By Leslie Chandler

In my day job, I am not only an Art Teacher but also a Language Teacher. But how do these distinctly different roles help me to better understand who I am becoming as an Artist with a capital “A”? Actually, it is like the notes on a scale: it is all a matter of degrees.

It is becoming more accepted now among educators that there is not an artificial line we cross before we can consider ourselves a speaker of another language, as if there were a volume control that we can switch on or off. (We don’t wake up one day and suddenly the volume is “on”!) Rather, people acquire language — its patterns, nuances, idiomatic expressions, cultural relevances — gradually. Truth be known, if we exchange greetings, we can honestly say we speak the language — to a certain degree. With time, opportunity, encouragement and practice, that degree will continually expand and the language learner will recognize the song when they hear it.

So then, at what point will the music be loud enough for the creatives among us to be able to recognize ourselves as “an Artist”? Is it literally only a matter of credentials and training? (Do we wait until we hear someone else call us an “Artist”? Or is it something less specifically definable?) We all start singing at some point.

It took me a very long time to cross my own line. I have always been told that I am creative and artistic for as long as I can remember, but I was well into my adult years before I gave myself the gift of accepting myself as an Artist at heart, to a degree. Now that this part of my innate self is slowly expanding (and I am finding a wonderful, exciting freedom in that!), I hope I never forget that there are many other creatives out there who are beginning to explore their own artistic identities. Some have many amazing and well-earned credentials or a depth of experience, and admiring their creations is like listening in awe to a moving symphony. Others are just beginning to turn up the volume in their own ways, like whistling a happy tune, unaware that anyone else can hear it. 

I really enjoy hearing from everyone who shares my passion for art. Many people send me photos of their favourite paintings, others just like to talk about what they are learning yet still others love to exchange ideas. I’m so grateful for all of you! I believe we are all learning the language of Art, to a degree. And the music is still playing!