Critic and Creator
Ever since I was young I have gravitated to art. Like a fish to a shiny colorful hook, it compelled me to explore and engage in a way I wasn't able to in other activities. I distinctly remember sitting at my desk at home grabbing a large crayola crayon, that barely fit in my hand, and calling forth my thoughts into the world, into existence. It was magical. The experience enchanted me. I would choose colors my brothers and sisters had picked over and allow them their moment. Giving the strange purple-grey a new meaning and the awkward yellow-green a new life. They were hidden magic, just waiting to be a part of my masterpiece.
But, as with all things, I grew and along with me expectations grew. I could no longer live in the magical world of art, I had to put it away and focus on school, on friends and social circles, on growing up. I felt like Wendy from Peter Pan, my childhood taken as soon as I returned from Neverland, never to return.
The expectations grew, my art could no longer be what it once was and it was judged critically by teachers and peers. My expression became defined by how others would view it, and my art process changed from what was organic and rich, to what would be the most celebrated or likely to receive a passing grade. After fifth grade, art lost it's magic. I still created, but it was no longer the place I had once known. I was stuck in a box of expectations, judgements and criticisms. And me, being the artist, made myself my worst critic.
Myself as the critic, instead of the raw creator, became my worst enemy. But, in high school and early college even my own criticism could not match the judgements of my art teachers. I reveled in their knowledge and experience. But when they tore apart my art with their words, it broke me. It wasn't constructive criticism, it was attacking me, the artist. It wasn't right. Yet, these teachers believed my work had nothing new or good to offer. It was hard to accept. Hard to believe.
The critic in me only grew. The critic thrives off negative energy, anxious thoughts, and destructible criticism. The creator shrank. It hid in a cave in myself.
Now, I have a Minor in Art. I mastered a small art feat. I adventured into new art forms, mediums and genres. I soaked in the world of art. Trying to find my voice, my expression and myself, the creator, that I had lost. And I slowly recovered her. She was bent, but not broken.
The creator in me thrives in the environments where I can freely evolve, think and express. Where art terms aren't used in the process, where thoughts can run on a never-ending train track. Where I can be who I am freely, with no one knocking me down, not even myself.
I long for the early days of creating. Of time and space being irrelevant. A time where everything I made was celebrated. A time when crayons and colors were the only tools I needed. I long to be young and to know nothing of the art world and to not know the harsh world of art that exists only a couple years away from childhood.
Today, my art has a new meaning. I have grown. My art has evolved. Realism is a part of me but surrealism has finally found a voice. The whimsical in me, finds the extraordinary out of the ordinary. And the creator in me has grown. It no longer thrives on crayola, but brushes, paint, clay, bodies, light, values. It knows the terms, it knows how to see the world in art. But it also knows how to see it as just the creator, a world of colors and shadows, and thats okay.