How to Nurture Your Inner Artist

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by Deana Duffek

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How to Nurture Your Inner Artist

I am an artist, designer and educator, not necessarily in that order. For years I told people that I was a designer and worked in the development business, “oh and by the way, I am an artist.” It’s how I saw myself. I don’t exactly know when my viewpoint changed. I’m still an active developer, designer and I facilitate educational programs, but now I know that I’m an artist. I find that my thinking, my reading, my experimentation, my exploration are all directed toward not only better art and developmental design, but a means for me to evolve spiritually and use what I have learned to better serve other people. Although my eclectic art taste and process certainly lean more toward the celebrated material consumer culture and iconography, I would still consider myself to be more of an abstract expressionist. I am an action painter. I pull from a variety of styles, but it is the spontaneity that I believe characterizes much of my work.  Most of my paintings involve careful planning, especially due to the large scale, but once the process has started it’s the movement and the action of the painting that moves me. Regardless of what I paint or the end result, at the end of the day, for me, it is most certainly about the spiritual connection to the process of painting.

When asked: “what lights my fire as an artist” there are a number of ways I could answer that question. I see inspiration in every aspect of my life. I can walk down the street and see a face, a building, a leaf or a patch of sky that I would like to capture in a painting. So, in a sense it is this simple awareness of my surroundings and the way I look at everything through a creative lens that makes me an artist.  Being an artist is all I know. I was drawing and painting before the age of five. I can’t remember ever not being an artist. The bigger challenge to being an artist is staying an artist. I knew at a very early age “who” I was and I was comfortable with that knowledge. It was the surrounding people, teachers, and life happenings telling me that being an artist was NOT okay, NOT good enough or would be a struggle in some capacity. In hindsight, as a child, if I could’ve maintained  the where-with-all to stay true to my inner-voice, I wouldn’t have spent so many years trying to work at something else. Fortunately, I found a way to free my inner artist.

Finding your “spark” as an artist can be scary, but it can also be a freeing experience. Just as with any other aspect of our lives, it is up to us as individuals to live as the most authentic versions of our true selves. No one else can tell you who you should be or how you should live, only YOU know who you are. If you want to get serious about living your life as a practicing artist, here are a few recommendations. Number one, make the commitment. Commit to make time for yourself and your artwork. No more excuses and procrastinating. You nor your work need to be perfect, it is only an expression, don’t let fear of not being perfect get in your way.  Number two: practice. Whether sketching, painting or writing random ideas – make a time every day to jot down your thoughts and feed your creative energy. And lastly, stop saying no to yourself and start saying yes! As an artist we spend so much of our lives believing the false truths that other people have told us. As a blocked creative it is often easy to torture our selves with all of the NO’s – instead, I encourage you to embrace your creative spirit. Go dancing, take a lesson in something that interests you, change your routine, cook, meditate, write, listen to music…the list can go on and on – just make time to free your soul and foster your creative spirit.  Remember the words of Martha Graham: “there is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one you in all time, this expression is unique; and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” Don’t lose yourself in time, follow your dreams, connect with your spirit and be the artist you have dreamt of being.

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