Day 8. “Real” Artists

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“Splash” 24×24, oil on canvas[creativ_button url=”×24-oil-on-canvas [creativ_button url=”×24-oil-on-canvas/” icon=”” label=”Buy Now” colour=”red” colour_custom=”” size=”medium” edge=”straight” target=”_self”]

“The fear that you’re only pretending to do art is the (readily predictable) consequence of doubting your own artistic credentials. After all, you know better than anyone else the accidental nature of much that appears in your art, not to mention all those elements you know originated with others” —Art and Fear, Chapter 3

I’m trying to imagine a doctor or a mechanic going to work each day wondering if they are, in fact, actually doctoring or fixing, but I can’t. They know they are because their actions define it. But art? People argue about what it is all the time, and artists, even with hands paint-stained and calloused still wonder if they are really making it at all. Chapter 3 of Art and Fear is called “Fears about Yourself” and tackles this uniquely artistic form of imposter syndrome.

I get it mostly when I browse through instagram and see artists whose work I think looks more “artistic,”, more contemporary, more thought-provoking. That, I sometimes say, is “real” art.

Like pinching yourself to see if you’re dreaming, the only way I have found to quiet those voices, is to paint,– an act that screams, “see, I am making something! There was nothing here before!” In that moment, whether it is good or bad is irrelevant. It is is enough.

But it’s not just the action of painting, and I think this is the part I typically overlook when talking about my work. It’s showing the work of my hands to others. Art doesn’t really feel like art because of our fears about ourselves as artists, but also because it, by its very nature I’m guessing, exists to be seen. When it isn’t, it doesn’t feel much like it exists at all.

My audience isn’t very big. I don’t get a thousand likes per post on instagram (although apparently I could if only I buy into such and such a service), but I do have a diverse group of people who respond to what I create– and that feels important to making what I do seem real. So, thank you. For reading this. For following me on social media. For hitting “like” or leaving a comment. It matters.

I’m picturing parents encouraging their toddlers to sing their abc’s to doting strangers, or a friend asking another to play that one song on the piano. Make it real, they seem to be saying. I remember hiding my sketchbook as my mom petitioned me to show aunt so-and-so my drawings. No way, then she will think I’m an artist, and with work this subpar, that would be devastating if she thought I thought that. The more I show, the more comfortable I am with the work itself– not because it seems like better work but because it seems like real work. 

Today’s painting is the larger, more expressive version of yesterday’s little study of an American goldfinch. I originally envisioned these follow-up pieces as entirely non-representational, but, well, just reference the day 6 post on uncertainty.

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Picture of Denise Hopkins

Denise Hopkins

August 8, 2018

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