by Amy Hautman Bates
Artist’s Block “Who is an artist when she is not making art?”
(This is a doodle, not a painting.)
In September my partner and I packed everything we owned to move from the Southeast to the Southwest. It was very cathartic to consider everything we had and decide if and why we wanted to continue hauling it around. Back then, I was only considering stuff like candles, coats and cookie cutters- the things in my house. Now we are settled in our new life and I am becoming aware of what else I am carrying- in my head.
One of the heaviest notions I carry is my ideas about myself as an Artist. A professional artist. A lifelong artist. An art teacher. An expert. Trying to be all that is exhausting! What if I give that up? Not the art but the “Artist” part.
Who am I if I am not that?
Since I have started studying Art Therapy Counseling at Southwestern College in Santa Fe I have been presented with hundreds of challenges in the realm of self discovery. I have set my artist self on a shelf for a month. I come home from school and look at my watercolor brush, paint palette and stack of blank paper and get nothing. No urge to paint! What is this? It is as if my artist spirit is sitting in idle while I explore these other ways of being.
It feels as if so many brain synapses are firing in so many directions, there is just no clear channel for my creative energy to flow. I feel the roiling, the incubating, the stir of something, but it is not ready to come- not yet. Perhaps when the intense processing of all the new stimuli settles down, wondrous visual things will emerge.
I am open to new thoughts, revelations and new directions. And so I want to set aside preconceived ideas, even such basic ones as who I am and what my life is about. I will always paint. But maybe I don’t want it to define me-anymore.