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What Is An Artist? 3 Easy Ways to Know If You’re an Artist

If you’re like most people, you are thinking, “I am not an artist.” But yet, here you are, reading my blog, curious about whether you might be an artist. Hurray for you!

You’re not alone in thinking that you’re not an artist. Many people struggle with seeing themselves as an artist or as creative at all. For many years, I did not see myself as an artist by any means, and in fact, I am still working (and sometimes struggling!) on my identity as an artist.

How can you know if you’re an artist?

First, let me just say. We are all artists. Yup, you read that right. We are all innately and intuitively artists. As women especially, our creativity and creative expression are part of our soul connection to ourselves, our divinity, our power, our strength. In her book, “Women Who Run With the Wolves – Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype”, Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes:

“Each woman has potential access to Rio Abajo Rio, this river beneath the river. She arrives there through deep meditation, dance, writing, painting, prayermaking, singing, drumming, active imagination, or any activity which requires an intense altered consciousness. A woman arrives in this world-between-worlds through yearning and by seeking something she can see just out of the corner of her eye. She arrives there by deeply creative acts, through intentional solitude, and by practice of any of the arts.”

What Clarissa is inviting us to see is that not only are we artists innately, but that art making and creative acts are a way to tap deeper into ourselves, our knowing, our wisdom and our connection to ourselves.

Why do we struggle with identifying as an artist?

What is considered art or artistic, is something that has been dictated by our society and it is usually connected to its monetary value and/or display history. In that, we can’t be considered artists if we haven’t had any of our art or creative endeavors publicly acknowledged or if it doesn’t hold had monetary value. There’s also this myth that an artist creates life like images. All of these beliefs are simply not true.

Art making and artistic ability can not be narrowed down to such a limited perspective. The 2 year old that smears paint on paper is quite the artist. Her expression is wholesome and from her heart. It’s art to her. Who are we to say that it’s not?

In my own journey in becoming an Art Therapist, I wanted to help OTHERS through art making. Because I didn’t consider myself an “artist”, I couldn’t even imagine making art for my own well-being. I recognized the value of art as a healing process greatly…for other people.

I was lucky though, because I was “forced” to take art classes as a prerequisite to my program. That is when I began to explore the definition of being an artist as well as begin to form my own identity as an artist. Did it really matter that I couldn’t draw life like figures? So what if I couldn’t paint life like paintings like Michaelangelo? Did that mean I had to reduce myself to the status of non-artist?

Slowly, as I began to explore different mediums and push myself outside of my comfort zone, both in my thinking about what it meant to be an artist, and in my art making, I began to recognize that I was indeed an artist. How did I know?

3 Ways to Know You’re An Artist:

1. You can take a pencil, pen, marker, paint brush, charcoals, pastels, or any medium of your choosing and put in on paper.

See? Voila! Being an artist is not about the product at all. It’s about the process. So, the minute you put pen to paper (quite literally!), you become an artist. Adding line, color, and loose form to paper is artistic expression if there is an innate desire to express something from within.

2. You love, notice, and enjoy beauty.

You are someone who notices and appreciates beauty in your surroundings. Whether it be nature scenes, architecture, design, or just every day experiences in your environment, you are a lover of all things beautiful and your eye has a tendency to find it with ease.

3. You have a general appreciation for visual art.

You are also someone who enjoys art and recognizes that it comes in many forms. Whether you listen to your favorite musical artist, go to a museum or art show, or enjoy films or live performances, if you can enjoy some art, you do it!

So, now that you’ve figure out that you ARE an artist, ask yourself this: Who was I when I was 7? Before you had learned these ridiculous, untrue rules about what it meant to be an artist. When you maybe grabbed your crayons or markers and just made your art without any worry or concern about whether it was perfect or gave no mind to what people thought? That’s your true essence, to just be free with your art making and do it because it feels good to you.

How to get started:

1. Buy some simple supplies like:

· a sketchbook or paper pad

· pencils

· markers

· a small watercolor palette and watercolor paper

2. Let yourself move your writing/painting tool around the paper without any intention to create a form. Just let yourself create lines, flowy lines, straight lines, curvy lines, any kind of line you want to create. Trust yourself. Don’t judge There’s no right or wrong.

3. Notice what happens with your body, how it feels just to draw lines without expectation.

4. When you’re done with your masterpiece, give it a title and write your name on it. Take a moment to take it in. Again, no judgment. Just notice the lines and their position on the page.

Giving yourself permission to make art without judgement, to not expect your art to be perfect or to not have any expectations at all, is a way to begin to gently explore your inner artist. Releasing yourself of any antiquated ideas of what it means to be an artist, and embracing that we’re artists in our own right, will help you discover the healing and transformative power of art making.

Myriam Martinez is a Women's Personal Life Coach, Licensed Psychotherapist, and Registered Art Therapist and stick figure artist based out of Northern California. She guides women to embrace their woman-ity and love themselves fiercely through the power of artmaking and creativity. Her calling in this life is to teach women how to find happiness, success, and ease in their lives through the power of self-love, creativity, and compassion. To learn more about Myriam click here:

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