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“Am I still an Artist?” Thoughts about Identity change.

Two years ago, if a stranger asked me what I did for a living, I would say “I’m an artist” without the blink of an eye. It wasn’t exactly true, because being an artist didn’t make me a real “living”. It was something I did, surely. But I always had a full time job that enabled me to be an artist on the side and not worry about making a living - A privilege that many artists don’t have.

It was my identity. It was who I was. And entering my home, you could see that identity in a physical, tangible form. My home was laden with my art. Ocean paintings everywhere. Four big watercolor paintings adorning the central wall of my living room. And a studio full of work-in-progress canvases on multiple easels, paint on the floor, messy desk, shelves full of art supplies and all. I remember my niece once telling me me - “Your baby will be so lucky because it will have access to your studio and supplies all the time!”

And that’s who I was. An artist. Who, by the way, also worked a full time job.

I always thought that is how my child would see me too. But is it really going to be that? We moved when she was born. Into a house that I don’t want to fill with my own art, because I want this to feel more grown up. More clean and beautiful. Where is the evidence that an artist lives in this house? My desk is clean and white, with no specs of paint. I have a beautiful home office setup that reeks of someone who likes their job and is concerned about good ergonomics. Am I guilty for enjoying my job? Am I guilty for not wanting to constantly wait for the day to end so that I could make art? Am I guilty of not day dreaming of a life where I’m just an artist? Why doesn’t packaging art and sending it off spark as much joy as it used to? Why does the prospect of opening a new canvas not invoke that excitement in the pit of my stomach anymore? Why do I not want to share my creativity with the world anymore? Why don’t I want to plan out my “second” job - of being an artist? Writing blog posts, designing courses, making sales posts, creating beautiful newsletters... Why do I just want to be silent?

I know why. I have priorities. Number 1 being my beautiful baby. The baby who I was so desperate to know me as an artist before she was born, now suddenly I don’t care, and rightfully so. I recently watched a video by Kirsty Patridge, an artist and educator on YouTube. She was immensely particular and organised about her work, about the lovely art courses she created, about the weekly tutorials she used to post, and her very successful Patreon. She posted a video called, “I don’t like drawing anymore”. She had two babies in two years, and hasn’t made art for over 6 months. Because, life comes in the way! Even with a very efficient nanny, I know how little mind space I have to really plan my art aspirations.

The second reason is that I do enjoy my job more than I used to. I don’t feel the need to fantasise about a different life anymore. Maybe I have designed the life that I wanted, at least for now. There is no hunger for me to keep pursuing something else.

And the third reason is, that it just doesn’t spark as much joy anymore. Not the drawing, not the painting, not the shopping for art supplies, not posting on social media, not even fulfilling an order if someone buys my art. Each one of these used to evoke excitement, which has somehow fizzled out. Probably because there are many other things in my life also giving me joy. The constant need to film whatever I paint, the pressure of being consistent on social media - all of it is not fun.

I am now standing at a crossroad where I can choose one of two paths.

1. Keep painting and posting in a scheduled manner like I used to, even if it is not enjoyable anymore

2. Take a break from art altogether, and either wait for my brain to want it back so much that it pulls me in, or risk losing the drive forever.

I think even though it will break my stupid heart to lose my desire to make art forever, I have to go with #2. I will make art, probably post it too for whoever wants to see it. But I’ll let go of this identity for a while to which I’m currently struggling with my life to hold on to. I still want the new people I meet to see me as an artist, but I have to make peace with the fact that it’s not happening, and I can’t force it.

I think I’ll keep writing, but my art supplies can enjoy a nice breather, at least for a few weeks or months (I hope not years!)

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