Being an Artist

Being an Artist

by Pat Monical

Although I now freely call myself an artist, it wasn’t always that way. Even when others referred to me as an artist I would qualify it with a modest “Well I paint and draw.” I've often wondered if others did that and why it may be so.

I suppose I always thought that artists were those who studied art and worked creating art full-time in order to earn the title. Perhaps I was conditioned to think this way by societal norms, but that doesn’t mean it’s valid. Of course the converse would be to say that anyone who has ever taken pencil to paper is an artist and I don’t believe that has any more validity to it. That would make anyone who has ever written a sentence or note an author and poet. So I pondered the idea of what makes one an artist.

Love at first sight, when it all began.

I’ve created art my entire life. Yes, I was that toddler who drew on the walls once. . . and only once. I remember the first real art materials I received and how alive with color they were. It was love at first sight. I had this unction to draw and create from then on. Like any young child I didn’t always stay in the lines but in time I began to create those lines myself and form images. In grade school I was often asked to create special art work for projects or bulletin boards and loved it. It was something I could do and balanced out my not so stellar performance at softball during recess. I had a niche.

“I suppose I always thought that artists were those who studied art and worked creating art full-time in order to earn the title.”

In high school I drifted to music and foreign languages for electives but still kept drawing and painting on my own. When faced with going to college and choosing a major, it was a no-brainer for me; art it was. And there is where I met my first hurdle in life.

Oasis, 15.5" x 6.5" colored pencil on pastelmat.

My father was a practical man who firmly said there was no way he would approve of a major in art. He was looking out for my well-being and wanted me to work at acquiring education and skills in something with which I could successfully support myself. That conversation still rings in my ears, “Not everyone makes it as an artist. You’ll end up working at the dime store with an art degree. You need something to fall back on.” So my dreams of art were dashed for more practical studies. While it could be argued that one should follow their dreams, for me it turned out to be wise and sage advice. He had my best interest at heart and it was his way of showing love. It ultimately held me in good stead. Later in life he was my greatest fan with respect to my art.

Ch Micadee’s Impress Me “Presley” 14"x11" colored pencil on pastelmat.

While my studies went in a different direction, art never left my mind or heart and I continued to create while in college. For electives, I picked up art history and studio courses as a way to maintain my sanity amidst all the other more demanding studies. They were my oasis. Ultimately one of my professors saw some of my space art work and shared it with an adjunct instructor who just happened to be the director of the St. Louis Planetarium. He asked if I would like to have a show at the planetarium where I sold my first painting. The director of programs at the planetarium commissioned work for an upcoming star show being produced that would premiere in St. Louis and then be distributed around the country. My first commission! And still I didn’t refer to myself as an artist.

“Seeing and creating art was as much a need as oxygen was to me. It was as much a part of my being as is my eye color.”

As time went on I received more commission work and either being stupid or naive I took them all. I had never done portraits before, human or otherwise but that didn’t deter me. Art is art, seeing is seeing, it’s all the same method and subject doesn’t matter. In time my commission work grew and when referring to my work I would simply say, “I do art work for people and for myself.” I still hadn’t embraced calling myself an artist.

So when did my mindset change about that? When I started thinking about what being an artist entails. When I was nudged into changing my course of study it didn’t change my love of art. I still looked at the world in colors, shadows, light, subjects, and compositions. Seeing and creating art was as much a need as oxygen was to me. It was as much a part of my being as is my eye color. That realization was the turning point when I came to embrace the fact that I was an artist. It wasn’t only education, training, job, or skill that made me an artist. It was more than all of those. It was that drive and way of seeing life that made it true, the strong force that brings all of those elements together. And with that simple truth, I became an Artist.


Pat Monical holds degrees in astrophysics and mathematics from the University of Missouri — St. Louis. Her love of art led her to also study studio art in college. She has worked as a commission artist for more than 30 years. Her artwork has been featured in Ann Kullberg’s CP Treasures 6, CP Hidden Treasures 5 and 6, and the March 2018 edition of Color magazine.

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Comments (3)

We love her work and love her! Both Beautiful!

Steve and Reid - Aug 16, 2020

To say that Pat is a talented artist would be an understatement. Her deciption of Presley, our much loved 15-year old cocker spaniel who recently crossed the rainbow bridge, is so realistic it brings tears to my eyes. Pat’s attention to detail is impeccable.

Pam Duff

Pam Duff - Aug 16, 2020

I love your Father’s philosophy AND your artwork.

Glenn A Davis - Aug 16, 2020

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