Whenever I don’t have time to blog, I feel a little guilty…but not as guilty as I would feel if I didn’t do my daily art. Over the past few days…I did make time for my art, not posting pics or blogging, but making art…yep, did that.
Admittedly, it was busy. This weekend I made the pilgrimage to my professional conference, the Florida Art Education conference, in St. Petersburg for the second and final year in this location (next year is Daytona!) Now, I know I spend a lot of time in my blog rambling about my love of fashion illustration, sparkly thangs, mixed in with some cheer references and other msc. things that I encounter in my daily journey as an artist and creative soul… Today- today I will write about teaching and making art… being a teacher and artist.
I struggle with this sometimes, balancing my love for teaching with my love for art. The whole reason that I got into teaching art was, well, because I love art- always have. I have been hooked on art for as long as I can remember, from carrying around an empty Shed’s Spread container filled with broken crayons…to being inspired by Mrs. Calcutt in high school…from my time in undergrad and graduate school...even to tonight when I was working on my fashion illustration for the day… I feel that I have been making the time for my art, and for the most part being productive…of course I will be the hardest on myself in this area…but not only do I want to continue to grow as an artist, but while I am teaching…and I do say one that because I hope that one of these days I can really just wake up and just make art all day…but for now…I do teach art, and I want to be as good at it as possible, at teaching I mean.
One thing that I do to improve and grow as an art teacher is to attend my professional conference. I have tried to attend my conferences every year that I have been teaching, in NC and now in Florida. Leaving from my conference today I was convinced more than ever that what I do matters, and that art, my art, is important.
One of the themes that resounded with me leaving from conference, again, was the theme of maintaining myself self as an artist. I whole heartedly believe that if I don’t do this, to continue to grow as an artist I am no good to my students, my friends , family, myself…no good to anyone. Last year I attended a presentation by Professor David Chang from Florida International University…here is the link to last year’s blog post which specifically mentioned him and my conference experience;
So here I am, a year later. Before conference I did take a minute to send Professor Chang an email and to let him know what an impact he has had on my artistically. And he read the email. When I saw him and conference and he said, ‘you’re the one that emailed me’. Yeah, it was me. He remembered me and acknowledged my productivity. My face hurt from smiling.
But interestingly enough, I attended his session this year…and he made it known that I had created all this work…and at some point asked the group, raise you hand if you consider yourself and artist…my hand didn’t shoot up. Folks did turn and look, surely I would raise my hand, but I didn’t.
Here is why, I guess. I do consider myself an artist, and I think I make art…but then I get confused sometimes, should I say I am a teacher first? I may only be connecting with a small audience…but regardless of the work I have created…this is still something I struggle with. When people ask, what do you do?…You know, I struggle with this. Do I tell them I am a teacher, since that is what pays my bills? Or do I say that I am in an artist, something I also commit time to every day…and sometimes make money doing? What am I exactly?
And that may just be something that I struggle with and others don’t, I don’t know. But that is the reason I didn’t raise my hand.
But I am doing it now, raising my hand. I am an artist, and I have made art every day this year, without fail. I have made work for my Creative Every Day series, working within distinct themes, made work for shows, made work just because, made jewelry, and just recently, made fashion illustrations. I have MADE.
And again…this post will ramble on, in and out of making any kind of sense or following any real sequence…it is for me, really.
As I search for some resolution in this matter, affirmation, I don’t know…I just recall what Professor Chang said at conference this year…here are some bits and pieces, I scribbled these words down in my terrible, scribbly handwriting and then tried to go back and decipher like some set of mysterious hieroglyphs…bear with me, might not make sense, very stream of consciousness…
“…when we begin to teach…sometimes we begin to retire, artistically…when you check that box on your conference form, are you a practicing artist, what will you check?...your students WANT you to be a practicing artist…they want someone who PRACTICES what they TEACH…don’t retire from being an artist when you start teaching…It needs room in your life….start with something manageable…do your artwork, begin with once a week…look, there is always something to do...you have to make art part of your routine, like brushing your teeth, you wouldn’t skip brushing your teeth, would you? Every week, find half an hour, to start thinking, about what you might want to do artistically…start from thinking, not doing…ART TAKES THINKING, takes conceptualizing…The most successful artists have been organized, right and left brain; combining the ‘want’ and the ‘ought’ to…what can we do in half an hour? Put away all distractions isolate yourself for half an hour to think about your art…then write it down…Go…in your life, your non-art life, next time, doing something else, set up your space…within a few weeks you will create a small piece…The art spirit is always hungry; we need to feed it to stay alive’…It is important to recognize your achievement, important to pay yourself on the back…now what to do with all the art….what if I get rejected?....Feeling bad is good. Feeling bad makes you feel like you have to do something.”
It might read like gibberish, but to me there are hidden screams and yells within those words telling me to keep working- keep making. I feel bad when I do not create. Literally, I can’t stop thinking about making art, and I feel sick to my stomach if I do not sit down every day and…make…something. Anything.
And I know I am rambling. But what I guess I am trying to say that yes, I am an art teacher. And I love it. My students inspire me- we inspire each other. But I do understand that I must also continue to be an artist first. Everything in my life points this out to me.
So maybe next time…maybe next time I will have the courage to raise my hand when the question is asked, are you an artist, are you producing work?
Yes. I am. And I practice what I teach.
...just a gal trying to get this art out of my soul to share with the world on a DAILY basis...no big deal...check out my ramblings!-JLG