You’re An Artist. This Is Your Job.
Published on August 11, 2017
You probably can’t tell by looking at it, but I’ve been wearing the same painting apron for decades now.
It’s one of those chef aprons – sans pockets, knee length, and striped vertically.
This precious apron doesn’t just protect my jeans (or sometimes pajamas) from random paint splatters. It symbolizes something very important to me.
It represents my commitment.
When I put the apron on…it’s time to work.
Any painter that comes to one of my in-person workshops or retreats always receives an apron.
I like to think of them as a bit of a collector’s item.
But before I hand each artist their own apron in ceremonial fashion, I explain to them the significance of wearing the apron — and I express to them the power behind this simple ritual of putting on an apron to work.
As artists, nobody will take our work seriously if we don’t decide to take it seriously ourselves.
Before Dirty Footprints Studio, before I had a website, a following, or even a decent stream of revenue coming in from my creative practice itself — I put on this apron and got to work. Day after day. Year after year. Decade after decade.
I wore this apron when I used to paint in my run-down apartment in Cleveland, Ohio while going to art school and trying to make ends meet. I wore this apron when my dear friend Carol and I used to host creative circles in her back yard just for the love of it and didn’t make a dime. I wore this apron as I sat blogging my heart out in 2008 before I had to rush off and go to work. I wore this apron when I was pregnant with Phoenix and didn’t know it yet.
I’ve worn this apron in multiple states and three countries and I always joke that I should have little “Girl Scout Badges” sewn on representing all the places it’s seen.
Many artists that I meet in my workshops and retreats tell me that they dream of being a full time artist — BUT they’re still treating their practice as if it’s a hobby.
The ritual of putting on my apron symbolizes this commitment I have to my job as an artist. Not just something I like to do for the fun of it or when I find the time or when it’s only profitable. Being an artist is my job. I have to show up. Rain or shine.
And so when my beautiful artists arrive at my retreats and workshops I invite them to share in my ritual . I want them to get a real sensual experience in their bodies of what it feels like to slip that apron on and say: This is my job. This is what I’m here to do. I’m an artist and it’s time to work.
Also what I’ve found to be true is that this simple ritual of wearing a paint apron also impacts those around me. When my husband and son see the apron on, they know to leave me alone. They know Mommy is working.
As artists ritual is so, so important. We’re meaning makers. We can smell symbolism and we know the power it holds.
Rituals themselves help us create energetic muscle memory. The more we repeat a certain action or behavior with intention — the more it will feel strange and out of alignment when we don’t perform it or incorporate it into our day.
Our rituals create momentum.
So I encourage you to look at your own creative practice and routines, examine your intentions, and maybe put a little more heart behind your actions and behaviors.
Plus, having a ritual that represents your commitment will help you navigate those rough patches all of us artists face with greater ease. Such as those times when you’re feeling stuck, insecure, or simply unsure of what to create next.
The ritual itself might not dissolve your frustration or fear — but over time it will keep you grounded and remind you that you’re an artist — this is your job — and you got work to do. So hurrah for you! You showed up anyways!
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