Be the Model for Your Art

How often does a writer use her own life experiences for a story? How often did famous artists paint portraits of themselves? There is something about creative expression that also encourages self reflection, or going within.

I have become aware, recently, of how hard it is for me to be quiet around other people. I am curious. I also like to share my recent events. As an artist, I can be quit happy as an introvert. But in public, I like to observe, as well as engage as much as possible. I like asking people about themselves, about any creative skills they may have, where their name came from, or where they got that unique sweater they’re wearing.

It takes practice to become a master of any skill. Perhaps my greatest skill is chatting, not art. In any case, I offered to be the model for a portrait class I go to once a week, schedule permitting. Since it was so hard for me to be quiet and still the last time, this time I brought my dulcimer to keep myself focused. The class was very kind about my mediocre performance. They enjoyed seeing or learning about the mountain dulcimer. As you can see in one drawing in particular, the dulcimer was the main attraction.

One member of the class is a tall, very lean, bearded cowboy named Merritt. He rarely speaks in the class. Being the insecure type, I assumed I annoyed him. (Isn’t it always about me???) However, the dulcimer brought out a new layer of information from this man. His son plays the “git-tar” and teaches in Arizona. The son also offers on-line classes. Merritt mentioned he has an early version of the mountain dulcimer. It is a rectangular shaped instrument he didn’t know much about. I suggested he send a picture in to the Dulcimer Player’s Magazine. They could help him find the builder or learn of it’s history.

In spite of my blundering through so many songs on my dulcimers, due to nerves and lack of practice, Merritt gifted me with a second work of art besides a copy of the portrait he made of me. This second picture was something he had worked on the day before: a Buddha centered in a circular opening of a brick wall.

“How perfect is this,” I thought. Just when I have been feeling scattered and too chatty in some cases, along comes this beautiful image to remind me of what is important. I will post this beautiful painting in my studio to help me center my energies. As I look within, I will focus on who I want to be as an artist and a person, rather than what I produce; although the two are entwined. I am my creative process. I am the product my creative process conjures up. We are one. I am the model AND the art in progress.

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