This month has been the most productive month I have had in a long time. I feel like I have rediscovered something very important. I have rediscovered the power to strive.
Not to bore you with my sentimentalism, I will jump right to the subject; my art class.
The first day of drawing class, my professor –like most college professors- introduced us to the course materials and went over all the things that are going to be expected of her and those she will expect from us as well. Everything was pretty ordinary, like any other class, but then she said: “You can be the most skilled artist out there, but if you don’t draw something everyday, you are not truly an artist.” I may not be expressing it with her same words, but, what she told us is that without the discipline to become an artist we will never really be one. That was all I needed to hear to come to terms with my pathetic insecurities and excuses. I looked at myself in the mirror and said: “Fighting!”… Not really, this is something that happens in Korean dramas.
Coming back to the real world; I am expected to complete a sketch-book with ideas, gestures, drawings, pictures, writings, and notes on just about anything that exists in my world, or through my eyes to be precise. The professor does not want something fancy, she wants a book that defines who I am.
Well, I have started this self-defining book, and with it my commitment to become disciplined. I have managed to complete more than 15 pages in four weeks. I know is not exactly what she wants, but you can’t ask more of someone who went from not drawing anything at all for long periods of time, to actually drawing something every two or three days.
The professor seems very calm and lay back, but she knows how to put the pressure on you when necessary. I have created things in this class that I never thought myself capable of doing, and its all thanks to her support and determination.
For a while, I thought my talent had faded. Every time someone complemented me in my drawing skills and said I had talent, I would smile and say thank you, but inside of me I always felt I had become a phony. How can I have talent when all I do is copy something that has already been created? I couldn’t -or more like wouldn’t- draw anything that was not a picture, unless I had someone posing for me, like in previous art classes.What I have -I told myself- is skills. If that is a talent, then I do have talent yes! I’m extremely talented in that field. I had gone from using only water-colors and acrylics when I was a child, to not using color at all. I had gone from doing one or two drawings a night, to not drawing at all –only when forced. In this class I have broken out of that comfort zone in which I had put myself into, where all I needed was my skills to survive, and brought myself back to where girl meets talent and talent meets the paper, and together they create something good.
I feel the day that I will call myself a true artist will finally happen. It’s not a dream anymore, it’s real. I will become an artist. And it’s not because I will not copy from pictures anymore. It’s because I finally understood that I can still do that and use it as a learning process, which in the end it will give me the ability to create something of my own. For example; by copying from Motoro Mase’s Ikigami, I learned how to shadow in different tones without smudging, and I have gotten a better sense of light and facial expressions. From working in class, I have learned to come back to the drawing and work on it even if it is days after I first started it. This is a huge step for me.
(Untitled, graphite on paper)
I hope this serves as inspiration for others who are like me, in one word; insecure. In many; those who think they lack the “skills” or “talent” to become an artist. There is not such thing. There is talent, yes, but talent alone will not accomplish anything. We most learn from the basics and practice, practice, practice.
Artist; let me tell you one thing about this word, is underrated. Anybody can be an artist or called themselves one as long as whatever it is they do or create sells. I don’t want to become one of those “artist”. I want to have a base, to have roots. I want to go through the processes of becoming an artist, and not turn one overnight. I want to struggle in my path to realization. I want to suffer failures before I can succeed. This is what will give me the right to feel and say I am an artist. And this is what discipline is all about. How is that for defining yourself?