When I tell people that I paint, they inevitably respond with, “Oh, are you an artist?” Am I an artist? The temptation is to not claim that identity until I’ve reached some future level of Monet-esque expertise. My first responses to that question were along the lines of: “No, no, I’m just learning to paint in my spare time,” or “Hah, no, not really. I just like to paint.” Now I just say “Yes” and let it hang. In the silence that follows that proclamation I find many internal voices vying for supremacy: “Who are you kidding?” “You’re an imposter!”… and “Yes, you are an artist.” That last voice started out very weak, but it has been gaining strength.
Quick background to show how not-an-artist I’ve been. I graduated college with civil engineering and German degrees and then served 6 years in the Navy as a civil engineer. When I left the Navy (in 2000), I got a great job at a consulting firm and re-made myself into an education consultant, eventually earning a masters degree in education. But as a consultant and eventually manager in the world of corporate America, I let myself be consumed by the management/consulting trifecta: travel, email, and meetings. I slowly grew to realize that I had let large parts of myself go dormant. I could handle crises at work, make a sale, manage people, and maximize my frequent flyer miles and hotel points, but I had ignored my internal world. As a consequence, my relationships, my sense of community, and my work suffered.
I took up watercolor painting in the fall of 2010 as one part of a strategy to re-birth my spirit and balance out the darker side of the consulting lifestyle. It’s working. Giving voice to my right brain brings balance to the strong left-brain demands of the business world, and I hope even enhances what I can bring to clients and colleagues.
And that’s why I started this blog. I know I’m not the only person out there who is embarking on this journey of living into being an artist amidst competing demands. I’d like to share my experiences, and in so doing, validate what others might be going through and also hear from those who are on a similar path.
I’d love to hear about your journey!
- Interested in coaching? www.davidronka.com
- Interested in designing and facilitating workshops? www.learningexperiential.com