Someone asked me today how long I've been an artist. This always strikes me as an odd question...I mean, is one an artist from the time one first begins creating? From the time one begins publicly showing one's work? From the time one begins sellings one's work? Or from the time one passes certain artistic milestones, such as winning awards or having solo exhibitions?
I've been showing my work since 1989, and doing art full time since 1992. My mom tells me that I first made efforts to show my work publicly when I was five. This consisted of me deciding that I was going to go sell my paintings and become an artist, and setting up some of my paintings out at the end of the driveway. I don't even know what those paintings were, and since we lived out in the country at the time, it's likely that nobody but my parents (and possibly a couple of curious neighbors) even saw them. But clearly, the signs were there even then that this is the road I would find myself on eventually.
Then there's the question as to how long it took an artist to do a particular painting. I once heard an artist respond that it took her whole life, up to that point. I imagine she said this because artists inevitably must first create works that don't live up to their expectations, which are destined to end up at the back of the closet, before they can create works they are happy with. Even then, for me, it's a constant evolutionary process to create. New techniques, methods, or materials must be played with, then eventually they find their place in the artist's work or are left behind in favor of further experimentation. Looking at the work of some of the great artists in history, one can see how their work, subject matter, style, or choice of materials changed and evolved over time.
I cannot help but wonder, though, if there is some resemblance between the paintings that little five year old girl had at the end of the driveway, and the work I create now. Perhaps there is. Today I was working on a sculpture, and remembered how my mom has a clay sculpture of a bear I made for her when I was about four. It remains in her curio cabinet, where it has resided since I gave it to her. So, I guess in some ways, I've been an artist my whole life too.
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