Thursday, January 6, 2011

Being and Becoming an Artist

I am an artist. 

Soar III by Lyric Kinard
Sometimes I feel it takes a certain amount of gall or hubris for me to introduce myself that way. My hidden insecurity comes because I know I have such a very long way to go with my drawing skills. 

I am confident in what I do and the work I produce as an artist. (You can see some of it here.) I love textiles,  dyeing, stitching and printing, photgoraphy and even digital editing. Yet, I have always had a deep desire to be able to draw well - especially the human figure.

Notice I didn't say that I can't draw. (Here comes my soapbox lecture.) Too often when the outcome isn't perfect the first time we try something, we give up and say "I can't." We must give ourselves TIME and PERMISSION to learn. 

We must also DO THE WORK. You know how to read right? It takes a lot of time and effort to learn to read but - it can be done. People, even very young children, do it all the time. The same applies to becoming an artist and learning to draw. It can be done!

I'm determined to learn to draw the human figure. So this year, as part of the sketchbook challenge I'm going to draw a lot of people. I'm going to draw at least one face every day. I'll post them on my blog every Friday and over the course of the year we'll see what happens. If you want a little motivation, my book, "Art + Quilt: design principles and creativity exercises" has a whole chapter trying to convince you that you CAN become an artist.

What do you wish YOU could do?
What are you willing to DO THE WORK for?


  1. great, great post. I've finally decided that I CAN. I WILL do it. I will branch out, try, enjoy, put myself into it... and it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.
    My current challenge to myself is to work in different mediums, pushing past the insecurity and foreign feel of it.

  2. What do I wish I could do? I wish I could just sit down and draw, paint, sew, etc. without wondering what my son is getting into every single minute of the day. But seriously, I want my work to progress past the elementary looking pieces that I generally produce, things that remind me of the craft projects my fourth graders produce. My work lacks depth and insight most of the time.

  3. In prehistoric times I started at secondary school and met our Art teacher, who claimed he could get anyone through GCE 'O' level Art. Then when he saw my work told me that I would never be able to draw and should not even think that there was any chance of me doing an Art exam. I was 11 or 12 at the time. This judgement stayed with me for 40 years. I had designed and sketched clothes I wanted to make for myself and my children and other family members as well as embroidery designs to make. However I still said I COULDN'T DRAW.

    I then started a City & Guilds in Creative Embroidery and was horrified when I discovered just how much drawing was needed. My tutor got me out of that idea and encouraged me to do lots of practice. I found that I enjoyed it and, in the intervening 12 or 13 years I have continued sketching. I am still not good but can get my ideas down on paper.

    I passed on these ideas to my youngest daughter who was not a natural artist. The improvement in her artistic abilities has enabled her to complete her undergraduate degree in Clothing Design & Technology. Her aim is to start her own label eventually.

    NEVER believe that you can't do it.

  4. My youngest (of 5 children) is still at home with me so I can certainly sympathize with the "it's been quiet for too long up there!" feeling. It's frustrating while you're in it but really - they grow so quickly. We have to be careful not to wish away the short time we have with them. Take your sketchbook into the room he's playing with and draw a discarded toy. Do a bunch of 10 second form sketches - if he even stays still that long! Draw your sandwich before you eat it during lunch time. The kids take up almost all of your time when they are little - but that is as it should be. Find joy in it (easier said than done - I know). Perhaps work on composition with a camera in hand - do some weird shots where the perspective is unexpected - make it fun.

    Roz - I still shudder when I hear stories like yours - and I hear them ALL the time. I'm so glad you've overcome a bad teacher!

  5. This post struck a chord with me, as I am in the midst of reckoning within myself that in order to become what I want (NEED) to be, I have to do the work. That really is the oddest part... when I realised that I couldn't blame other people or circumstances for my not having become what I'd wanted to.... thus, this year is the year that I do the work.
    Thank you for that motivational post.

  6. Thank you so much for this excellent post! My greatest challenge in being/saying I'm an artist is my inner critic. However it's also my greatest desire. My primary outlet is fiber dealing with spinning, dyeing, knitting, and weaving. I too would love to draw well but when I start sketching I can feel myself tighten up and that inner critic will start in making it not a very fun process. This is my year too, to get over the fear of putting my "art" out there for all to see and putting pen to paper every day.

    Thank you for the encouragement.

  7. Love your soapbox Lyric! Its just what I need to hear. Drawing is something I have loved but never took the time to do. Any attempts short of perfection became an apology and embarrassment. But not so this year. I've actually created a blog (I NEVER thought I would do that) and now my 2011 goal Sketchbook Challenge is to allow myself to play (draw and POST) with no apologies. At least that is my pursuit! Thanks for your honesty. It gives us permission to be ourselves.

  8. I have been drawing all my life and know that when one draws a lot they get better with each drawing, when they let it slide their drawing skills decline. For me the sketchbook challenge is a WONDERFUL opportunity to work on those skills. And once you get going drawing is really fun! I love posting my current not-so-good drawings because I know how great it will feel to see them improve little by little. Starting at the top leaves you nowhere to go! No one should be fearful about posting their beginning work, because it WILL improve.

  9. I took a great leap forward when I took Carla Sonheim's Silly 2 class. She gave permission for things to look silly - and my efforts certainly fit that description. But she opened a door for me and I have been having a ball ever since.

    Have fun adding to your amazing, already obvious talents. And, we'll have fun watching you grow!

  10. I always wanted to learn to draw, even took books from the library. But I did not like those cubes, circles, etc.
    This year I'm going to try. Do the work. My way.
    Not perfect, just fun.
    Thanks to the Internet

  11. I was visiting with a friend, her church, and the pastor asked "who is an artist?" I stood up. This was the first time I had publiclly acknowledged my 'artist' status. It felt great.

  12. Thanks for this, Lyric! Very nice encouragement,for sure. Faces and figures are a real challenge for me, so I'm tempted to try your face-a-day practice. I like Carla Sonheim's 100 faces idea too, very freeing. I love the Friday Faces! I've put it on my calendar to check every Friday.


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