Thursday, May 21, 2009

Titles ARE Important

This is one of those blog posts I thought of while jogging... and I may decide it wasn't a good idea later. It of course has to do with running and art. 

For a few years now I've been jogging, but I never thought of myself as a runner. A runner is one of those people who run marathons and break records. Recently however, I've been pushing myself to get stronger with running by setting myself some goals to meet instead of just the 40 minute jog I used to do nearly every morning. Its been working, each week I'm stronger and can get further or faster. Something happened along the way too though - somewhere along the way I started thinking of myself as a runner. 

A runner?

I was always the one that would sit and watch others run... and would argue with the gym teacher in high school that not everyone is built to run a mile. I'm a runner?

I'm a runner because I look forward to running and I look forward to getting better at running. I'm a runner because if I skip a run I miss it. I'm a runner because when I see someone jogging outside while I'm driving in my car I wish I were them. I feel like a runner. 

The first time you use your new title (runner) (artist) it feels funny but it also feels liberating. I remember once when  someone asked me what I "was" and I blurted out "ARTIST" without thinking about it and how liberating it felt. I had always said "stay at home mom" or whatever before... but something in me at that time thought of herself as an "artist" instead. 

I wasn't selling much art back then, but that doesn't matter. Being able to call yourself an "artist" isn't about whether or not you can pay the mortgage from it. Its about who you are. Being an artist is about wanting to work hard at getting better and better. Its about missing drawing or painting when you can't do it. Its about getting an idea for a painting while eating a hot dog. Its about feeling like you are an ARTIST. 

Once you give yourself your new title it doesn't mean you can slack though - it means you have to work even harder to keep that title. 

I'm a Wife, Mom, Artist, Runner and a lousy cook - how about you? 

This is what I'm working on now... its almost finished. 

Another 8 x 10" but on green pastelbord


Maggie Stiefvater said...

Brilliant post, Nicole! I'm a huge, huge fan of words being powerful and spoken goals being incredibly motivating on a subconscious level. So every time you tell someone you're an artist, you're making it truer.

So yay! great post.

Nicole Caulfield said...

Thanks Maggie! That's true - and every time you tell someone you are an artist the more you believe it yourself. :-)

vivien said...

I agree - at first you are self conscious about the title and it doesn't fit and then you work and grow into it and it feels right :>)

the speeds you've been achieving you are definitely a runner as well as an artist!

from a non-runner, artist and merely adequate cook :>)

Caroline Roberts said...

My mouth is watering looking at that red apple. No need to be able to cook to enjoy that!

You're right about the titles and I think it becomes easier to work at being an artist once we use that title with other people. Probably because we become publicly accountable - people ask about the painting or the exhibition and it's encouraging.

I'm still not sure if I'm a Runner though, even after two marathons. To my mind runners run much faster than I do and look like runners. But I do get that same feeling when I see someone out running and my muscles remember how good a run can feel. Maybe I can be a runner too?

Caroline. Wife, Mom, Artist, Reader, maybe Runner.

Carolina said...

Very touching words, Nicole, thank you for sharing them with us. I don't think of myself as an artist, although I "see" potential painting subjects everywhere, and many other of the things you've mentioned. I still have a lot to 'run' before I get there. But your words have lightened my way.

Anonymous said...

Funny the places your mind goes when you're running isn't it? For me it's when I'm in the woods walking. And what a great post. So true, sometimes we feel like we can't say out loud what we feel we are because we're not selling art, been published, making a living at it or whatever. But that's so silly. You're so right, we are what we believe we are, and the more we say it the more we believe it. So, I'm a Dog trainer, Hiker, Author, Artist, and extremely lazy cook! LOL :D Weird how some of those things are harder to say than others.

Marion said...

You have got me thinking....when people ask me what I am I usually say "retired" or "pensioner" but that does not begin to descibe what I I ever had time to walk full time I shall never know. I shall have to give this some thought and come up with someting.

Marion said...

Re my comment. I meant work full time...not walk...although I do a lot of that now as well

Anonymous said...

Hi Nicole, that rings very true with me too - similar feelings about the title. But today I must admit I am sometimes reluctant to call myself "artist" if someone asks - especially here in Germany - the title "artist" is nothing specifically to be proud of. If you don't belong to the real big ones the title "artist" is something not really worshipped. Too many people call themselves artists and you are not respected if you are really one - you can say this from the expressions on their faces and the remark - "ach so" which means in English "ah well" or something like that.
It is really sad but some situtations just demand different answers.
Greetings, Petra

Kathy said...

great post, Nicole! A sure sign of who you are is being able to proclaim it confidently without thinking about it, as well as it being on your mind while performing other tasks! I think that's when I come up with my best creations! I don't make a dime (yet) at my art but wouldn't call myself anything but artist. I need to have it and do it. It makes me whole.
Artist, Wife, Mom, pretty decent cook

Rhonda Bartoe Tucker said...

Great post, Nicole! Keep running and thinking - the two go hand in hand. And it is scary and empowering when you first acknowledge who you truly are. Good for you.

From another artist, runner, and stay at home mom.

Super Tri Grrrl said...

I know exactly what you mean, both with the artist title and the runner title. I run. I love running. I paint and draw. I love creating. While I've owned being a runner, I am still working on the artist title.

Nicole Caulfield said...

Caroline - you've run 2 marathons and are not a runner! :-O

"Weird how some of those things are harder to say than others"

It is isn't it! But its true!

hehe too bad noone pays for someone to walk full-time!:-)

Petra - wow that's really interesting. Here I think the title is very glorified.

"A sure sign of who you are is being able to proclaim it confidently without thinking about it"


"While I've owned being a runner, I am still working on the artist title."

& I've owned being called an artist but am working on being that confidant with the runner title! :-)

Reflections From Life Art Blog said...

Nice post Nicole! Love the painting, and your description of yourself.

I see potential paintings as I'm out and about all the time. Just can't seem to get art out of my mind, even for a minute. Gets frustrating for the family sometimes though. Didn't know you ran. Sounds like you're doing a terrific job if you're running for 45 minutes! I'd love to be able to do that, but I'm NOT a runner. Sprinter yes, runner no! :D

Nancy - Mom, wife, Artist, speed walker

bluelilac said...

What a great post topic. It is comforting to know there are artists out there who go through these same thoughts.
I have two daughters-in-law who I consider to be 'artists' in the way they conduct their lives in creative ways managing children and work and families. One of them is musical and I suspect she is a painter who has not yet found her talent. But as an elementary school teacher she is wonderful with young children.
The other makes pottery when she finds time, and her garden is absolutely a joy.
I am an artist and a grandmother and I walk fast all over the place. If I don't work on some kind of art or writing project I get really tired. If I don't see my grandchildren enough I miss them.
If I don't go to exercise or walk at least six blocks in a day I feel fat and awful.
I guess we need love and various passions to keep the life force flowing through us.
I wish I could run but I can't do high impact aerobics anymore because of my joints and bones.
So I go to curves as much as I can make myself, and when I am out, I walk fast and I enjoy the people and gardens and scenery and flowers I meet along the way.
I am retired but I hope to keep on producing and learning and growing in understanding and knowledge and skills all the way.
Being an unknown visual artist is not exactly a respected title here on the West coast of Canada. I think Americans appreciate their artists more.
Writers and musicians are more likely to be highly respected here.
I may be wrong. But this is how it seems to me.

bluelilac said...

And I need to add that when I was working as an illustrator I was respected by clients who seemed to be overjoyed at times when I gave them what they wanted to boost whatever it was they were educational for kids and students, logos and designs for 'image', etc.
I was always embarassed to be introduced as an 'artist' all the time because I always figured commercial work is not fine art.
Yet I guess illustration is every bit an art as any other kind.
And I am a fan of many Children's Book Illustrators.
That is a title I'd like to aim for again these days.

Angela Finney said...

Thank you for the very thought provoking, well written post (you haven't added writer yet -- but maybe you should). From an artist and diligent cook.