Thursday, March 10, 2016

Finding Your Niche

All the way back to some of my earliest writings in high school, I had this minor obsession with finding my niche, my specific talent or skill that I would be the master of. At first, I thought I would grow up to be this awesome screenwriter, bringing the likes of When Harry Met Sally to theaters on a regular basis. I was also in the Art Club, loved drawing portraits, but believed it when I was told that there was no future for me in art, so I fell away from it for a number of years. 

It's not that I didn't believe I had skill or talent, I just saw being a working artist the same as being a working actor. The business of being a working artist just never appealed to me, and still doesn't. I just like to make art because I enjoy it, and enjoy giving it to people I care about. I have sold some of my artwork, because when the opportunity has presented itself, well, I do still have bills to pay, and it has allowed me to invest in more art supplies. There have also been times when I did make a mild effort to market myself as a working artist. I have always loved portraits,  so decided that must be my elusive niche, I just have to work harder and focus on it. 

Well, that took a lot of the joy of making art out of the art making process.  I get distracted,  and want to try something else. Even now, as a senior in college at the age of 35, I have a (let's call it eclectic) portfolio that I know doesn't really flow well. I was forced to make it a portrait portfolio,  that went through several of the different mediums I have tried. I was told my portfolio should be more consistent,  and that I should beef it up with more works with fewer mediums.  I am still learning,  because I want to learn so many things. That's the consistency of my portfolio.  I was basically being told to force myself into a niche for the sake of my portfolio,  even though my portfolio is supposed to be a representation of myself as an artist. See what I am getting at here?

Well, having learned to let go and accept that I don't have or need to specialize in any one subject or medium, I have freed myself from that feeling of lacking that I carried for so long. I prefer not to try to pigeon hole myself any longer. I am in no way saying that someone who does have a specialty is in any way holding themselves back from trying new things. I just finally understand what kind of artist I am. Having embraced this, I am now thoroughly enjoying challenging myself with each new painting to try something completely new. A few weeks ago I painted an X-Wing, and most recently tried a mountain scene (these project reflections will be posted in the coming weeks.) 

I am currently working on my BFA. My minor is psychology. It took me nearly 10 years as an adult to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I love making art, and sharing it with other people. While I was deployed in 2011 I jokingly referred to my time drawing as art therapy. Turned out Art Therapy is a real thing, and now I am roughly halfway toward my goal of becoming an Art Therapist. My niche was never a specific subject, style, or medium, but a way of making whatever kind of art I want, and use art itself as a medium to help others. 
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