I am not a painter.

“I am not a painter”  she said, and then bent her head back to weeding the garden that we had been sweating over for the last 6 hours.  Gardening was hard work and I think Carol loved it and hated it at the same time.  She hated the back aches, the neck aches, the knee aches, and the chronic dehydration that you just can’t fight when you work long and hard under the western sun.  She loved it at 4:30 in the afternoon, after the heat of the day had broken and a cold beer was on the horizon.  Then, we could sit back and take in the beauty that we had created or maintained for yet another day.

I don’t know what had made her say that, whether she was hating or loving gardening at the moment, but one thing was clear: Carol was an exceptional painter.  She was a pastel artist, in fact, and had shown her work in galleries all across the country.

Here are a few of her masterpieces:

[nggallery id=43]

I have known other women who have said the same thing… some, blatantly while standing right in front of their work!  (…you know who you are.)

“I am not a painter” she said, as she stood beside one of her huge abstract acrylic paintings.  It was the gallery opening and I stood sipping wine from a little plastic cup, gazing up at her beautiful painting, wondering if she was delusional.

Here are a few of her musings (i couldn’t get any actual paintings):

[nggallery id=44]

I know.  I am acting shocked and mystified by something that is all too common.  I bet each one of you has an extremely talented friend out there who would rather eat dirt than label themselves as (ssshhhh!) an artist.  But I don’t get it.

Is it fear?  Are you afraid that someone will point their finger and yell, “Fake! You’re not an artist!”.  Well, they might… but who cares?  You don’t have to believe them. Who are they to say what you are or aren’t?  Shame on the nay-sayers of the world!  We all have to start somewhere and we will improve.

Whatever you do well, WHATEVER your talent is…art, organizing, music, food, listening, making others laugh…don’t hide it. We don’t have much time here and our gifts are little lights to share in a sometimes bleak world.  Let your light shine out to others, act as if you have already arrived  (at that place of being “good enough”) and revel in what makes you special.  Then, work hard to make it even better!


  1. Nicely put Bailey. I’m glad I stopped in.
    I agree that a lot of artsy folks humbly shy away from the official artist stigma because there are so many high profile and famous examples on the inferior measuring stick. We have too many choices! This goes for writers, musicians, buskers, potters etc. Art is very amorphous, personal and subjective. I’ve always enjoyed galleries for giving respect to art and engaging conversation, but I secretly find them judgmental. I guess there are some works that are just pure greatness, but I believe a larger percentage of artists prefer to stay low profile and shy away from the business end of things. I’m sure everyone has stories of rambling through a city and finding the most amazing street poet or singer/songwriter tucked away in a subterranean venue. Could it be they do not want to be discovered? One can grow organic food without being a certified organic farmer.
    Now, don’t say you are not a writer! Happy birthday.

  2. So happy you shared this Bailey. I have tears in my eyes. I am so happy you are letting your light shine. I am sharing this today on FB…

    Thank you…

  3. Dear Daughter….I just read your birthday message to all who were fortunate enough to
    check in and read your most uplifiting encouragement to all of us to share with joy
    all that makes us who we are. You are right, life is so short and we’re all artists in
    how we live it. My eyes were teary….thank you, child.

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