I AM an ARTIST by John Kavanagh

“Inside you there’s an artist you don’t know about. Say yes quickly, if you know, if you’ve known it from before the beginnning of the universe”

Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi

On accepting the Artist

For years I had become very secure in the shadows of non – involvement in the arts. I had spent my time content, slowly watching and secretly admiring, walking the sidelines, whenever creatives would meet, or creative ideas discussed I’d stay in the background. I realised that I had been really busy not doing!, active in burying my own dreams of creating and sharing what was a hidden source of joy. I had visited galleries and filled my imagination with ideas yet consciously denied myself from letting go and expressing myself through creative work.

I had come to believe my own truths that art as a hobby wasn’t practical and as a result I had stagnated my mind in a dull bland bubble.

Explore don’t ignore

‘but you are an artist!’ she exclaimed!

hearing that sent a sudden jolt of reality through me! This long unspoken truth tsunamied into my head at a deafening speed. Something I had long supressed in me had been noticed, pointed out – named. My secret was out! My enjoyment of creating had escaped from within.

Had I shown my delight while painting? Had I smiled too much during the weaving workshop?

Somehow I had let the world know that I liked creating and that I enjoyed the creative process, I had unintentionally revealed that I was relaxed and at myself while creating. The repercussions would be huge! Since I completed a course preparing me to work with children through art I have never looked back. I realised that my creativity had to be explored not ignored! Without beating around the bush the facilitator let me know, that I needed to accept the challenge before me..namely, accept that I was an artist!

I had never experienced an epiphany before. Having heard this news, I wasn’t sure if such a truth, should be suddenly realised and accepted or if the realisation would be a slower and a more profound life-changing process. In my case the penny gradually dropped.

Changes and realisations

Since then, I’ve made a decision, to slowly start being creative again, to act on the realisation. I want to bring art into my work and into my week by becoming conscious of the things I create everyday. I now allow the joy of expressing myself through art develop into my own creative workshops.

I believe we are all blocked, locked, inert in some way or other. So many of us enjoy life through the eyes of others – watching but never allowing ourselves to take part and do it ourselves, Are we, as adults really afraid of new experiences? As we grow up do we enable our fears to grow with us?

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up” Pablo Picasso

I believe all we need to overcome our fears of becoming open to an enjoyment of practising arts is to gain some confidence in our own creative ability and to trust in oursleves a little more. We learn by doing and by practising.

As a result of this gradual realisation in me my inner curiousities are now alerted and I feel a charge in being creative. My actions and movements are even creating new energy in me. For the first time in a long time the simple acts of sketching, painting or even planning are making me feel inspired. I’ve taken a step out of the shadows and into the coloured daylights where new energies and new ideas are flowing.

“You are always scared of yourself, scared of your own ability” Jón “Jónsi” Þór Birgisson

I started facilitating, planning and delivering worshops with young people, a job I never tire of. To facilitate others in the creative process and to engage with other artists regardless of age, ability or experience is always rewarding.

Sustaining the energy

The challenge ahead now is for me to sustain and focus this new energy. I’ve committed myself to a weekly timetable – between work and home I’ve found some free time to focus. For me the skill is in the self-discipline and in setting tasks and deadlines. It’s the only way for me to achieve anything. If I have two hours to paint then I make that my time, uninterrupted. I have realised that art takes a lot of time, and realistically as much as my other weekly commitments.

In any case you need to apply a system that suits you and your life. In my case investing structured time and focused energy to the process can bring substantial results. Following what you enjoy is a day to day committment as well, making time for your own development is a process that’s all to easily put on the back burner. Making time to be creative and investing time is a daily challenge, needing balance and bordered by both fear and courage.

Being creative is a new positive habit that I am trying to incorporate into my everyday life. It isn’t always easy to manage but I know I’m the better for it. As with any positive practice it keeps me healthy, alert and engagaed in what’s going on around me. It is as a daily routine as a meditation, my senses are no longer dulled by the mundane and the ‘sensible’. Allowing myself to play and to express myself creatively has improved my enjoyment of life.

Good at what?

To hear the truth can come as a shock. I can calmly say now that after a very slow epiphany that ‘yes, I am an artist’ and I’m finally practising my skills, however I’m skilled at what? good at what? I don’t know, yet and perhaps I’ll never find out but I’m enjoying the journey and the changes in my outlook, attitude and new directions in life.

To me at this point being an artist means:

becoming receptive to the world’s colours, sights, sounds, contrasts, experiences

being alert and engaged in the moment, being conscious of the detail

relaxing and zoning out of the mundane and everyday

connecting with others and accepting yourself in the process.

My actions are in the practice, my meditation is in the focus and my living is now in the doing.