Am I an Artist?

I am a lover of art and passionate about encouraging artists. This began over twenty-three years ago in the midst of my deepest grief and has grown over the years. I serve as the Europe Ministries Director of the largest ministry/mission agency that is populated with only artists and people doing imaginative work. I'm the founder/director of local arts' initiative in the greater Charlotte region. But, I am not an artist and there is always a hesitation when I introduce myself or start to tell my story of why I'm doing what I do. My normal introduction is "I am NOT an artist, but. . ." But is this accurate?

Pablo Picasso is often frequently quoted, as saying, "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain one once he grows up." Was there a time in my life when artistic expression was natural to me? Did I paint? Work with clay? Dance? Sing? I have no memory of doing artistic things. I find that horribly sad. What caused me to lose the artistic freedom of expression in my life? Was it criticism from a teacher or a fellow student? Or, was it my own perfectionism that could never be satisfied? I really do not know.

What I do know is that I have a strong desire to be an artist--primarily a visual artist. But I have an even stronger fear to even try. What has produced such an unreasonable reaction to something that Picasso says was a natural part of being a child? There seems to be no logical cause of my fear. Oh, I buy books by the dozens about art. I just don't do art. Why?

Knowledge can never replace practice if one wishes to be an artist.

I have termed myself a "Creative Catalyst" (from Makoto Fujimura's writings). I encourage artists. I lead events and activities for artists. I teach churches how to embrace and engage with artists. I am deeply touched by quality art, of all types. I try to surround myself with good art and good music. But, I am still not an artist.

I will not deny my creative expression in my home, clothing and family. I do not question I have that part of the "Imago Dei" (image of God) called creativity. But, I still cannot declare, "I am an artist". 

This has been a personal and quite vulnerable sharing. I don't know if it speaks to others of their lives as well. Perhaps it isn't art, but other pleasurable activities that are denied because of fear. I know that such fear of not of God. I also know that God does not want such irrational fear to keep us from engaging in all the beautiful expressions that are available to us in this life. But, again, knowing and doing are not synonymous.

I would love to hear from you about the fears that block your freedom to engage in things that are important to you in life. Perhaps you can share how you've found the courage to face those fears and conquer them. I'm sure many of you have had issues far more serious to face than my fear of picking up a paint brush, but we are still together in seeking to overcome that which holds us back. Let's support each other in our journey of courage.