What Makes an Artist Real?

as love thinks no evil, so envy speaks no good, ncwren
On a art forum that I am a member of one of the artists mentioned that there were a few local artists in her area that did not consider her to be a real artist because she has not attended an art college.
The topic interests me because I have no art degree for my wall and I am not self taught. I scoured the web trying out art lessons and until I found a home. To date I have over  300 hours of lessons I have completed. This does not include time spent asking questions and doing research on the internet. So I looked at how many credits does it take for a 4 year degree. The norm looks to be around 160 credits total. 160 credits x 3 hrs of time in class = 480 hours for a 4 year degree. I think that is a fair comparison given that hours studied or in a lab would vary greatly from student to student.
I am a college dropout. After a miserable year spent in business courses I quietly joined the Army and told my parents after the fact. When I finished my contract I was a single mother in desperate need of a good paying job. I found an Aircraft maintenance school in a town nearby where I lived.
The FAA mandates 1800 hours of instruction before you are allowed to take the written and verbal tests. Every second counts and you are required to make up any missed time. The school I chose to attend was accelerated, meaning the normal two years spent was condensed into one year. I did my time and passed my tests. I have my license-which is good until the day I die or the FAA revokes it. I spent a year working in this profession. That has been over 20 years ago.
Even though technically I can call myself and A&P mechanic I don’t see myself as one. I am not current with my skills or the latest technology used. There are thousands of aircraft mechanics working today without that license. They work under the repair license of the facility they work for. They have life experience that really does count.
I don’t begrudge them their jobs simply because they lack a certificate hanging on the wall. So why in the world is there a different standard for being an artist? Who made that rule up?
I love these definitions from Dictionary.com:
artist: a person who practices one of the fine arts, especially a painter or sculptor.
practices: repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency:
“Practice makes perfect.”
Sometimes I think we all need to step out of our fishbowls and take a look around us-there is a big beautiful ocean out there ready to be explored.
As love thinks no evil, so envy speaks no good.
~English proverb
Are you a real artist?


Artistic Rituals

ncwren, artistic rituals
I prefer to work in the mornings after everyone has shuffled off into their respective areas.  I’ve been making a habit of ignoring my phone and social media until I have done some creative work.In the winter I prefer my pajamas, in the summer I trade those in for my swimsuit. Just in case I make sure my teeth are brushed, deodorant is applied and hair is brushed with some makeup on.  If the need arises I can throw some jeans on and be out the door at a moment’s notice.
With coffee in hand I head upstairs where my space is. I work for 3-4 hours. I’ll take a break at that point and assess where I am mentally and physically.
ncwren, artistic rituals

In the summer the outside pulls us outside and my husband and I go swimming and catch some sun rays. Floating on my back watching the Kestrels hunt their prey motivates me to get back to work.
Other times of the year I try to balance gardening with chores around my home. My husband and I have lunch together if he is not in a meeting. If I know I can get another 4 hours in without too much of interruption I choose creative work over others.
ncwren, artistic rituals
When I am being 'good' I tidy up everyday. When I am 'bad' I have to schedule time to get things back into a normal state. I prefer to have all of my tools that I am currently using within reach , but not so messy that it takes more than 15 minutes to put stuff away.
I can work either standing up or sitting down when painting. Pencil work and ink have me mostly sitting down. I’ve been trying to be more mindful of standing more. I feel better overall when I stand and work.
If my work is somewhat mindless and repetitive I listen to The Black Keys or an audio book. If I need to pay close attention I prefer the quiet or Yo-Yo Ma on the cello.
I’m looking forward to this summer when I plan on breaking out of my rituals. My comfort zone needs to be expanded from my reliable and safe studio to the outdoors and some plein air painting.
What are your rituals for getting your work done?

Artists are…

Tui, bird, pastel, ncwren
Tui Bird Lesson from The Paint Basket Online Classes

Hyper Focused
Learning and exploring life one painting at a time is not just my Twitter ‘handle’ it is my daily truth. As an artist who started their career later in life I am continually amazed at how much I have missed out on just living my life and not being an observer of it.
I feel blessed and excited at the start of each piece at what knowledge I will glean from the medium and subject at hand.
It’s the removing of distractions and finding that hyper focused brain action of where I can spend hours in the shapes of objects and light and be genuinely surprised that time sped by me in the pursuit of getting it right.
Sleeping Monkey lesson
Sleeping Monkey Lesson from The Paint Basket Online Classes

Decision Makers
I never knew in the beginning how many decisions are constantly being made with artwork. I better understand those artists who stick with the same materials day in and day out. Those alone can paralyze the process of creating. Then there is the big one-what to paint? The reason we have landscape, portrait, wildlife, and abstract artists. The decisions to be made composition wise and we still haven’t started painting yet. 
old doorway lesson 30
Old Doorway Lesson from The Paint Basket Online Classes

Resilient
Merriam Webster defines resilient as:
able to return to an original shape after being pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.
…sounds about right. The bit about “an original shape” as opposed to straight up original has me smiling. It’s a good thing. It’s what keeps me coming back day after day. It’s exhilarating and nerve wracking to make that final decision and say it is finished.