Be Your Own Hero

English: Studies of Embryos by Leonardo da Vin...

If you think of it, it’s pretty amazing; of the billions of people born you are one. The chances of you existing at all are about one in 400 trillion.

If you live in North America or Europe you’re only one of 16% of the population living on our planet. Pretty amazing, isn’t it.

What this means is that because you were born and because of your unique experiences growing up, you have an amazing story to tell.

“The mental life of children is intimately bound up with their sensory experience. To the young mind, things are what they look like, sound like, move like, or smell like.”     ~ Rudolf Arnheim

As a young child you were cute as a button, curious, exploring, absorbing, the world as if you were the first to discover it. You didn’t take anything for granted. You were “open” and looking for ways to function and understand. You were your own superhero, full of potential and fire. You didn’t place limits on yourself, not as an older child would.

I’m not sure why we place limits on ourselves as we get older. It could be our developing brains that take us away from the “open” stage in our lives. Research suggests that after the age of 7 our brains are capable of abstract reasoning. This is when we start to see relationships between our outside world and what we think.

Is it a coincidence then that many us start to place artistic limits on ourselves and develop an attitude of comparing and judging in the early elementary years?

How many times have you heard someone say, I can’t draw, or I have no talent, or I’m not good enough, or I’m not smart enough? I have; many times. Not only did I hear children say this when I was demonstrating and teaching art classes, but as a young child, I was always comparing myself to a friend. I thought she was a much better drawer than I and it was discouraging at times.

With an attitude like that, I certainly didn’t set myself up for being a hero in my own life.

artist in turkey

artist in turkey (Photo credit: Maria & Michal P.)

Another perception I had to get over was that fine art wasn’t a legitimate occupation. I had no immediate influences that showed me otherwise. Woman in my family were creative in a domestic way. They sewed and designed garments for themselves and their family. The only entrepreneur I was exposed to was my grandfather. He worked for himself as a farmer. My mother could have easily been an entrepreneur, but as a widow with four children at the age of 30, her career developed in the secure atmosphere of government work.

Working as an independent professional was something not many young women were encouraged to do during the 60’s and 70’s. I still remember “home economics” as an elective in high school. Another sobering fact, during the 70’s if a woman needed a loan she needed a male co-signer, whether she had a good job or not. It was a different world then. Now, we have so many choices. Especially if we live in the Western World.

As for fine arts, I didn’t see it as a possible way to make a living. I was exposed to music and television growing up. My mom always played music. Her mother’s family was very musical; everyone was able to play at least one instrument. Music was one of the few creative, cultural outlets that people of my grandmother’s and mother’s generation had.

Radio became part of the public domain in 1928, I would imagine that stories and music were a huge part of people’s lives back then. I wonder how many kids grew up wanting to become radio personalities or musicians during those years.

Music and movies are still a big part of my life, but why I didn’t become a musician or take on a position in the movie industry, I can’t say. What I do know, is that it was my exposure to the visual arts through public school which steered me towards the fine arts. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to ignite a spark.

The surroundings we grow up in provide a unique personal perspective. That perspective can also limit us to some degree. When I finally decided to pursue an education in the arts, my perception of the arts was limited by my exposure. My idea of an artist was Leonardo da Vinci, Van Gogh and Picasso.

My positive experiences with fine arts in my elementary years steered me towards art, which encouraged me to explore methods of creative expression. My negative experiences in high school took me away from the arts and kept me from exploring the arts as a career choice.

It wasn’t until I was 25 when I decided to pursue a career and education in the fine arts.

Sometimes the answer is in front of you, you just need to get past your attitude first. Tweet this.

Attitude is a funny thing. It sneaks up on you and burrows in for the long haul – unless you challenge it. Maybe you think your current story is comfy-cozy, like a warm winter blanket which lulls you to sleep by the crackling fire. My advice – don’t fall asleep!

  • You are a unique mix of culture, and genetics.
  • You are a walking symphony of brain and spirit
  • You are an adult and the boss of your own life.
  • You live in a world full of potential and opportunities.

Commit to Your Cause

Creating the elements of your story is as simple as looking at your history and situation.

Everyone’s life situation is different, but one thing is certain, you are the only one that can give yourself permission to give your life meaning. Your life’s mission isn’t a present to be found as much as it’s a cause you’re willing to commit and fight for. That’s passion and fire.

Walls are there to show you what’s important enough that you’re willing to climb over the obstacle.

Once you’ve gotten over the beliefs and attitudes that have gotten in your way and don’t support you in your journey (including the people that hold you back) and you’ve given yourself permission to go ahead and believe in your own story, you need to give yourself the gift of commitment and practice.

Nothing gets done without an action plan. An action plan can be a commitment to sit down in your studio for one hour a day. Give yourself one and half hours if you can. You will need the time to work through any anxieties that surface. Anxieties keep us from our mission. They divert us into doing small tasks that have nothing to do with our mission.

Put that vacuum cleaner down! Stop organizing your studio! Don’t pick up the phone to call your friend!

Lock yourself in a space where you can be “open” to possibilities, as they present themselves to you. Don’t rule out thoughts that are illogical. In fact strive for the most ridiculous possibilities. Be your own art super hero.

  • Where will your studio be located?
  • Who will your clients be?
  • Who will be your motivators?
  • Who will you mentor?
  •  Are you willing to give up other activities to dedicate yourself to creating and promoting yourself?

there is a video of writer Ray Bradbury being interviewed. The interview took place in 1963 and besides the interesting trip back to a time Ray gives some very good advice to any artist that is interested in making a career in the arts.

If you liked this post and found it useful, please tweet and share. 

13 thoughts on “Be Your Own Hero

  1. An awesome inspiring post! Thank you!!

    • Thanks!
      By the way, I love Trader Joe’s signs. I go to the one in Bellingham and I’m always so impressed. Are you allowed to post your own designs? Share them with us if you can.

  2. art is something taken beyond a science. so i agree its a good idea to reduce distractions

    • I enjoy thinking about creative expression as much as I like creating. It’s a process of discovery on many levels for me.
      By the way, I checked out your oklahoma photos. Beautiful. Looks like a fabulous place to live.

  3. Excellent–all the way around! Very true about our anxieties diverting us, and that we really need to “commit to the cause”. Thanks , as always , for sharing your insightful thoughts.

    • An Arts ThinkTank: This is exactly what an Arts Council shloud be. I’m sure you’ve noticed how often the Fraser Institute is cited on various issues. Do we ever here from the BC Arts Council? A Vancouver City Arts Council could be a powerful voice, but only if it’s made up of fearless, intelligent, and energetic advocates for the arts in all economic and social sectors.

      • Good points, Paula. Funding and advocacy issues can be frustrating. People working for councils are very passionate about the arts but because not-for-profits are publicly funded, they are very careful about their programming and most often over loaded with responsibility and underfunded.

        I just listened to Lisa Congdon on the Goodlife Project Channel (you can find it on youtube). She talks about being an artist and the sources of income artists find for themselves. Check it out.

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