Thursday, June 3

the value of what we do

We're so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget that the inner value, 
the rapture that is associated with being alive, 
is what it's all about.
Joseph Campbell

i seem to be bumping into several blogs talking about the value of a creative life. about the anxiety, embarassment, even out right fear, of owning labels such as writer, artist, photographer..... surely someone will catch me as a fraud...

it seems safer to say, i like to write, i write a few poems, i take photographs, i paint.....

because somehow we've equated these labels as Jobs, and jobs are about producing something where other people benefit.
those words aren't job titles, they're labels for something a person does.

we believe that we need to be legitimised by a sale perhaps, or will a review in a respected magazine do?
we look for external validation. as women, we do that so much already.

we've lost respect for the softness of process. and in losing that, i believe that we've lost respect for the feminine. giving it up for the, supposedly, superiority of masculine achievement. hard results.

i've been shocked when anyone has referred to me as an artist. the first time it happened it came from a reader at my other blog. from someone who didn't know any better - having no idea that this was all new for me, that i was re-learning creativity, the right to creativity. they said it with surety, a statement that suggested obviously you're an artist.

what a shock to be shown a mirror so early in the morning!

and what value does creativity have anyway? how can i write when the partner works to pay the bills?

we forget it's all a choice, for everyone.

i'm still wobbly in my artistic shoes. it feels fragile. impossibly high stilettos.
but i say it now... because almost every day i paint or make art in some way..... i dream of colours and forms and brush marks.... i daydream of composition and subjects.

i do art... i think art... therefore i am an artist.

and... there is value in being the most raw me.

see Mon, you said it, and you didn't fall.

p.s, amy is doing a lovely giveaway at cypress sun.


  1. beautiful.

    I've been writing all my life, made money from writing when I was younger, consider writing something I have to do in order to keep my heart still beating - but I didn't feel comfortable calling myself A Writer until I sold two books.

    But I completely agree with all you have written here - and when my head talks to me differently, and uses words like skill and training, the Universe sends me a message to make me question all that I think about what is real and proper in creativity by making me a newbie Photographer.

    I consider you an Artist. There's never been any question of that for me. It's obvious. You aren't just an artist because you do art, but because ... um ... hard to explain. Your art has soul. It comes from your soul. Rather than just being something your hand does. That to me is what makes real art.

  2. wow, you did it again- you cut through the bull and expressed it so eloquently. the labels and the hard results don't mean anything if it causes you anxiety. what matters is that you do what you feel, letting out all that bubbles up within. thanks!

  3. Wow, this is profound. But most of what you write is. I also consider you an artist and a writer (are those two things mutually exclusive?) and am so glad you are seeing yourself that way now. It's funny how we refuse to label ourselves in such ways unless we have some "proof". One day hubby and I were speaking to someone and I can't quite remember the context but I referred to him as an "amateur photographer". Later he expressed to me how hurt he was by my statement. Not only does he chronicle our journeys through life so eloquently through his lens but he did do this in a professional capacity for some time as well. But because he wasn't employed or currently making money like this, I didn't think to call him what he was/what he is: a photographer. I don't believe taking a photo makes you a photographer but with him, he does so much more than this and if you've ever seen his photographs, he is just that: a photographer. I still feel horrible about my ignorance on that day. Thank you for this post!

  4. Boy, this touched a deep nerve, because for YEARS i refused to call myse an artist...for the reason you describe...i wasn't producing something that matched someone else's idea of what an artist aesthetic is. And we hear all those stories about art critics being shown children's art and being sure it is the work of a genius, etc.
    It is SO TRUE that art is about process. We live in a day and time when art and living have been stripped from each other, and now art is equated with some highbrow ideas of what art is, and those ideas change on a whim.
    I think you would love Life, Paint Passion. Have you heard of this book? I am wanting terribly to explore this way of painting (primal, stripped of pretense, drawing on dreamlife and archetypes)but have not taken the first fearless steps.

  5. Yay, you did it, you said it! Hey, when you are passionate about something, you need to own it, and when you own it, it becomes an integrated part of who you are. I feel like I can say "I am a photographer" because that's my intended profession, even though I make almost no money from it, but several months ago, I also realized that I am a writer, and it's okay for me to own that title, too, even though it isn't my profession. Even if I never make a dime, I can still claim what I am.

  6. Well, okay, I've known all my life that I am a writer, I just only gave myself permission to own it relatively recently. I am an artist, too. I just don't have a specific medium (except photography) that I use all the time. I consider many of my crafts to be works of art, and even non-visual creations like poetry.

  7. "almost every day i paint or make art in some way..... i dream of colours and forms and brush marks.... i daydream of composition and subjects.

    i do art... i think art... therefore i am an artist."

    I'm so loving the above words--so right on.

    Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving your lovely words--they made my day a little brighter.

    Sending love.

  8. sarah - "something I have to do in order to keep my heart still beating - but I didn't feel comfortable calling myself A Writer until I sold two books."
    it's just so amazing how hard we are on ourselves. i was thinking how back in uni doing photography, i never called myself a photographer - because that would be for after my studies. and i was earning the highest marks and taking pics every day. sheesh

    "Your art has soul"
    thank you lovely one. means a lot to me.

    mary - yes! letting it out is fundamental. in a way, we could look at trying for results as just adding more stuff in! ideas of perfection, pressure, etc.

    jenn - yikes, i can feel his pain. you can imagine how much more difficult it is for those of us who haven't done anything professionally - other people are looking for proof as well.

    angela - i just took a look at the book. i think it sounds really helpful for anyone stuck in not being free with art. what helped me, and still does, is art journaling (i do that over at bohemian shadows). it was a journey to allow myself to be free, but once i started it began the process of creative inspiration. it unblocks me for sure.

    Lisa C - "Even if I never make a dime, I can still claim what I am."
    right on!!

    hi julia, nice to see you. :)

  9. Love this post Mon! I'm still working on owning these labels myself even though I live and breathe art in various forms, so this was very timely. Thank you!

  10. oh well said, i forget this far too often, just found your blog and am enjoying browisng through it :)


  11. Mon, this is a lovely post. You write with such fervor and wisdom. I hesitate to call myself a writer, though I have been writing for almost ten years now. I was paid once upon a time for my newspaper writing, but that was a LONG time ago, and to me that wasn't so much art as it was work, which was why I ventured outwards into different territory.

    You're right about the hesitation to call oneself an artist. I haven't published any of my stories, but then again, I've only attempted to get ONE published. I let fear hold me back (which has to do with not having the external validation, as you say). This is something I might blog about. One resolution for my 30th birthday is to try to publish my stories, even if I'm not successful. I'll know that I tried. Even though I know this isn't a measure of success, I do love communicating art -- art is where we find most of our inspiration and soul and beauty and cosmic sense of the universe.

    Teeter-tottering on heels is part of what makes art such a beautiful process. Without my own teeter-tottering, I'd probably be bored and too vain. I was watching Luna pulling herself up onto furniture the other day, and every now and then she'd fall on her butt, then get back up again, and I thought, this is IT, this is what life is all about.

    Thank you for reminding us that we need to validate ourselves as artists, as creators of beautiful things, even if we don't have the external validation. Thank you for your truth and soulful thoughts.

    I'm up for it. I'm up to owning up who I am. What I am. What I want from life.

  12. shaktimama - just think of all the now famous people who had hundreds of rejection slips before someone accepted their work. go for it!

  13. I think it's the rejection and judgement part that trips me. Yet, you are so right, it's the process. We so easily forget the process. Seldom (if ever) are people wonderful at things from the beginning. I have never viewed success as a masculine/feminine process. I love that. Your words will stick with me.

  14. Thanks Mon. I'm finally finding a little time to catch up on a few blogs...and saw your mention of my giveaway. I hope everyone

    I think art is really about you touch life.

    And I have to say this - I don't believe it for one minute that you just gave yourself permission to create one day...and all those amazing journal pages came out! You have always been an artist.

    It's almost as if we all need someone to grant us permission to call ourselves artists when we don't really hesitate much with other titles.

  15. sheri - yes, instant geniuses are impossibly rare.

    thanks amy :)


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