are you an artist?

For a year now, I’ve been watching people. I watch them at restaurants, movie theaters, church, and TJ Maxx. I watch them on TV, at the bank, on the street, at the airport. I think about God, how it says in 2 Chronicles that his eyes range to and fro throughout the whole earth in search of those whose hearts are fully committed. I’m searching for something else, but my eyes feel to and fro-ish while I do it. I can’t help it. I’m looking for artists.

It’s a hot topic, art. Last year Annie declared 2011 as a year that we will make art. Well, she declared it to me, in an email. And we did make art, yes we did. And I was challenged with what that actually meant, making art. I found myself clumping the painting type in with the living type and sometimes that was uncomfortable, though I couldn’t place why. Now I’m distracted with curiosity.

Everyone has their definitions but if you believe them all, I fear this art begins to lose all meaning. Most of them draw a clear line between artists (writers, singers, painters, dancers) and non-artists (mathemeticians, bankers, scientists, administrators, politicians). Then there is another group of people who find themselves between the artist they either used to or want to be, and the life they have now as a mother, a temp worker, a daycare owner, a student.

I realize a lot of people don’t consider themselves artists and have no desire to do so. But then there are a whole ‘nother group of people who long to identify themselves as artists but are terrified to do so. And in the midst of all this, I sit with my question – why is this three letter word so mysterious? All people are creative. But are all people artists? Is it important to make that distinction or not?

At the yogurt shop this weekend, I sat next to my kids on an unusually warm January Saturday. As I ate my vanilla yogurt with strawberries on top (and also oreos who am I kidding?) I watched a woman with a pink apron on zip around the shop like she had a jet pack on her back. She wiped the counters, changed out the sprinkles, chatted with the customers. She was pleasant, lighthearted, intentional. “She works like she owns the place,” The Man said to me.

I thought the same thing but with different words. She worked like an artist. She was motivated beyond what we could see, doing more than what was required. She seemed to fit there. Art isn’t so much the things we do but the way in which we do them. May I ask you? If you consider yourself an artist, tell us why. And if you don’t, tell us why not.


  1. says

    Great post and LOVELY pictures

    I’m not an artist by trade, or really even by hobby. But I am someone who finds joy in expressing myself creativly, if that makes sense. SO, I appreciate your appreciation:) -Audry Cece

  2. says

    I want to consider myself an artist, one who uses words, not paints, one who creates art in the kitchen and in the act of creating this space for us to knock around in, as a family, but when I go to say the words, to give myself the “title”, artist, it lodges in my throat and I am suddenly embarrassed and feeling unworthy. What I want to know is, why can’t we say it? What exactly is it about claiming the name that is so terrifying? So I guess I didn’t answer your question… I think the reason I don’t call myself an artist is because I feel unworthy of the title. I feel like, to be artist implies that my art must meet some unknown criteria of excellence toe considered art, and of course, I don’t feel ‘good enough’ to meet the standard. Whatever that imaginary standard is….

    Thanks Emily, for getting me thinking about this….

    • says

      oh, I wrestle this same thought, and feel silly when I roll the words artist, or writer for that matter around in my mouth… “I’m not those things, I just DO those things…” I too stop short because I feel unworthy of that title. Seems to me a challenge to believe this about ourselves is upon us :)

      • says

        But isnt’ DOING those things the art of it? Not the product, but the process {of writing, of cooking}… that is the art…

        Kris and Tara… you are artists :)

    • Bonnie says

      You know Kris, I used to think the same way about my art. Saying I am an artist sounded so strange to me. For me everyone was better than me. Until I heard someone say , the expression of art is Never wrong. I thought I use my hands and what comes out is what I created and I thought no this is not as good as anyone else , until others thought it was so great. I think I just did not think I could do as well as others . I then thought any thing I do is an expression from my heart and it is good. God calls it good. I started saying I was an artist. And it made me not proud but knowing that is what I am creating that makes that true. Whether it be painting carousel horses , making jewelry or even just changing my furniture around to suite me, I was creating making something beautiful for me. Your my dear are the expression of God and a good artist at that. Blessings, Bonnie

  3. Sarah says

    If someone asked me if I am an artist, I would say no. Yet, if I’m not creating (mostly by writing) I feel like I’m not really living. So, maybe I am…

    Great thoughts!

  4. Allison says

    I have been reading your blog for some time now so I have seen you play around with this notion of “art” on many occasions. At each mention I would think to myself, “I am a creative person, but definitely can’t call myself an artist.” Until I read your last two paragraphs. The woman in the yogurt shop “was motivated beyond what we could see” and “seemed to fit there.” Then, I got it. This is how I feel about what I do. Finally, I see that my art is the “living form” kind. There will never be a product since my passion, that is teaching, is sprinkled on humans instead of paper or stanzas, but I know that it is beautiful none the less. Thank you for that.

  5. says

    oh, I think we are all artists, if we are willing to use it. My brother is a professional musician, and it always blows my mind when I hang out with his group of friends. They are painters, photographers, tattoo artists, you name it, they’ve got art just seeping out of them. I’ve got to admit, I feel intimidated around them. I am a working mother, going to school, sit in a cubical all day… but one day my brother asked me why I don’t share my writing with others. I told him it is because of how I don’t want to appear something I’m not {a TRUE artist, as if there is one way to live art}. He said something to me that I won’t forget. He said, “you know Tara, the difference between making art and creating art is you have to be vunerable to share it with others…risk being seen…it takes both risk and failure to define an artist, nothing else really.”

    • says

      I LOVE this, Tara. It feels very right. I used to feel strange blogging or showing my art to anyone, thinking it was awfully narcissistic, like I was just begging people to lookatme! lookatme! lookatme! It was a false humility that stopped me, saying that I’m not important enough to share my words out there in the wide world, but it turned out to be pride. I was afraid of what they would think. I didn’t want to risk rejection, or even obscurity.

      Partly I feel that Michael Hyatt gave me permission to put my writing out there and even to seek more followers, in what was a throwaway phrase on his blog, something so obvious it didn’t need more justification. He said, “… of course writers want to be read.”

      I hadn’t considered that being read is what makes my art come alive, but it makes perfect sense. If I’m writing in the dark, never showing it to anyone, it might change me, but art is meant to be shared. The co-creators with God thing really makes sense once you’re out there, sharing your art with the world.

      Thank your brother for me. :)

  6. Anna says

    I’ve always enjoyed your ‘art’ posts too. More and more I’ve thought it’s something to do with people’s unique self expression – being themselves – reflections/expressions of THE Artist, His works of art.

  7. says

    Emily, I cherish how you notice the art in the small things. Life is more beautiful when we choose to notice art and celebrate the artists behind them. What a powerful reminder!

  8. says

    art is birthed with the stuff of life. starts with the way you stir the soup, the gentle way you braid a child’s hair or the slow rhythm you keep as you vacuum the rug. maybe it’s the persistent way you run at 5:45 a.m. EVERY morning, that you hold a shut-in’s hand for an hour on Wednesday mornings or always fold the bath towels vertically in thirds. we all have this beautiful opportunity to create a work of art by how we live.

  9. Karen W says

    Love your posts! I’ve always dreamed about being an artist…one who uses oil or acrylic paints but at 52 it hasn’t happened yet. But God is showing me another side of myself. I agree with Kathryn’s post…we all have the opportunity. If God is creative and we are created in His image then we all have the capacity to be creative as well. It just shows up in so many ways! He is multifaceted…so too would be the ‘art’ is expressed by each one of us. Thank you for helping me to think outside the box!

  10. says

    I want to consider myself and artist. My friends think I’m creative. So then it must be. Right? Haha!

    Actually, I came to grips with this a number of years ago when I led a team of people to transform a large lobby (the size of two gyms) into a magical area for kids. With such a large space I had to think big. So, I would lie down on my couch in the afternoon when no one was home. Blank paper out and wait for God to inspire me. The ideas flowed. And the best part wasn’t what was created….though that was amazing, thanks to a talented team….it was being connected to THE CREATOR. And knowing that I was a part of something bigger than myself.

    That experience leads me to think that art is availability. Opening ourselves to the Creator so that we can be his paintbrush or chain saw or flute to make beauty and glorify his name.

  11. says

    I don’t know what I am! I love to create. I’ve always loved to create. But I’m not all that inventive or talented compared to artists I know. I am, however, the one my friends call when they want their house rearranged or need decorating advice or want their closets purged in an effort to find new outfits. They get me to take pictures of their families or ask me to help them accessorize. I’ve always been that go-to girl for stuff like that and I love it. Often I hear, “You’re so creative” but I don’t think I’m all that original or talented. But I’ve decided that “creative” and “inventive” don’t have to go hand in hand.

    I’m probably over-thinking the whole thing. When it comes down to it, I simply like beauty in its many forms. I like to make it. I like to wear it. I enjoy studying it. I like to help other people find it. I desperately appreciate it.

  12. says

    Someone once said my whole house was artistic. It threw me for a loop. How can my whole house be artistic when it is just a collection of things I’ve made, I like and are there because I want them there. I guess, I couldn’t see it that way because I was taking myself out of the equation. By how you define artist, which I love by the way, and add myself in, I would agree that my house is indeed artistic and myself an artist by how I work within it’s walls. Thanks for the thought this am.

  13. says

    In a recent conversation with a family member about my blog (which is admittedly tiny, but with a solid and loyal following), he asked, “So, you want to be a writer?” At that moment it clicked. Ire crept up in me. Even though I might never have actually said it before . . . was even embarrassed to tell people “I am a blogger,” I heard myself say with a smile of conviction, “Actually, I AM a writer.” I AM a writer! I AM a blogger. I AM an artist. When God says that he made us in His image, I think this is what he is talking about. Other creatures make beautiful things instinctively (like nests or dams or collections), but only people can be artists like our Creator.

  14. says

    I used to say NO WAY I am not an artist…because I had very limited perception of an artist. Artists could draw and paint and scrapbook and make their houses look like those model homes. I am not an artist if you limit it to those definitions. But, I create with words and when I do it makes me feel alive.

  15. says

    This post speaks right to me on many levels. Love what you replied to the last commenter, “that thing that makes you come alive is your art.” So true.
    While I create art, I do not consider myself an artist. Just like I cook, but do not consider myself A cook. I run, but do not consider myself a runner, and the list goes on. I’m not sure what the defining factor is, that takes me from merely from creating art to labeling myself an artist. But, like you said, does it really matter if what we do fulfills us and makes us come alive? Thanks for making me think. xo

  16. says

    Oh man, Amber just nailed something for me. About the OTHER, trying to call out to the other….

    Emily, I can’t tell you how many things are speaking to me in this post. I watched your whole art series from ‘the sidelines’ (as it seemed in my head) last year while working an awful, awful job that just killed my soul. But finances were such that I couldn’t quit, and somehow, about mid-year- I was able to ‘love the hell that I was in’ and just be myself, serve from my heart (sometimes through tears) and that changed how the job felt to me. And now, the new year is here, and I was able to leave the job…and that big old word is staring me down again. Creating art just brings me so much joy- it’s (as Amber says) a tracing out of that beauty, that other, that we seem to barely catch save at the corner of our eye as it passes by…and goodness, my blog has been named Memoria ARTS for years. But I never seem to really share the art that I love creating- always skirting past it- and I think it has a lot to do with being scared. But I’m realizing that art doesn’t just stop at the palette or the canvas- it infuses, pounds along the vein. It’s okay to bring beauty. That is what I have learned from you this last year…to listen to that pounding in my heart, and to heed…

  17. says

    I have always considered myself as creative until I really had a chat with the Lord about my identity. I asked him how he felt about me and about flowers. He gave me the passage about the Levites building the temple and how he called all “skilled craftsmen” to design the temple & it’s furniture and articles and how He actually had given them the skilled gifts to be artist. I would pray that what was creative in my heart about flowers would translate into art in my work of flowers. To me that is the difference. Lots of people are creative. Our God is creative. He loves to create. I believe that when the creative gifting inside you is worked out in a tangible way that is when you become an artist.

  18. says

    I know I’m artistic, whether anyone likes my kind of art or not, I like it. I make art with yarn, with plates, with words, with photographs. I tend to be usless in political debates, ecclesastical proticol, or at least no one thinks my idea will work in these areas…they should at least try…Oh, well.

    I’m an atrist because I love to read the way you and Ann write, and your photographs and the way others form words into pictures. I wish I could take a picture of the sound of a child’s laughter, or water cascading over rocks…I find art in others responses to difficult situations, or the things they choose to celebrate…I guess I had better stop now. I’m feeling very inspired!

    Have a wonderful day everyone!

  19. says

    Yes, finally I do. But not because I’m “doing” differently than I ever did. I finally see that the “voice”, the “nudge”, the “child”, the “spunky, little quirky one” that wells inside and brings Joy, she IS the artist, and she and I are inseparable.
    Emily, I so love and appreciate how you help us all to see who we truly are. Such a gift to the world that is!

  20. says

    I love your description of the woman working at the yogurt shop. I’ve seen this also, as some people seem so perfectly fitted for the spot they are in. I want to call myself an artist with words, but I guess I’m not brave enough yet. I do know that when I write I feel like I fit. Thanks for causing me to think on this…

  21. says

    It’s kinda funny, because I didn’t consider myself an artist until I started being paid for my work. My standards…not His, or my husband’s, or friend’s. They all saw the potential WAY before I did. Now I would say, yes I am an artist, though I still struggle with the “good enoughs.” I have come to learn though that art(ist) is more a state of being rather than a product…contentment with what you do, and I’m starting to feel more comfortable in those shoes. Thanks again Emily for the reminder!!

  22. says

    because i always compared myself with my brother (who paints) and my sister (who sings), i never felt like an artist. their art was so obvious, so beautiful.

    i finally realized my art is beautiful, too, but it was hidden away in journals and on scribbled napkins and password protected computer files.

    sometimes i think i just became an artist because i just learned to see words as art. but that’s wrong. i’ve always been an artist; i was created by the Artist to create & i’ve been doing it all along, and even when I didn’t realize it….He did.

  23. says

    I have always wanted to be called an artist. I have been reading your posts, and now I am confused :)! In my heart I have the potentil to be, but in my mind I have been letting other things distract me out of fear of failure….photography, scrapbooking, quilting, sewing, cooking, blogging, Perhaps I was one all along???

  24. says

    I welcome the conversation on art today!
    What you are writing about is creativity and it fascinates me; as a topic of research and a passion to pursue. Though I formally am not considered an artist I have used creativity constantly through a 30 year teaching career and have pursued creative avocation my whole life. Creativity is so divinely linked with the Holy Spirit. When in the’ flow’ of bringing that inner sense to exterior representation, I am in a state similar to prayer and meditation. A state of absorption and joy.

  25. says

    I used to not consider myself an artist. Because I felt like I couldn’t compete with other artists – people who were successful and people whose words touched me in a way I never thought mine could. I felt like all my attempts at photography and crafting were a joke. But I’ve found that I love creating. I love using that side of my brain and tapping into any an all kinds of beauty. That love is what art is to me. It’s not being good at it or being better than someone else. It’s loving what I do and doing what I love.

    So, yes, I am an artist. And it feels so great to say that.

  26. says

    I say yes to everything you’ve said here! Having been involved in music and writing my whole life, it seems I’m an obvious-to-accept artist. But my man – my sciencey man who {for this assignment} teaches physics at the Air Force Academy – is a less obvious but true artist as well. But it’s science! At a military school, for cryin’ out loud! Still, he has a heart for kids that age and always goes above and beyond in all requirements. And in that he creates and comes alive.

    • says

      Oh yes! the art of creating…and science is actually a very creative field, ‘though less viewed as art. My oldest son loves science and he’s always engineering and designing all types of things. From buildings with blocks, to army guns, to making crystal from science projects…I agree Kristen, this is art too!

    • says

      I feel you all the way!!! My degree is in Education with an emphasis on English. But I married an Engineer. I’m sure your hubby and I could get into some DEEP topics.

      Not until this past year did I see that when he’s figuring out problems and tinkering with numbers he’s in his element. If he’s pulled away from that, he withers up and shuts down. He loves working with numbers. I love working with words. Hand him an algebraic equation and he’s in heaven. PLEASE don’t hand me one.

      He has shown me clearly that whatever and wherever you are in your element- that is art.

  27. says

    Oooo, these are good questions. I think art is scary because, well, it’s vulnerable. And that’s risky. Art involves some form of raw exposure and everyone CAN do that, but not everyone WILL do that. It doesn’t have to be on canvas or in writing or photography. I feel any person who lives a raw life before others, that’s the most beautiful art there is, no matter how it’s expressed. I recently watched “Buck” on Netflix. He’s the “horse whisperer” who passion for horses lead him to a whole ‘other world of training them. But it’s not the horses that had me mesmermized, ‘though his techinque is interesting, it was Buck’s life and story unfolding in such sweet, but raw, truth that I think “Now that is art!”.

  28. says

    Obviously, this post has touched many.
    I count myself among those who have been touched. Challenged, really, on my thoughts about art.
    Love what was said about God being the Ultimate *Creator*, from whom all creativity flows. That we would all be “good stewards of the manifold {many-folded} grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10) by unreservedly opening up the artist within to bless the world. This is truly nothing less than worship. Stepping outside of our self-conscious insecurity and pouring out the beauty of fragrance on the feet of Jesus.
    Thanks for a great discussion catalyst, Emily.

  29. says

    I want so badly to own that title Emily. I have wondered about the same things and perhaps a little more. I wonder – do I have to be eccentric, disorganized, moody…..all of those things the world attaches to the word artist. I am really none of those things. I am that good girl you wrote so eloquently about. I can’t write if the things around me are messy, and I would never be considered eccentric. I am so ordinary and wonder if that disqualifies me as a “true” artist.
    I would rather think of it as you do. That whatever we do becomes art when we do it with all our heart and perhaps, for those who know the Lord, as an offering back to Him.

  30. says

    Me. Photographer. Writer. Artist. Soap maker. Life mess maker.

    I struggle with the airy Artist word. That perhaps it overlooks some way in which I engage my world. It is haughty and requires a gilded frame, an enormous wall with on-lookers.

    I think that art, and being an artist links us in some ways to the God, Light, Love that we worship and understand that we are meant to worship. And seeing that connection can us somehow feel like we are making idols of ourselves or our work. Often we fear our light more than our dark (thanks Archbishop Tutu for that reminder). We get caught up in measuring and restricting and forget that He MADE us this way.

    So even though my website proclaims that I get the shot…more often than not these days I work at getting the soap, or the words, or the dinner…knowing that the shots, the images are always, always lying in wait in my mind and my heart. He gave me that gift, and last time I checked he wasn’t one to steal them back.

    Thanks for sharing and asking Emily.

  31. says

    it definitely is an art to be a good, productive student. balancing and managing. it’s like a painting in progress, there’s tons of things to do before it’s finished but you must decide priorities and order for it to really turn out. sometimes i feel like i run around like a chicken with it’s head cut off but mostly it’s the ebb and flow of art in motion.

  32. says

    Oh, Emily. I have been wrestling with this very idea for a year or so now, and it’s really come to a head for me in the last few months. (in fact, I wrote a post on the same thing today!). I so identify with the desire to call myself an artist, to call what I do art. But, it makes me feel like a little girl playing dress up. I like to try the title on, but it doesn’t really seem to fit. I think a great deal of it comes down to believing that other people will see that ill fitted dress and know it too.

    I’ve really appreciated your perspective on art in your posts, and I’d love to read more of your thoughts on it.

  33. says

    I agree with so many of the comments above! I pondered this question when I was naming my blog. Could I use the word “Art” in the title? That would be calling myself an artist! What if people saw my posts and didn’t think my work qualified me to be an artist? Those questions and more crossed my mind. I thought about it for at least a month but I just couldn’t steer away from it. I finally decided it didn’t matter. While it is nice to have folks who approve of my artwork, in the end as long as it appeals to me, and I am enjoying the process of doing what I love, that’s all that truly matters. After all, there is no right or wrong when it comes to art! Just because a piece of art doesn’t appeal to us, doesn’t mean it doesn’t appeal to others. Not everyone likes Picasso.

    In any event, I write, sew, paint, collage, art journal and more so I am doing the same things that many artists do (minus the shows and fame of course). Why does the end result of each piece have to meet certain approval in order to make me an artist? I think I’m an artist. Therefore, I am.

  34. Carolyn says

    I have never really ever considered myself to be an artist. I have never won (nor ever will) an art contest and the portfolio I kept from the one time I took an intro to sketching class with some girlfriends is a surefire way to a good laugh when shown (I’m okay with that). I do enjoy singing but know it’s best kept to the shower or in the car with the kids (God bless their sense of humour). And, I do enjoy writing although I’ve never pursued it beyond just a hobby.

    I will say though that I recently made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom (thanks to God’s blessings and a hard working hubby that makes this possible). When I did this, I didn’t consider the art in it until one day when the reverend who married my husband and I suggested it to be a very creative calling. That comment stuck with me and I am beginning to look at this role with fresh eyes. So though I may never channel an inner Picasso or Bocelli, I am realizing that my definition of art is changing and that there actually are a number of ways I can use my creativity.

  35. says

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! I am an artist. And I truly believe that I am also a piece of art, as are we all.

    Everyday is a chance to take something and to bend it and pull it and to work it and to make something out of it. Something beautiful, something different, something new, something…something. ANYTHING.

    I enjoy painting sentences with colorful words. I enjoy taking pictures and capturing moments of life’s best kept secrets. I enjoy breathing, and walking. Talking and singing. I enjoy not only making pieces of art, but letting my life and everything that makes it, come together…canvasing a greatly intricate, beautiful piece of art.

    Just another day learning lessons from the Master Potter…

  36. Debbie says

    I believe the Lord gives each individual a gift. It is with discovery that gifts
    emerge during each of our lives. I am in my 50’s and never considered myself
    and artist. Writing was something I loved to do but lacked confidence to share
    with others. During the last couple of years decided to share my writings with
    family and friends. With a new found confidence in this later in life gift that
    has emerged recently self published a book. I want to encourage anyone that
    has a dream of sharing their gifts with others to persue it! You are never to
    mature to reach for the stars! Take a chance the Lord has given each of us
    to persue like buried treasure you just have to find it. The happiness is has
    given me in the last few months is unmeasurable.

  37. says

    I AM an artist, working in watercolor. I also scrapbook and make up my own designs (don’t like prefab designs); I’m a pianist and singer (church, weddings and funerals) and I love to be creative! I’m a big DIY-er if it is something I am interested in. Creativity is vital to my existence; will be taking a photography class this year, I hope…and I would love to be more of a writer than I am now (been pondering a couple of songs and a book). Even praying about a business opportunity in my mind for my art….please join me in prayer about that.

    Love you, love your book and studying it with my women in my small group….praying for you, dear one!


  38. says

    I’ve got to say yes, I am an artist. (Louder than a whisper, but not quite a confident yell.) For when I’ve said no, I haven’t pursued my art. And I’ve felt the slow blinding of those eyes that snap mental pictures, stop moments in time, truly see as they unpack beauty and meaning.
    I am an artist because life makes more sense to me, God feels closer and I feel more alive when I “art.” Beauty-making in this home of ours, dancing barefoot, writing, taking photos, truly listening — when I am present to seeing and feeling as artist, I know life and the moment more fully.
    I think I have to say, too, that the creative act of mothering my three girls has awakened me to art lived. Walking through this world awake and in active partnership with the Creator in these days, in their days — this is the life of the mother artist. The work that pulls forth the guts. Sometimes I need my chisel, sometimes my fingertips and sometimes my finest-point brushes. My mama work is largely about seeing as an artist and learning the right tool to use at the right time. Recognizing that the art of their lives (and mine) are continually being shaped by the Master. When I identify as artist, I have the privilege of partnering with Him in forming beauty.

  39. says

    I am definitely an artist – and have always considered myself one. But sometimes I don’t feel like I especially live up to the title. I have no idea why… if I’m not producing “art” I feel like a fraud – afraid someone will discover I’m not really an artist at all.
    Sounds silly… but it’s there. Just under the surface.

  40. says

    Emily, I neglected to say, but wanted you to know, how much your discussion of art, artists and embracing the good of that identity helped me step out as an artist. It has been life-changing for me. Thank you.

  41. Sally says

    Emily….thank you for this beautiful post today. I find when I come home from work that one of my “happys” is to get on the computer and check out all the blogs I love so much…..with yours being at the top of the list. I loved the pictures. My hope one day is to take a photo class to learn the basics of taking pictures. I see the pictures you take and you inspire me so much. It’s on my list of resolutions for 2012. Life can be trying at times. I take care of my elderly parents whose health seem to be delcining before my eyes. It makes me feel guilty to try and find “me” time and to also think think I could have done better with them. But you know what Emily?? I am going to ask for God’s grace to help me. Thank you for the gift of your beautiful blog and for you lovely book. I have enjoyed it so much my friend and am so proud of you that you were able to take this leap to share such beautiful words with so many of your dear followers.


  42. says

    I adore your way with words!

    yes.. I consider myself an artist — mainly because I have an insatiable desire to gaze upon beauty (hmm.. wonder where that came from?! :P) I find art in everything. And finding this art/beauty captivates me and pushes me to create. My creation may not be up to par with what most would considered “art,” but to me, it is art.

    “Art isn’t so much the things we do but the way in which we do them.” I agree. God is Creator. He’s constantly creating. Everything He does is art in one form or another. I am made in His image; thus, I create. He is an artist, therefore I am an artist :)

  43. says

    Some people actually call me an artist. In my mind I am trying to become an artist. I enjoy painting and drawing and actually made money this past year doing what I love! I am also an engineer. What? How does that happen? I think I have a brain where “spatial skills” rule. Just please don’t ask me to sing- or speak in public. Then you will see a really poor excuse for “art.”
    I always enjoy your writing!

  44. says

    I am one of those still longing…I think it’s fear that holds me back. I’m not really sure what it means exactly to be an artist, and I always feel like there must be some way to improve my skills and there’s the wondering if the base of the skills are even there at all. But I know I enjoy it and it helps me continue to learn about who God is and who I am in Him. That’s probably more important than the rest :)

  45. says

    When I taught third grade I would scribble pictures all over the black board and almost every time I would hear a little kid in the background say, “She’s an artist.” If only they knew that what I was drawing were pictures I learned to draw from a how-to book I checked out from the library when I was their age.

    But they were looking at art- me teaching. When I was in front of those kids I felt in my element. I felt alive and fulfilled. Of course my roll as a teacher has changed from standing in front of a classroom full of desks to a home full of cheerios fragments on the kitchen floor. But either way- I am in my element.

    Loved this post Emily! Can’t wait to make more art this year with what He’s given to me.

  46. says

    I am an artist. Why? I have never thought of why. I just am, I have always been. For that I must thank my mother. I told her I was going to be an artist and she believed me, she nurtured it when I got to middle school and put me in extra painting classes. In high school I went after art with an abandon. It was my escape from a town and state where I did not fit. I wanted to be a fashion designer, changed it to photography when I got to art school and then changed to graphic design. I designed books for 10 years but never felt it was quite right or I was good enough. I did pottery, sewing and felting as hobbies on the side. Then after awhile, quit my job to create textiles. I found my artform and it brings peace and calm to me. It also creates havoc and chaos.

    Everyone is an artist – everyone has the capability if they so desire. A lot of people get their creativity stomped out in childhood. But it is still there.

    I consider my art a gift. I see things others do not, I work and have drive and passion that just propel me to keep going even when every rational sign says to quit.

  47. Amy E. says

    Thank you for your posts about art. It has sparked alot of pondering in me and has become part of the journey and conversation that God and I have been having for the last year. I’m learning who I am, finally, at 41, and stepping out and doing new things, with Him right there. I am owning that I am a lover of words, that I love decorating, and I long to capture beauty with a camera (praying to own a swanky camera some day!), among other things. Thanks for asking the why? and are you? and what if? questions and digging deeper…it challenges us to dig with you.

  48. says

    I want to be an artist! I do. Perhaps my story could begin by striving each day to work toward the goal of becoming more like the artist I’d like to be…nonetheless, you’re an inspiration Emily

  49. says

    I have always enjoyed art. I studied art in high school and college. I ‘did’ art. I was somewhat taken aback by a college professor who said I had the technical skill with design and with different types of media, but that my art didn’t ‘mean anything.’ Yikes, that was a slam, and intimidating to my pursuit of artistic expression from then on, even though I tried not to let it be. I know it has kept me from saying, “Yes, I’m an artist,” because I think my art is missing something…

    In the last several years my art has been in being a homemaker and mom… Creating breads and meals for my family, nurturing babies into independent people. I do feel that I was born with more of a talent for babies than teens, which is where I am now and fall into doubting myself a bit.

    I’ve missed the creative, visual arts, though. I think I sometimes think it’s maybe trivial in the eyes of God and that it isn’t something that will encourage my spiritual growth or serve others. 2 things have told me I’m wrong about that. First, I was reading… over a period of days, because that’s how much there is to read… the description of how God wanted things designed for His Temple and the Ark of the Covenant. Beauty and detail were certainly important for the place in which He was to reside! The other was when my 7 yr old commented on my extra efforts to put more detail into our home’s Christmas decorations this year… That clearly meant something to him and he really took note, and I could see he felt served by it.

    I have been thinking about these things a lot, and it all swirls about in my head, hard to put into words or direction. All part of a grand puzzle I feel God is pulling together for me.
    Thanks for helping me bring this a bit more into focus. -Loving your blog, as always!

  50. says

    I’m resting today. I don’t feel well, I have a sick child, and I decided to stay home from work, lie in my bed and listen to the rain. I have been reading your blog for about a year. I have been trying to decide if the whole idea about being an artist applied to me. I don’t consider myself artistic. I don’t paint or draw. I’ve taken a few pictures that turned out really good, but it was never anything I could repeat. I read your post yesterday and felt validated. I’ve had that feeling – like what I did mattered and that I’d conquered the day. My full-time job is basically an accountant/bookkeeper position. I realized that my ability to understand numbers is something that can really help people when I worked at a bank while in college. I had a standing appointment with several elderly customers to help them balance their checkbooks. I have done some beautiful creative work with a calculator. I think I’m exhausted today from spending the last week going over and over the numbers for my office budget. The engineer I support refused to be satisfied with my work. One thing many artists cannot stand is having to rework something to please a customer who just doesn’t get it. It was beautiful the first time. After what seemed like the 87th iteration of the report I was working on, I realized I must be an artist. When I was finally able to please him with the final version, I felt like I just completed a masterpiece. And if you don’t think a spreadsheet can be a work of art, than you must be one of those writer, singer, painter, dancer types…. 😉

  51. says

    What I really think is that there are two kinds of artists: those who are wholly concerned with making Art and those whose art is the result of pleasure. I’m in the latter category. Some years ago l I stopped being concerned with Art and started creating out of pure pleasure. Now I make what I like and I think this pleases the Lord the most.

  52. says

    I’ve been following your site quietly for months on the recommendation of a dear friend. You inspire me, Emily. I’m motivated to come out into the light with what my heart writes. Thank you!

  53. says

    I’m reading your book, and finding lots of good fodder for thought.

    (I’m just about ready to tell my small congregation’s women we need to do this next, but felt I should at least get through the whole book first. {shy smile})

    I consider myself an artist when I’m creating something. That is, if I go through a depleted season where I’m primarily consuming, I doubt my identity as an artist.

    Very closely connected to that, I have a hard time deciding if something is art if I’m the only “consumer” of it. That is, you might compose the most amazing picture in that perfect evening light, but one level it’s meaningless if not recorded on film.

    What was it the reporter said in the musical “Newsies”? Something like, “If they (the newspapers) didn’t print it, it didn’t happen.”

    So even in my identity as an artist, I’m not able to be a true individual. I am reminded of my tie to the rest of the world because in the end, though I have to make my art (music, writing) in order to feel whole in myself, it is not enough to please myself alone. I need to know (as “unliberated” as I know it sounds) that I and what I do mean something to someone else.

  54. says

    I once took a class to learn artisan style sourdough bread making. I went with a friend. Several minutes in, we both put down our pens and laughed. When she asked what I thought I said, “He’s not a teacher, he’s an artist.” Now, that’s not to say that artists aren’t, or can’t be, great teachers. In fact, this particular baker has quite the reputation for teaching apprentices and then sending them off to the big city to spread all kinds of sourdough love. It’s just that a two hour class isn’t necessarily the place to learn sourdough bread making techniques. What stood out to me was the responses from people. Some were visibly agitated when he would answer a question by saying something like, “you’ll learn through experience what the dough feels like…smells like…how it looks…” He even went so far as to say that we would fail. Maybe a lot before getting a good loaf of bread. People we’re frustrated. They wanted a formula for bread making success and all he talked about was the process. Art! It was a joy to sit back and be inspired by someone who loved his craft. So, I didn’t learn to make sourdough, but I was inspired to start doing more of the things I love. And I head to farmer’s market on Saturdays and buy a loaf of bread from a true artist. Thanks for writing about art. It’s like arrows straight to my heart.

  55. says

    How interesting that you would post this… I was just recently telling my husband that I believe myself to be an “artist”, even though that isn’t my “career”, and I’ve not had any official training for the arts (of any kind). But, I believe myself to be an artist, because I create — I love to draw/sketch, blog/write, play piano, etc. Creativity calls to me.

    But, my husband defines it differently, and so he argued that I am not an artist. He thinks that, because I have no official training, I am not an “artist”… that I can’t call myself that.

    Either way, I still believe I am. 😉

    • says

      It’s an interesting conversation. I think you’re right, lots of people define artist differently. I guess I think it’s important to connect with our creative hearts no matter what you decide to call yourself.

  56. says

    I need to let some art back into my life. I need some beauty that gives me rest, peace and a place to exhale. So inspired this morning (even though it’s a really dreary day and I’m at home with a sick kiddo, missing church)-so inspired!

  57. says

    I think the term “artist” has become overused and over extended until it is almost meaningless. In my opinion people who create art are artists. People who write are writers. People who act are actors. People who create music are musicians. People who take photos are photographers. People who create crafts are craftsmen. Or women. Why do we lump them all together and call them artists? Is there something “less” about being called a writer, actor, photographer, musician or craftsperson? Doing something artistically is not the same as being an artist but that doesn’t make it less valuable. As a matter of fact I think it adds dimension and beauty to your life. But I don’t think it makes you an artist. I call myself an artist because I am a painter…and if I say I’m a painter instead of an artist people tend to assume I paint houses for a living.

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