View Full Version : When did you know you were an Artist?

05-31-2011, 08:08 PM
Maybe a strange question, but I would love to hear your responses...

The other day I was talking to a fairly talented (amateur) artist, and I asked that question. To my surprise, she said she never thought of herself as an artist while growing up, and just decided to "try it" after retirement.

I am over 50, and just recently started painting (well, nothing much since high school), but I've always felt like an artist...I've always loved looking at paintings/artwork even when I wasn't creating, and colors/images/scenes were always catching my eye. When I was 7 years old, we had to fill out a survey in school about what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I wrote Artist. I felt like I saw the world a little differently even back then.....

I'm guessing that a lot of you felt the same way..??? :)

Imogene Thomas
05-31-2011, 08:23 PM

I have always loved to do sketching or doodling, but didn't have time while raising my family. I, too, didn't really get serious until after my children were grown and moved out. I started with pencil, charcoal, moved to colored pencil, pastel and finally settled on acrylic. I guess that was the key and later in life .... I dediced that I was an artist.

Lady Carol
05-31-2011, 08:27 PM
that way of thinking just evolved and I do now call myself an artist. I still can't believe people want to pay me money for my art :eek:

05-31-2011, 08:50 PM
I'm inclined to agree with what has been said here already but I did like to draw in my younger years. It wasn't until after the kids were grown up and I went back to work part time that I started painting again at the urging of a close friend. So I would consider myself an artist after all these years of taking classes, participating in exhibits and selling some of my artwork. Lil

05-31-2011, 09:52 PM
Hi Deb, you pose an interesting question

The painting shown below by Salvador Dali, Christ of Saint John of the Cross, kick started my interest in painting. I was 7 years old when I first saw it in my home town of Glasgow, Scotland's Art Gallery and Museum, and was in awe struck! You have to imagine me as a small boy staring up at this 10 ft high painting! I am in not in any way a follower of religion, but I have never forgotten the power of the image, ever since then, I was an artist!


06-01-2011, 04:41 AM
It is an interesting question and one to which the answers could run and run. With regard to painting, if you accept that art is defined as the application of creative ability to realise images that have beauty and emotional content then you can begin to winkle out the true artists. A hanging committee recently defined its objective by assessing paintings that showed originality, technique and emotional content. Any painting that failed to provide all three were not considered worthy of hanging in an exhibition.

I produced my first oil painting at the age of eleven and have continued to paint in various media for the following 67 years, graduating to acrylics in 2006. And yet I hesitate to call myself an artist because while I am thankful to have some technical ability in the application of paint I find that I am lacking in the imagination department. Henry's Dali example shows imagination, originality, superb technique and emotional impact. The hanging committee cited above would have no hesitation in selecting it for their exhibition.

06-01-2011, 04:56 AM
I still struggle accepting the title of "Artist", as my sister truly is a gifted and successful "Artist".

For me its not natural ability, but a craft in the old sense of the word - I have to work hard to get the same results as most, but its something I just feel compelled to do, for me painting is a pleasure not a chore and a journey of discovery.
I guess I knew I was making progress was the first time I was tapped on the shoulder while painting in London plein-aire, and was asked if I sold my work.. and there have been other times since, which help with the reinforcement that I may truly be an "Artist" even though (Art Exchanges excepted) I am priveleged to have sold work and have works in private collections worldwide, I try to keep humble as I know I have a long way to go yet.. if people like my work great, if they dont.. well maybe next year..

06-01-2011, 10:02 AM
JTMathis, Carol, Lil, Henry, Doug, Dominic - Thanks for your responses, interesting to hear everyone's viewpoint!

JT, It sounds like you didn't have to time to spend on your art until fairly recently, but if you loved to doodle and sketch when you were younger...well you were already an artist at heart, right?

Carol, what,what??? of course people would pay money for your art!!! :)

Lil, so you were drawn to drawing (:)) at an early age also? maybe you didn't feel you were an accomplished artist until recently, but it sounds like the creativity and desire has been there since you were young.

Henry, that is an intriquing story, and I can see why the painting would have such a great impact on you! And yet, I'm sure that most 7 year old boys looked at the painting, were impressed for a minute, and then promptly forgot all about it. So it seems there was already something inside of you waiting, receptive to the opportunity...

Doug, I know what you are saying about the technical vs originality aspects of the art. I know of a few people who have amazing technical skills, but only basically copy what they see. I still think they are artists if they feel the drive to "create" a drawing or painting. And I would love to see the thought process that goes behind the judgement of originality, technique and emotional content, especially the emotional content. That would be fairly subjective, very interesting to think about! thanks for your comments!

Dominic, if you feel compelled to paint, find pleasure in doing so, and are selling your paintings, I would think you are an artist!

06-01-2011, 01:02 PM
An interesting thread on a subject that has been discussed on many other sites. I know of a few people who have amazing technical skills, but only basically copy what they see. In an earlier thread I asked whether one who copies a photograph can be considered an artist. Several artists responded with a deafening NO. Because I essentially paint all my pictures from photos, including those from WC RILs and weekly and monthly challenges, I am just an old guy who just enjoys the hobby of painting. and are selling your paintings, I don't think this is a strong criterion. After all, van Gogh, who I believe is considered an artist, rarely sold anything. BTW, I am represented in a gallery and sell, but I consider myself just an old hobbyist, not an artist.

06-01-2011, 03:33 PM
When it happens, I'll let you know!

06-01-2011, 03:45 PM
Old Hobbyist: I think that the deafening NO should perhaps be tempered a little. It all depends on how you use photographs in the execution of a painting. Clive Head is a British artist who uses photographs extensively in his work but who adjusts the images in an imaginative way so as to create a form of alternative reality. Only recently he exhibited at the National Gallery in London. That must be just about the pinnacle of achievement for any artist. I posted this link recently where Clive Head talks with the curator of the National Gallery about his work. It is quite informative.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf3bXNE11k8 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf3bXNE11k8)

06-01-2011, 05:15 PM
Doug Shaw, the issue deals with "basically copy what you see." not reintrerpret or otherwise alter. Here was a quip from one of my car efforts.
the painting does look like a photo.
Let me paraphrase Painter Deb by saying "those who can, paint with emotion and originality, those who can't, copy."

BTW, the orginal thread dealt with when we decided we were "artists." I worked my way through engineering school on a drafting table [mechanical drawing, pre-computer days], making extremely detailed break-away perspective drawings of things like industrial heat exchangers, from B&W photographs. My clients rely on me to provide these skills in my engineering consultancy. Emotion, creativity, and originality are talents that have very little place in engineering. Ergo. I am a copyist, not an artist or even much of a painter.

06-01-2011, 10:31 PM
here in the USA, Uncle Sam dictates you as an artist if you file your taxes correctly.....I believe the code number for an artist is 1507......other than that, you're a 'Sunday Painter'....:)

originality or copying has nothing to do with it....it's a business......and Uncle Sam may not have acknoleged Van Gogh as an artist if he didn't sell anything.....:rolleyes:

06-01-2011, 10:41 PM
old hobbyist, Howard, Doug, and bluefish - thanks for your comments!!

Doug, I did watch the video you linked to, and it was really interesting to see that artist's approach...how the photographs he used were each just pieces of the puzzle, and about creating an alternative reality on the other side of the canvas...I prob need to watch it several more times for it to really sink in.

Perhaps I have a naive definition of being an artist, (and I didn't mean to start a debate)...I prob asked the question wrong....I wasn't talking about being a famous artist, but rather about if you feel you look at the world differently, and when you first felt that...?

I mean, if I am having lunch with friends and I look out the window and suddenly see the light hitting the flowers outside the window just right, I want to jump up and take a few photos! my friends who are artists totally understand, everyone else thinks I am crazy!

bluefish, no offense, but I don't trust uncle sam on much of anything, and def not on the definition of an artist! altho I think your post was a bit TIC, which is fine :)

06-01-2011, 10:54 PM
I was 11 years old. I enjoyed art before that, but that was when my brother-in-law helped me with a watercolor plein air. I was hooked.

06-01-2011, 11:02 PM
Linda, that's so neat you started young, and have that particular memory of a starting point!! do you still have that watercolor by any chance? or remember what you painted?

06-01-2011, 11:33 PM
I have always wanted to be an artist, but unfortunately, my hands refused to draw what my mind wanted them to do. Drawing basic shapes - cat, flower, vase, eggs - all were impossible for me to draw. I'm still trying to do this however and I'm nearing mid-sixties. I'm hoping that one day I'll pick up the pencil and find that the shape will just form at the end of the lead.

Can anyone else relate?

06-02-2011, 01:05 PM
Deb: Don't apologise for starting a debate - deliberately or otherwise. It's good to exchange ideas!

Bluefish: What does Uncle Sam say if, as an artist, you file your taxes creatively?

Old Hobbyist: Like you I have spent a lifetime in engineering/physics and even after many good years of retirement I have found it quite difficult to break the shackles of precision with regard to my painting. So I guess I should follow your example and consider myself more as a copyist than an artist. However, having studied the work of Clive Head and Nathan Walsh I can see that there is a way to combine realism with originality and that I find to be hugely exciting and worth practical investigation.
BTW I think originality can be very much a component of engineering practice. If not, what price the industrial revolution?

06-02-2011, 01:15 PM

It was 'go to art school' and become a struggling artist or 'go to engineering school' and become a struggling artist 40 years later.....:lol:

Uncle Sam frowns big time on creative artistic manipulation of his strict tax code!...........:)

06-02-2011, 01:53 PM
Inside, I've always felt like an artist. I married young and had children and it wasn't until the last couple of years that I've been able to do any drawing, painting, etc. I don't feel like I've got much, if any, natural talent. It's just something I feel compelled to do. It's like I want to paint something that will make me look at it and say ahhhhh

06-02-2011, 02:10 PM
since I could remember

06-02-2011, 02:38 PM
If the truth be known I was in Kindergarten in St. Patrick's Grammar School and won a prize for a drawing..haha it was a baby carriage in crayon..haha
actually I still have it and I look at it and can't believe I actually did that well with it. From that moment on I was always by others called the artist of the class so I decided that was a pretty good thing to be when I grew up, I'm still growing up and still trying to live up to the title. :lol:


06-02-2011, 03:57 PM
Drawing & painting have been part of my life forever. My first art memory was dreadful. Given finger paints & specific instructions about what to draw, I became taken with how my fingers made wonderful designs on the paper. I forgot the instructions & when it was my turn to show my work, it was torn up by the teacher in front of the class, as an example of not following instruction. The designs I produced were beautiful in my mind! That experience is the hallmark of my life & I have “not followed instruction” ever since. Feeling the paint on my fingers and loving what I could make them do, captured my imagination and though it took years before I had the time to spend I always dabbled whenever I could. I'm not sure I consider myself an artist but I certainly enjoy what I do!

06-02-2011, 06:01 PM

Oh how dreadful to have had your work torn up in front of the whole class! Shame on that teacher!! She should have been reported for abuse. My feelings for that teacher could fill pages and pages. Ugh. I guess I should stop now before I type out my rage on this page.

A teacher's job is to guide and teach, not humiliate her students.

I'm so glad that you did not stop being creative as a result of her unforgiving behavior. A much better way to have handled the situation would have been for her to have the whole class do another finger painting and have her guide you through the steps she wanted you to take in a NICE way without her drawing attention to you. She could have 'helped' the whole class.

Hugs to you.

06-02-2011, 06:07 PM
ahh, the mythology of Van Gogh lives on - in truth, if one exchanges a painting for paints and canvas, one has 'sold' the painting [value exchanged for value] in much the same way as doctors in the rural exchanged services for eggs and chickens and so forth - so van Gogh sold several of his works, even if not get cash in return.......

06-02-2011, 06:31 PM
TimeShadowed, Doug, bluefish, Sandy, Bent, Elaine, Gayle, and Robert: thanks for your comments, really interesting to hear the different stories and opinions!!

Interesting how some of you started early, and still have vivid memories. I remember the time (pretty sure I was in kindergarten) I painted a blue sky, then added a yellow sun, and then I was astonished to watch the sun turn greenish! :D

06-02-2011, 08:53 PM
if that's the case Robert, then Uncle Sam would call Van Gogh an artist! :lol:

06-02-2011, 09:51 PM
Interesting stories!

One of my earliest art memories was sitting on the kitchen floor as a pre-schooler, drawing on a piece of paper. I think I was intending to draw a sailing ship but when I had finished & turned the paper upside down, I was delighted to discover that I had created a wondrous elephant! I still can't figure that one out :confused: but the memory of discovery is crystal clear!
As a kid I loved books with highly detailed pencil drawings - I'm sure I went through every book in the library to find them and I borrowed them time after time. I aspired to make art just like that. Later, I was told that book drawing wasn't really art, but "illustration", so as I developed my talent I thought of myself as an illustrator rather than an artist. It has only been in recent years when I keep hearing second-rate (imo) musicians calling themselves "artists" that I decided I was worthy of the title too!

06-02-2011, 10:18 PM
I have always been an artist but have never thought of myself as one. From the time I was five years old building kites out of newspaper, string, and sticks to building fiberglass flying airplanes today. Funny how things work out. And now later in my life fine art painting. The word artist always had a negative ring to me for unknown reasons. Maybe some stereo type I heard when I was very young. My friends always saw me as an artist as they have told me so, but never in my mind until recently.

06-03-2011, 09:14 AM
I have been creative one way or another since I was old enough to do it. I guess it is something I was born with. I dont think of myself as an artist per-say . Maybe a painter.:)

06-03-2011, 04:53 PM
It was something I always did since I was a kid. As a kid I would say, I wanna be an artist someday! I put it all down for a long time till college. I took an art class for fun, and realized that I didn't miss a beat. I picked up right where I left off. Not to brag, but I was surrounded by art majors ( I took the class for fun) and I was completely on the same page as them. Thats when I knew

06-03-2011, 06:55 PM
Coralie, Eric, Elinor and reverseengineering, Thanks for sharing your stories!!

Coralie: that's such a cute story about discovering the elephant, and the delight you felt in creating it. I think you still have that fun approach to your paintings, and it shows! :)

Gayle: it doesn't sound like your teacher was the creative type :(, glad you were spunky enough to overcome that experience, and are still "coloring outside the lines"!! :)

06-03-2011, 07:01 PM
I'll let you know if it ever happens!

06-03-2011, 07:12 PM
Trevor: sorry but Howard already used that line! :D

06-04-2011, 11:23 AM
Hi Deb, alot of great stories and explanations!!
I rememeber in school I used to doodle and draw alot never thinking much of it.. I had a favorite droopy daisy I drew alot and once I used it as a project in geography to make up a continent and mine was the shape of the droopy daisy. I did take one elective in high school of Art and loved it.

I did alot of doodling and drawing here and there for fun and painted alot details with ceramic/plaster figures and Sweat/tshirt painting over the years but never picked up the brush to paint on canvas untill 3 yrs ago. The title Artist was something I never thought of untill when posting my paintings here folks kepts saying I was a talented artists, which blew me away!!
So I guess it was then! just 3 yrs ago

06-04-2011, 12:22 PM
If the truth be known, I'm still growing up....:evil:


06-04-2011, 12:23 PM
I'm just a painter of stupid stuff....stupid bird, stupid rooster....etc

Not an artist by any means....a paint dabber.

06-04-2011, 12:37 PM
I consider myself to be a painter rather then an artist.:)

Charlie's Mum
06-04-2011, 01:23 PM
I consider myself to be a painter rather then an artist.:)

I can identify with this!
Also with Howard's (and Trevor's) line!

And Deb, people often think I'm strange for some of the photos I take!!!!!:lol:

I've always felt it a little presumptuous to say 'I am an artist', even though teaching it has been my career and I've drawn and painted since I could first pick up a pencil and brush - and that's many long years ago!

Other people say that I am an artist - and have said so from schooldays - I'm very honoured!:)

Incidentally, I never ever used photographs until joining WC - but the source reference doesn't really matter, it's what you do with it that counts. IMO!

06-04-2011, 02:10 PM
Really for me, the only time I know I'm an artist is when I'm in the middle of working on a piece, focused and in the zone. The rest of the time, I'm just some dude that has a ton of paintings in his apartment.

06-04-2011, 04:13 PM
Hi Kathie :wave: Thanks for commenting! Oh yes, the doodling! (I wonder how many hours I spent in classrooms, doodling in the margins of my notebooks while enduring a neverending lecture, ha!) It sounds like you have always been artistic.

Haha Raymo, well maybe you are ready to move to the next level! I looked at your page, didn't see any "stupid birds" or "stupid roosters", ha! I did really like the little house (with green roof) in the yard with the chickens.

Connie, you don't consider yourself an artist?? wow, I think you are very creative, and an amazing artist!!

Maureen, I don't think it is presumptuous at all to call yourself an artist!!

cpt.torpor, you sound like an artist to me! and maybe you should sell a few of those paintings, and then you could be a rich dude in an apartment. :)

I guess I've felt like an artist (wannabe) for a long time, because I usually feel creative. I like to dabble in poetry, photography, and now painting, and I used to create things out of felt (buy wool sweaters in thrift store, shrink them down, dye them with kool-aid, etc) and create my own designs. If someday I can become a local artist and actually sell a couple of paintings, I will be deliriously happy!

chammi kaiser
06-05-2011, 05:23 AM
I suppose I am an absolute perfectionist and never ever find my work 'good enough' . I am always impressed by the work of certain artists (particularly those that paint and draw animals or whose paintings glow with light) and am flabbergasted when people actually like my work or buy it. No, I don't think I will ever call myself 'an artist' but I do enjoy painting and drawing very much. Complicated, I know, but that's the way I feel.

06-05-2011, 10:35 AM
Hi Chammi, Thanks for commenting and adding your perspective! :)

It has been so interesting to read all of the various responses, I've learned a lot.

06-05-2011, 05:08 PM
I have never thought about a title and I don't think about being an artist. I just like to create things with my hands... I always have. I learned from my grandmothers and mother all the hand crafts like knitting, crocheting, tatting, quilting, etc. From my grandfathers and father I learned more outdoor kind of crafts. In between I doodled, colored everything in sight and just 'created' things... anything to keep my hands busy. No, I don't have ADD, I can sit very still when fishing or hunting, or if I just want to. :D I just have the urge to keep busy at something. I started painting just before I retired because I saw a picture I liked and I had always wanted to paint but never tried it. The picture came out better than I thougt so I kept on going and here I am today trying to soak up all of information on WC. I still don't call myself an artist... just creative.

06-06-2011, 07:19 AM
Guess it depends on our own idea of what an artist is. Me,I'm a painter.Folks who buy my work say I am an artist but no museums want the stuff so I still have lots cluttering up the studio:)

06-06-2011, 01:15 PM
Linda, that's so neat you started young, and have that particular memory of a starting point!! do you still have that watercolor by any chance? or remember what you painted?

I remember what I painted, it's a place I love, but I don't have the painting anymore. :( Sometimes, though, it's the process that beats all. :)

06-06-2011, 09:39 PM
Patti, It sounds like you are very creative and have done all kinds of crafts! I haven't heard anyone mention tatting in a long time!! I've never tried it (wouldn't have the patience) but when my son was born an elderly lady, who was a dear friend of ours, made him a tatted cap and booties. They were so pretty, and I know she spent hours and hours making them....so I didn't have the heart to tell her the booties were too small to fit on his feet. I did take some photos of him in the little cap, and they are so cute!

Anthony, I think you are right, it depends on our own definition... Oh, I just saw your signature line in red....good question! :D

Hi Linda, yeah that's neat to still have that special memory! :)

06-22-2011, 06:08 AM
Up until 30 years old, I seriously "played" with art. I thought I was creative, had an artistic "lean" to everything I did.. but until I started devoting 8 hours a day to art, whether painting, studying, gathering reference photos, I thought..yeah.. I might just be an artist.. but it dawned on me, with that big lightbulb on top of your head, after I sold my 5th piece for a lot of money.. you're an artist..duh.

Plus... when you would rather spend money on supplies, than clothes.. *L* You might be an artist.

When your art supplies take up more room than your best friends shoe closet, which happens to be a whole bedroom.. You might be an artist. :eek: :lol:

When you meander past a make up counter, and you look at the lipstick thinking, I wish I had that color in acrylic, or watercolor/pastel whatever..:D You might be an Artist!

When you spent a whole month, trying to loose weight, only to give up.. then start a painting.. that takes a week.. and you have to be reminded to eat.. You might just be an Artist... (and the surprise you get when you lost 5 pounds because you were in the zone!)

When you spend three hours looking for some vegetable cleaner, that you can use in a painting process.. You might be an artist.

When you'd rather have art supplies, for valentines day than chocolate, flowers, or diamonds.. You might be an artist!

When you stay up at night, typing this stuff.. and thinking.. good grief, all those things I have done! You're an artist... have a great day peoples!!

So many ways to discover, you're an artist.. :lol:

06-22-2011, 09:29 PM
artbox, Thanks for such an entertaining response, I really enjoyed reading it! :)

Yes, I'm starting to spend too much money on art supplies and framing, I think I'll need to buy all my clothes from the thrift store...but, that's okay! :)

06-23-2011, 12:00 AM
When did I know? I think my parents KNEW I was a artist at the age of 3. It was recorded in the baby book that at 3 years old, I loved to color. Apparently, I was a artist in the making! :) Actually, I'm deaf, so I think that being a artist helps me to express myself better towards other people - especially for communication purposes when I was younger! It always seemed to be a icebreaker around other kids when they wanted to hang out with me, etc.

Always carried around my drawing supplies wherever I went, that was my childhood, I always had a sketchbook, crayons, markers, pencils, colored pencils, paint, I would teach myself to draw things, I taught myself how to draw Disney characters, and so on. I noticed that I preferred to draw animals/dogs my entire life, never had a interest in the human body and I've attempted once or twice to do that, but I couldn't seem to get a good handle of it.

My favorite subject in elementary school/middle school/high school was art! Went on to Ohio State University and majored in art. I'm 26 years old now, and I love to illustrate/sketch/draw and do photography.

06-24-2011, 10:15 PM
Hi Rachel, thanks for commenting! :)

that is interesting that your childhood was filled with being creative, and your parents recognized right away that you were artistic!

Yes, that makes sense, if you are deaf, that you would be drawn to visual expression.

(...and small world, my son is almost 26 and went to OSU also)

06-26-2011, 11:36 AM
I've always enjoyed drawing, painting and creating, but never considered myself a true "artist" until other people started calling me one. I guess I never thought I was good enough to have that title. Being completely self-taught, I remember thinking that if I could come up with my own original works that were not copied from a teaching book or other work that I could become an artist some day. I had gotten to the point that copying to learn was very inhibiting, and I finally got the courage to strike out and create my own stuff. I think that is when I actually blossomed into a true artist.

Ray Berry
06-27-2011, 06:29 PM
In Greek culture each of the nine Muses oversaw a different field of human creation:

Calliope (the 'beautiful of speech'): chief of the muses and muse of epic or heroic poetry
Clio (the 'glorious one'): muse of history
Erato (the 'amorous one'): muse of love or erotic poetry, lyrics, and marriage songs
Euterpe (the 'well-pleasing'): muse of music and lyric poetry
Melpomene (the 'chanting one'): muse of tragedy
Polyhymnia or Polymnia (the '[singer] of many hymns'): muse of sacred song, oratory, lyric, singing and rhetoric
Terpsichore (the '[one who] delights in dance'): muse of choral song and dance
Thalia (the 'blossoming one'): muse of comedy and bucolic poetry
Urania (the 'celestial one'): muse of astronomy

No muse was identified with the visual arts of painting and sculpture. In ancient Greece sculptors and painters were held in low regard, somewhere between freemen and slaves, their work regarded as mere manual labour.

The word art is derived from the Latin "ars", which, although literally defined means, "skill method" or "technique", holds a connotation of beauty.

During the Middle Ages the word artist already existed in some countries such as Italy, but the meaning was something resembling craftsman, while the word artesan was still unknown. An artist was someone able to do a work better than others, so the skilled excellency was underlined, rather than the activity field. In this period some "artisanal" products (such as textiles) were much more precious and expensive than paintings or sculptures.

The first division into major and minor arts dates back to Leon Battista Alberti's works (De re aedificatoria, De statua, De pictura), focusing the importance of intellectual skills of the artist rather than the manual skills (even if in other forms of art there was a project behind).

With the Academies in Europe (second half of 16th century) the gap between fine and applied arts was definitely set.

Many contemporary definitions of "artist" and "art" are highly contingent on culture, resisting aesthetic prescription, in much the same way that the features constituting beauty and the beautiful, cannot be standardized easily without corruption into kitsch.

Artist is a descriptive term applied to a person who engages in an activity deemed to be an art. An artist also may be defined unofficially as "a person who expresses him- or herself through a medium". The word is also used in a qualitative sense of, a person creative in, innovative in, or adept at, an artistic practice.

Most often, the term describes those who create within a context of the fine arts or 'high culture', activities such as drawing, painting, sculpture, acting, dancing, writing, filmmaking, photography, and music—people who use imagination, talent, or skill to create works that may be judged to have an aesthetic value. Art historians and critics define artists as those who produce art within a recognized or recognizable discipline. Contrasting terms for highly-skilled workers in media in the applied arts or decorative arts include artisan, craftsman, and specialized terms such as potter, goldsmith or glassblower. Fine arts artists such as painters succeeded in the Renaissance in raising their status, formerly similar to these workers, to a decisively higher level, but in the 20th century the distinction became rather less relevant.

Often, discussions on the subject focus on the differences among "artist" and "technician", "entertainer" and "artisan", "fine art" and "applied art", or what constitutes art and what does not. The French word artiste (which in French, simply means "artist") has been imported into the English language where it means a performer (frequently in Music Hall or Vaudeville). Use of the word "artiste" can also be a pejorative term.

The English word 'artiste' has thus, a narrower range of meaning than the word 'artiste' in French.

So what does the question mean to me? When did you know you were an Artist?.

I grew up 65 years ago. As a kid I used to draw, doodle, whatever. Nothing I thought was artistic or clever. In my primary school I used to paint in my art class and also played the violin. In my secondary grammar school I had a superb art teacher - we called her Dolly - but I went through the whole process, noy only drawing and painting but art history, technology and discussing why and who should be an artist. As I grew older I wrote poetry, some of which was published in a book sponsored bu the UN. I, for one reason and another became a nurse, a technical operator in BP Chemicals, a drug rep and finally went back to college to become a digital engineer. Who cares?

All this time, sometimes occasionally and sometimes often I scrabbled together paper and paint and today nearly everything is lost. Now I am retired and live here on the sunny island of Greece called Crete. I came first in 1966 and fell in love with it, today I am here until I die. But in the meantime I still paint, watercolour and acrylics, and I will keep on doing so as long as I can.

In the meantime I have taken photographs, from slides through film to digital. Some of them I am proud of. I also write articles about Crete on my blog crete.wordpress.com so - am I an artist. As always, it is for you to say, not me.


Marty Shay
06-27-2011, 07:45 PM
This thread so depressed me I couldn't finish reading it. I guess that says I certainly don't consider myself an artist, the title is beyond me. Thank goodness for your statement under your signature, Elinor, it saved me and made me laugh, wow!

"It takes two artists to do a painting. One to paint it and the other to shoot him before he ruins it"

This describes me--I'm so anal about my paint on canvas that I can't stop on a portrait--only time constraints finally end it. I find myself doing self-talk "leave it alone, don't pick up that brush, don't touch it again, stop it!!, don't touch it again" as I'm going for the brush and making "just one more line, just correcting that one little thing, just a touch here or there", etc. I finally quit out of frustration more than satisfaction but still I pick up the brush to do another painting--is that insanity or devoted to expression through paint?? I have no idea, just know I "have" to paint the next one--compelled to do so, when I see an animal face that stops me, I fixate on it wanting to put it on canvas. Some of my commissions call out to me until I get them finished, can't leave them alone. I have sold things, in fact almost all I do now are commissions -- does that make one an artist--selling something? Seems there is a difference of opinion on this thread.

As others have said, I didn't have time to paint when I was younger, I started after I lost my job at almost retirement age. I had wanted to try painting animal faces for years and years but 1) never thought I could and 2) didn't have the time. When I lost my job, it was then or never so I picked up a paint brush. Artist??, goodness "NO", nowhere near that title of achievement. Odd, since years ago I worked in stained glass and did lots and lots of original pieces--lamps, doors, windows, (never suncatchers) etc. I was equally as anal there as I am with my painting, it's just harder to add a little touch here or there in stained glass, you cut it, lead it, solder it, polish it and you're done! My favorite things were complicated, intricate lamps--working in paint on canvas is easier, :-).

Thanks for the laugh, Elinor, it saved me from the depths of despair over my imperfection and allowed me to read a little more, :-). Now I have to find a poor shot who will help me finish a painting :-).

06-27-2011, 08:37 PM
Hi Karen, Thanks for commenting, it sounds like you have had an interesting journey to arrive at where you are now! :)

Ray, thanks for your response. Sounds like you have had an interesting journey also. You said nearly all of your artwork is lost??

Marty, sorry this was a depressing thread, it was supposed to be enlightening and entertaining! :D and it was probably my mistake for capitalizing the word Artist...I didn't mean an official ARTIST, I just meant a creative person, someone who looks at the world a little differently... bottom line, I think if you have a passion to keep painting, then you are an artist. Sometimes it is so rewarding, and sometimes it is really frustrating....only a true artist (whatever that means) would keep coming back for more and keep trudging away...! I had to laugh as you described your dialogue to yourself, "leave it alone, don't pick up that brush, don't touch it again, stop it!! :)

(and I agree, I like Elinor's quote!, I sometimes wish that little man would show up at the right time and put a gun to my head...!!)

06-27-2011, 09:19 PM
This is a question which weighed heavily on my mind in my first 3 years of painting. I didn't consider myself to be an artist, since my works were so amateurish. I have seen people fall over their feet in their rush to call themselves "artists" when they were quite clearly, beginners. Somehow to me it seemed as if the word artist was not just an identification but a title which had to be earned. Odd maybe, but that is how I looked at it.

But ever so slowly one painting followed another and I began selling my works. I went around to art shows and developed new friendships in the art community.

I followed that up by producing an art blog which was picked as one of the 75 best art blogs. (don't ask me how it happened for I have no idea - they judged and they picked)

As time passed, I began to hear people call me an artist.

I took a big step and had professional cards produced - and I identified myself as an artist.

It wasn't an instant decision. It evolved.

But, interestingly enough, when I am talking to people I prefer calling myself "a painter".

Because at the end of the day, that is exactly what I do. I put paint on canvas and make pictures.

Marty Shay
06-27-2011, 11:26 PM
No problem with your post, Deb, it was totally my introspection investigating whether I thought that term truly applied to me. I share Baggy's thoughts too, artist is a term to be earned and one given to me by those who view my paintings more so than a term I feel worthy to give myself.

07-01-2011, 09:45 AM
When I looked for something to wear that did not have paint on it somewhere and realized that everything I own has at least one speck of paint :lol: - seriously, though, I was never encouraged as a child to do anything artistic and really never even thought about it. When I met my husband, I suddenly got the urge to do some painting and he wholeheartedly supported me. He has brought out all the best things in me! I am still new to painting, but I do paint enough that I now call myself an artist.

07-03-2011, 10:28 AM
Baggy, thanks for your comments, I enjoyed reading your perspective.

Marty, I forgot to mention, that's interesting that you used to work with stained glass. Stained glass pieces always catch my eye, but I doubt if I will ever get into it myself. I've played around a little with the sg paints though, and that was fun.

Reiki, that's why I try to only paint in old clothes! but sometimes you're walking by the painting on the easel and see one little thing that needs adjusting (right now!) and you think, Oh I'll be careful...and then Oops! :)

Marty Shay
07-03-2011, 03:05 PM
Deb: I loved stained glass, one of the most wonderful sounds is a perfect score with a glass cutter and then hearing that glass break away neatly and exactly along the score--it's a unique sound. I still have a studio full of beautiful stained glass sheets, that's a craft that takes all unique, exacting tools. Maybe some day I'll do more of it, I traveled everywhere finding just the exact piece of glass for each part in a project. I once did a wall divider (between a dining room and living room) of a horse jumping through an oval bevel onto a rocky shore, I probably drove 500 miles looking for just the right piece of pure, clear brown glass for his eye--I finally found it at one stained glass manufacturer and because it's Irish Waterglass with ripples, the horse's eye "moves" as the sun catches it at different times of the day or if you move around the room. (Pure clear brown glass with no imperfections or chips of color in it are very difficult to find). There were three large oval bevels in that piece, each glass piece on each bevel hand done for that particular oval. See I was anal then too, :-). But excellent stained glass needs excellent glass to begin with, that distinguishes gorgeous stained glass pieces from mediocre ones. I found people wouldn't pay the difference between gorgeous pieces and cheap imports, maybe someday they will.

07-03-2011, 05:50 PM
An artist is a craftsman with magical abilities...i choose to think of myself
as an artist. -m

07-03-2011, 10:27 PM
Hi Marty, Well if you "still have a studio full of beautiful stained glass sheets", I image you may feel inspired to try it again. I'll bet your wall divider was amazing!!

Manooch, Oh, I like your way of thinking! :)