Artist Insights: Do you see yourself as teacher or artist?

Artist Insights is a series where I answer questions from members of the community. Recently I was asked,

“What do you see as your strengths? And do you see yourself as teacher or artist .. which is the prime driver?”

I grew up assuming I would teach AND make art. I never thought I would have to choose. And I never have had to choose. But I’d say my identity always confidently included the word teacher. I KNEW I was good at teaching. I knew I could help my students. But I haven’t always been confident in my skill as an artist.

Even though I studied art in college, I did not attend an art school. And my degree was in both art history and studio art. We were introduced to materials but there was no foundational skill instruction. And I had this internal feeling that we were born with the skill we have…because it felt like no matter how hard I practiced, I would not improve. I couldn’t perfectly capture my niece and nephew in portraits. I couldn’t capture myself in the self-portraits I painted. And the harder I tried, the further I felt from an identity that included the word artist.

This is the installation of my artworks that received honors at Colgate University.

I was the only student in my year to receive honors for her studio art project. I even got a conditional acceptance to Art Institute of Chicago (after a year of foundational training). And while I had moments of pride in my work, I knew I wasn’t nearly as good as many of my peers, as many people “out there.” I knew I hadn’t found my voice yet. And for me, finding that voice was part of my definition of the word artist.

If I had to choose one as a driver… I’d have to say artist is the driver. I’m constantly seeking to grow, learn and achieve because I want to be a better artist. I strive to be successful on my own terms as an artist and I constantly see new challenges or new goals to aim for.

One of my drawings from my Anonymous Woman Series

Teaching has always been the thing I believe in about myself. It’s the foundation, the security blanket I can return to when my art is being difficult.

Strengths

In terms of my strengths, I’m a committed learner. I LOVE learning new things, collecting that information and sharing it with others who might find it helpful. Sometimes I’ve learned the hard way about sharing the information – I pay better attention now to who might REALLY want it (haha sorry sis!).

Another strength I would share is my empathy. I FEEL what others feel in my body. I want to connect with people and help them however I can.

These qualities have led to my current body of work. Being curious, learning about copyright, working to find royalty free images for portraits…all of that stems from my learning.

My empathy and interest in generations of woman who come before us drove this curiosity. And I would have never stumbled upon my Anonymous Women without it.

The current life I lead with an online business teaching and making art is also because of these things. I found a way to make teaching and making art truly integrated, so I never have to choose between the two, and I never have to place loads of pressure on selling my art to thrive.

You can listen to me talking about this relationship in an interview with Gita Joshi of The Curator’s Salon here.

If YOU have a question for the artist (that’s me :)) please join the Collectors Circle using the box below and email me YOUR Q, or post it in the comments below and I may use it for a future topic.

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