.

I don't know why it's always the ones who we seek approval from the most who always discourage us from who we are. For some its jealousy, for some its their ego. An artist is WHO you are, not what you are. Your creativity shows in everything you do. Look at the creativity it took to create yourself a studio, to find ways to keep striving for what you wanted. Needed really. You're in a good place with a supportive and encouraging partner. You're becoming whole again. Keep on your chosen path and you'll reach your goal.

thank you. that means a lot to me. Peace and blessings.:):)

Great story, and so very sad. I am so saddened by the fact that your mom did not support your interests to be an artist. You are an artist! It does not matter, like you said, if you aren't making money from your art. You have a dream, go for it. My nephew had a dream to be an actor right from a little fellow. Some people then told him he'd never make it, but he persisted. Now he has been on tv shows, and he will be in a movie near Christmas. He has not made it fully yet, but he persists. His sister is having her 1st photography showing just before Christmas. Each pursued dreams when family told them they were crazy to have these dreams. They overcame. You have overcome! You are strong. I would love to see some of your pictures if it were possible. I am glad your fiance is so supportive of your dreams. Hang on to this person!!!! One day, when you have made your fortune from your art, your mom will regret every moment of her lack of support! I couldn't think of a more wonderful birthday gift to yourself than to realize that you are an artist, and you are a successful artist! Happy 45th Birthday!!!

Thank you for the affirmation and birthday wishes!!!People like you make me feel like life is worth living! God bless you in every way!:)

Isn't it sad people can't let you be yourself.They have to control.I have struggled with regaining my spark which was taken away by mood stabilizers and anti psychotics.I'm getting there,but I think my spark just blossomed in other places.<br />
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I know you will blossom and be a happy,creative woman as a 45 year old.

Thank you! I will pray that your creativity will flourish as much as I pray for my own. God bless you and give you your heart's desire!!!:)

for some people, the creative life doesn't come easily. so many roadblocks. I am still blocked by lack of money to get any of my work into a state where I might sell it. it's not the money, it's just the idea of putting my work into the world. I'm sorry your talent wasn't encouraged and valued by your family. today is your 45th birthday. you are an ARTIST. don't forget it. don't let anyone say it's not so.

thank you! I will listen to you and not let anyone ever say I'm not an artist again. And I pray God will provide for you to show your work to the world. A lamp is not made to hide under a box. It should be out there blessing others. God will make a way!!!:)

still making your art?