Art, needs and identity

When I started this blog, I imagined it would be about sharing my art and progress with other people and I’ve really been enjoying that. But I didn’t think it would lead to as much introspection as it seems to have so far. Oh, here comes a little more… *life story alert*

One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is why it has taken me so long to get a point where I’m taking myself seriously as an artist. And by that I don’t mean that I see myself as the next Great Master or anything like that. I mean, I’ve loved drawing since I was little, and I pursued it throughout school… and then I dropped it completely 10 years ago because it didn’t fit with the plan I had to try and develop a career and earn a living. I felt a lot of pressure to make something work and art was too much of a risk. I don’t think this is unusual for artists. I know a lot of people feel discouraged and have to compromise on their dreams or give up on them entirely. Artists and their work are still not always given the value they deserve.

On reflection, I never entirely let art go as I’ve had different ideas about trying to incorporate it into my ‘day job’ or sell paintings for years. I could just never bring myself to do it because it was always about someone else rather than me creating art because I loved it.

Also, at that point in time, art seemed like a luxury and I denied myself partly because it made it easier to cope: when you’re in a very dark place, happy moments can feel too painful so you block it all out. In the last couple of years, some of my bigger worries have been sorted out and I’ve started to feel more like I’m standing on solid ground rather than waiting to have the rug pulled from under me. It’s taken a long time to recover; I feel like I’ve been climbing out of a black pit. The lights are coming back on.


Maslow's hierarchy
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (above) suggests that we need to have our basic needs met, like food and shelter, before we can think about higher level needs like loving relationships, fulfilment and self-actualising (reaching your full potential). Obviously this doesn’t always apply, as it is a very Westernised view of needs. But I think for me in this situation, it did. And yet now I’m here, and I know I’m not going to lose my home and I’ve got a fairly steady income, and I’m rediscovering this love of art, it doesn’t feel like a luxury at all – it feels like an absolute necessity.
Maslow's hierarchy1

I’ve realised how important art is to me, how much peace and fulfilment it brings me: nothing else comes even close. And I’m starting to have some confidence in my abilities, such as they are; I’m valuing myself for what I have to offer, and what I can create.

It’s making me happy! 🙂

It’s a significant part of my self and identity that I’ve ignored for such a long time. I feel like I’m coming back to life. And I hope I haven’t jinxed it by posting about it!