why i don’t think of myself as an artist

Why I dont think of myself as an artist

You will see it all over this website, on guest posts and in interviews, when I talk on social media about the courses I create, or the work I do.

If it’s not written it’s implied. If I’m not actually writing or talking about myself as ‘an artist’, you’ll see images of me wearing a paint splattered apron, or of paintings I’ve made, or talking about something art related. I chose the image for this post on purpose. ;)

And in spite of all this, I don’t think of myself as an artist.

It’s not because I don’t think I’m ‘good’ at art; I’m no Da Vinci but I can draw and express myself in paint in a way that’s pleasing and meaningful to both me and others.

It’s not because I don’t often sell my work.

It’s not because I don’t have a Fine Art degree. I don’t have a degree at all, actually.

It’s not because I don’t paint every day, or even every week.

It’s not because I don’t make a full time living from selling paintings.

It’s because ultimately, it doesn’t mean anything. Not anything real about who I am, or about who you are.

It’s a useful label so you can identify what I’m doing and whether or not that’s going to be interesting to you, or supportive of your own path.

If you visit here and like what you see, that’s wonderful. I love to connect and share with you.

I love to make art; that much is evident. I just don’t care what I’m called while I’m doing it.

And I spent too long worrying that those six letters in that particular order contained something that meant that I wasn’t really ‘allowed’ to use them.

I don’t swear often here, but fuck that.

Much as I might like to, I can’t alter how you see yourself so it’s more in line with the truth. I can’t make you put brush to canvas and experience that unique connective high. I can’t make you feel anything without you choosing it for yourself. But I can be myself and let that be permission for all of us {myself included}.

And whether or not I think I’m an artist doesn’t even really matter. I’m still going to paint. I’m still going to share. I’m still going to do everything I do that aligns with the impulses within me, because it feels good. That’s it.

If other things come from it, which they inevitably will, then they will happen. I might even choose to influence how often or in what kinds of ways they happen. I might create a course because I have something to share that might be of use to you, and because I want to share the beautiful gifts of art and creativity that life gives us with you.

Beyond that, you can call me an artist, but really I’m just being the person I can’t help being. And that’s a person who likes to play and experiment and express herself with paint and colour, and whose art asks her to keep doing it and sharing it with whomever might enjoy it.

Criteria and definitions are not important. Fulfilling yourself is. So what do you say? Shall we not be artists together? :)


Abstractify - make your art your ownMy painting course, Abstractify, is all about making art that’s truly expressive of you and your unique style, taking inspiration from abstract and expressionist painting. No labels required!

“I was enjoying my art but felt a little stuck on how to go forward with new techniques and approaches as I am new to art and haven’t had any training; I tend to make it up. Abstractify has given me new insights, approaches, techniques and materials to use and therefore I now feel I have grown and have lots of new avenues to explore. I wished it was longer:). To anyone considering the course, I’d say this will give you new eyes in which to look at life and multiple ways to express that experience.

Lisa Collyer, Abstractify student

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  • Sofia Gaal says:

    Oh Tara, I can’t tell you what a relieve it brings, reading this post of yours.
    I agree completely with you.
    A label is just a label.
    And how beautiful described that you find yourself ‘just’ being the person you can’t help being.

    There’s a lot going on on the internet about calling yourself an artist or not. And it all makes more or less sense.
    But I love your down to earth approach and it is taking a lot of ‘false air’ out of the discussion for me.

    • Tara says:

      Sofia I’m so glad you found relief! I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, not least because it encourages me as well. :) I agree about all this talk about calling yourself an artist, although I understand why it comes up. Much better to let go of that and make your art anyway. :)

  • ” but really I’m just being the person I can’t help being. ” I so resonate with this post Tara…thanks for stepping up and voicing your thoughts ;))) Wonderful xx

    • Tara says:

      So glad it clicked for you Lisa! I think it’s just a permission thing really; hard sometimes to give to yourself but then when you do things not only start flowing more in your favour, but it helps others give themselves the permission too. :)

  • michelle gd says:

    i’m in.
    i think you’ll know that this post resonates with me. {a lot}

  • linda says:

    Tara, I just discovered you recently-I think I googled something and one of your paintings came up and drew me in. I understand what you mean about not calling yourself an artist but yes, I’d like to call you one:) In the end it really is just another label.

    I am anxiously awaiting more information on your abstract drawing class. I am enrolling in one of your other classes in the meantime-its a Christmas present from my husband.

    I loved your first mini tutorial and look forward to learning more from you!

    • Tara says:

      Hi Linda, welcome! Thank you so much for visiting! Am so happy to hear you’ll be taking a course with me {what an excellent gift idea if I may say so ;) } and look forward to ‘meeting’ you.

  • Beryl smith says:

    Hi Tara I tried to email you so that you know that I’m still on no 1 assignment.I’m not used to this way of expressing myself but this is what I want to explore.I feel I have come to a point where I can go no further with my imagination and need to change tactics! I have all the revelant equipment. So I’m ready to learn new ways, with your help!

  • Caroline says:


    Thank you for voicing something I often struggle with. People see the box of paints, the watercolour pencils, the acrylics etc and say “oh are you an artist then?” and I feel myself blush and sputter, “um, no, not really. I just like to dabble. No, I’m not an artist” and I say the word “artist” with hushed breath!

    So to read that it is ok not to worry about that label and just create is a relief. I am not professional, I’m not even that good. But art is what helped me when struggling with anger and depression – a little like your life story. It was art that helped me express the anger, helped me have something positive to go to when I wanted to lash out at others or, more frequently, myself.

    So thank you and I am looking forward to learning more from your site and enjoying the freedom of creativity, whether it is good or bad.

    • Tara says:

      Hi Caroline – thank you for stopping by! Oh yes – dispense with labels, unless they help you! I love that art helped you through difficult times; it’s so good for that if you can tap into it.

  • Beverley Samuel says:

    I have had such a block since moving across the country a year ago. There are a lot of established artists in this part of the country and although I have displayed some of my work, I get the feeling that my work is not good enough. I have joined an art crit group, hoping to gain meaningful advice, but I usually come away from the group feeling absolutely stupid and feel likecan wbsolute beginner. Your words of encouragement are good, I am still struggling to sit down and paint.

    • Tara says:

      Sorry to hear you’ve been feeling a loss of confidence around your art Beverley. I’m glad you found encouragement here – that’s what I always aim for. Perhaps a crit group isn’t what you need just now? I know for many of us, the online world {and Instagram in particular if that’s your jam} often proves a lot more confidence boosting, and it’s quick to access it! :)

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