To Be An Artist

Just a quick post for you today. My dad is an artist, a metal artist. And he gave me this framed print. He has one just like it in his workshop, to remind him of why he does his art. And why what he does IS art. I thought you’d like to read the words.

You see, this is even more meaningful when you realize that my dad hasn’t always been an artist. He was a farmer, a mechanic, and well…a dad. He did dad stuff. But he was never an artist. He didn’t even draw. But once the demands of making a living and raising children took a back seat in his life, he began to get interested in restoring antique tools. That morphed into an interest in blacksmithing, metal fabrication, and eventually he began to use these skills to create art. He’s had a long, tortured set of conversations with himself about calling himself an artist. It just seemed so…well…pretentious. So I think this little bit of prose is comforting and reassuring. And it explains so well why we do what we do.

Inspirational poem, To Be an Artist.

When searching online for the source of this piece of text,  I found that this might be attributed to the creativity writer Jan Phillips in this slightly different form:

“To be an artist it is not necessary to make a living from our creations. Nor is it necessary to have work hanging in fine museums or the praise of critics. To be an artist it is necessary to live with our eyes wide open, to breath in the colors of mountain and sky, to know the sound of leaves rustling, the smell of snow, the texture of bark. To be an artist is to notice every beautiful and tragic thing, to cry freely, to collect experience and shape it into forms that others can share.” 
― Jan Phillips

Regardless of the source, the words truly bring home what it means to create. Why we do it. And why the efforts of our hands, our hearts, and souls is art — no matter who else knows it.

Why do we think we need permission from others to be “good”? Why don’t we make what WE like? What makes us feel good? I think maybe too many of us believe the stories that others have told us about who we are. Well there’s no need. You don’t need anyone else’s permission to make your own art. Just like in the words above, you have a lifetime of experiences just waiting to be transformed into your own creations.

My dad’s art really began to grow when he gave himself permission to use his own experience, his own soul, to make his work the way he wanted to. He is finally becoming more comfortable with the term “artist”. He is entering art shows and doesn’t get (as) embarrassed when we talk about how good he is. With each piece he learns more, grows more, and gets even more ideas of things he wants to try. He’s been thinking about adding new materials to his designs. I can’t wait to see what he makes next. You can see more of his work on his website, Ornametal Things. I’m one proud daughter!

The Iron Florist by Jim Davis, an entry in the 6x6 fundraiser for the Ozarks Regional Arts Council
The Iron Florist by Jim Davis. This is my dad’s latest piece. It’s for a 6×6 Fundraiser for the Ozarks Regional Arts Council. All entries must fit into a 6″ x 6″ space.

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