On Being An Artist

Welcome to another week of The Never True Tales Won’t You Be Neighbor? series where participants showcase wonderful bloggers they’ve met along the way.

Won’t you join me in welcoming Amber from Strocel.com? I’ve been reading Amber’s blog for longer than I’ve been blogging here, at Coffees & Commutes. I “met” her while I was still Thoughts from a Lite Mocha Mom. Her blog is funny, informative and simulating—that’s a power combination if you ask me. Her commitment to writing, and growing her online brand is truly an inspiration. For goodness sake, her podcasts are on iTunes! I look up to her as a blogger, and a mother.


On Being an Artist
by Amber at Strocel.com

My 6-year-old daughter, Hannah, is an artist. She draws and paints and colours much of her day away. And I may be biased, as her mother, but I happen to think that she’s pretty good. Far better than me, in fact, in spite of the nearly three decades of living I have on her.

I am not an artist. I went to engineering school, graduated, and worked as a programmer for 10 years. It’s a very solid, practical sort of a career, but it’s definitely not what you would call artistic. There is some room for creative problem-solving, I suppose, but you could say that of most any job. For the most part, engineering and art feel like polar opposites. And somewhere between the time when I was 6 years old myself, and the time that I entered engineering school, I stopped playing with crayons and became as solid and practical as my chosen field.

Things changed for me somewhat abruptly a couple of years ago. I was finishing off my second maternity leave when I got a call from my team leader.. Let’s just say that when you’re on maternity leave and your team leader calls you on speaker phone, announcing that there’s an HR rep in his office who’s also on the call, you pretty much know what’s coming next. They were dramatically downsizing, and I wouldn’t have a job to return to. My engineering job wasn’t as solid as I’d believed it to be.

Hannah draws her "favourite singer"

Here is where my life took a turn. The obvious choice was to finish off my maternity leave and look for another engineering job. But the truth is, I didn’t want to do that. I was ready for a change. Unfortunately, I didn’t know what that change would be. So I embarked on a journey to figure out what I really wanted to be when I grew up. I’d ruled out engineering, but that still left a whole lot of possibilities.

I wish I could say that I’d had some kind of great epiphany, but I haven’t. I have done a whole lot of exploring, though, and I’ve learned a whole lot about myself. I’ve re-discovered my love of writing, for example. I’ve created an online course for mothers. I’ve done freelance work and written guest posts and created podcasts and stepped way, way outside my comfort zone.

Hannah's "art museum"

One of the things that has occurred to me is that maybe, in spite of my doubts, I am an artist. Maybe we’re all artists. Art, after all, is not about being able to create a flawless object. It’s about expressing ourselves – our thoughts, our ideas and our emotions – creatively. For some people, like my daughter, their expression falls within the realm of what is commonly considered art. But for the rest of us, it may be a little less obvious. Maybe we write, or bake, or even create computer software. Maybe we pour our whole selves into parenting our children, or creating a welcoming home. I suspect that there are as many ways to express art as there are people in the world.

I don’t know where my journey will take me. Although I don’t think anyone ever really does know. That’s the way life is – it’s full of twists, turns and curve balls. But what I do know for sure is that even in the midst of the uncertainty, I have the power and the ability to harness my creativity and make my art. Whatever my art looks like today.

Now, I’d like to hear from you. What does your art look like? And how has your definition of art changed over time? I’d love it if you shared your thoughts!

Thank you Amber! I’m so glad my own journey led me to you.

Don’t forget to head over to The Never True Tales and read all the other posts featured this week.

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14 thoughts on “On Being An Artist

  1. What a great post. I have read your blog and do think you are an artist–at least the writing kind. I used to think an artist was only someone who used paint, until college, when my first English class taught me it was a way of looking at the world, of crafting the world. I think being an artist is a true gift.

  2. Cecilia says:

    What a beautifully written post. You know, when you wrote in the beginning that you had not considered yourself an artist because you went into engineering, I was actually thinking, no, no – you are definitely an artist! I also have a 6 year old and he is as passionate about Lego building and math (he wants to become an engineer) as he is about drawing and painting. I see strong parallels between the two as they both involve creativity and expression. I am sorry to hear that your company downsized but I often like to think that there is a purpose in things taking certain turns. This is the door that will take you to something wonderful!

    As for me, I studied studio art when I was younger but sadly I don’t have a passion for it…instead I have channeled my artistic energies into writing.

  3. First off–your kid has talent!! I absolutely adore that first picture, especially paired with the story of getting laid off.

    What you’re doing is incredibly brave. It takes courage to really dig down within ourselves and figure out who we are/who we want to be.

    My artistic energies are mostly writing and cooking-focused. I’m trying to get better at photography, though.

    Great to meet you!

  4. Thanks Christine for hosting Amber. Nice to meet you Amber! I can relate to your piece. I gave up my corporate legal career to spend time with my first love, writing. It is a journey of uncertainty, but I am immersing myself with writing and reading. I admire your decision to forge a new and creative life for yourself. Thanks for sharing your words.

  5. I just love that you took that leap, looked at that suddenly closed door and saw it as an opportunity. I’m not so sure I’d be quite as positive about it!

    • Amber says:

      In fairness, there was a lot of crying and wallowing before I got to the point of seeing the opportunity. I wasn’t exactly overjoyed to be laid off. Even if it worked out in the end, it’s a very powerless feeling.

  6. Kelly says:

    I’ve definitely given myself permission to be an artist in the past few years. Before, artist seemed abstract and high-minded. Now an artist is a person who creates, fully and passionately. I do that. Daily.

    Great post!

  7. If I had all the time in the world, I think I’d be a chef. Maybe a baker. But, given the time constraints, I think writing in my little blog is enough for now. Nice to meet you!

  8. Writing is most definitely art.

  9. Amber says:

    Thanks so much Christine, for hosting me! And thank you to everyone for all of your kind comments. I’m reading every one, and soaking it up.

    To art!

  10. Mama Zen says:

    I think that living in a way that satisfies you is an art in and of itself!

  11. Leslie says:

    Art was my answer to every “what do you want to be?” question for the first 16 or 17 years of my life. Then it meant visual art – painting, ceramics, photography. When college came around, my first major was in another art – piano performance. I’d all but decided that my art and my living wouldn’t come from the same place when I turned to English, journalism and communications (the latter by way of psych and political science), and soon I was seeing that art is everywhere. I’ve ended up working in education, where my work with teens struggling with literacy and college readiness feels like somewhat of an art (if not a science). And it’s home where perhaps I still get the greatest sense of joy and creativity – from relaxing with the piano, some paper or the camera, or my ever-evolving art of parenting.
    Love this post, and seeing life as art. In a way, reading and reflecting on it was a reminder of simple gifts. Thanks, Amber!

  12. Is art about imagining a different life? A different way of looking at life? A different lens? Is art about taking the broken and making something whole, or more whole, or at least other? Is art that thing that comes at the end of a long day when I’m sitting on the couch, my feet in his, his feet in mine and we’re talking about nothing and it feels so very something? Because all those moments feel like finger paint to me, squishing about and blending and bluring and becoming as I move through the world, touching the life that is mine.

    Thanks for these questions and thoughts.

  13. […] Coffees and Commutes: On Being an Artist […]

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