Unleashed Imagination

Artists come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and age groups. They’re creative people who produce art: photographers, potters, painters, actors, chefs, fashion designers, writers, singers, illustrators, sculptors, musicians, and the list goes on…

Last year when I applied for a writer’s residency, I was asked for my artist statement. What?! I’d never given it a moment’s thought. They wanted to know the why behind my writing. So I got busy and crafted one:

Artist Statement — Laurie Buchanan

Writing to me, is what an empty box is to a child—a key that unlocks the imagination, transforming empty space into a race car or stage coach, fort or castle, spaceship or submarine. For me a blank page is transportation to a world of my own, one where anything is possible.


Early on, the process of painting word pictures struck me as magical. Over the years that spellbinding practice led me from writing lyrics, to magazine articles, blogging, short stories, and finally to writing books.

A vehicle for transforming inner vision to outer reality, writing fills me with a sense of completion. Though I work quite deliberately, consciously employing my muse—brevity, concision—my unconscious is the one who holds the reins.

Never without a notebook or laptop, the concrete nature of writing—pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard—frees my imagination and provides opportunity for serendipity and grace to influence the finished product.

I didn’t set out to become a writing alchemist—an author whose words affect positive change—but as my portfolio developed and my reading audience grew, that description emerged.

One of the most wondrous aspects of writing is that each reader enjoys a different takeaway from the same word picture—therein lies the magic.

Have you had to craft an artist statement, mission statement, or perhaps a life statement?

© lauriebuchanan.com

72 thoughts on “Unleashed Imagination

  1. Umm, can I use YOURS? Just kidding, but I love how you express your joy/path to painting word pictures. And yes, writing is magical for me, and yes, I feel like I’m an alchemist when I mix my words together. See? You said it perfectly. THANK YOU. Because before, I’d never considered crafting an artist’s (or life) statement. And it’s an excellent idea.

    • Pam — I’d never thought about it either until it was REQUIRED of me as part of the application process. I was stunned (it nearly knocked the pins out from under me). But I’m glad I had to go through the (not fun at all, painful) exercise because now I have it 🙂

  2. I love the word pictures you have produced here, just lovely, imaginative and humorous! Pure you, I believe !

    Yes I have created an artist statement several times, the first one my approached to my photography and than later as I began to exhibit work each gallery asked for a statement of what the work was about.

    These statements are never really easy for talking about myself and my craft is a bit egoic as well as cast is magic and mystical behavior.

    • Jeff — Yes, as a photographer who shows his work in exhibits, I can well imagine that you’ve had to create an artist statement. You’re right, they’re not easy. And it’s always hard to talk about oneself, but it’s a necessary part of marketing 🙂

    • Merril — I’m glad my statement resonated with you. It wasn’t the least bit fun creating it, but now that it’s complete, I’m happy to have had the experience (and an artist statement for the next time I apply for a writer’s residency) 🙂

    • Marian — I can tell you that the “photo shoot” for this post was a complete and total blast! With Len being a pilot, we were able to borrow the aviation gear from one of the generous people among his flying friends. (Finding a box big enough for me to fit in was a whole other story)….

  3. Yes. Many times. I pretty much can’t do it, because after all these years making pictures, I haven’t a clue what art is… especially now, when all creative endeavors are so watered down.

    • ZenPresence — And while I didn’t enjoy the exercise of creating the statement, I’m glad that it came up and was required of me. I met the challenge and it’s behind me now. A good feeling 🙂

  4. Awesome blog!


    [image: Inline image 1]

    *”I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining.* *I believe in love, even when I’m alone* *I believe in God, even when He is silent.” *

  5. Beautiful statement, Laurie. I found myself having to write an Artist Statement for last summer’s Arundel Art Trail, in which I exhibited my Crochet jewellery, thanks to a dear friend’s persuasion. I would have never have had the courage otherwise. I am glad to say it went quite well even though I wasn’t even there!!!

  6. Artist Statements are hard. It’s like walking backward through what is already done, to figure out the hows and whys.of it when – at the time – I was just hooked on the joy of creation. Your statement is wonderful!

    • Cindy — You are absolutely spot-on correct! I’m so glad the writing of it is in the rearview mirror. It wasn’t a pleasant experience at all. But now I’ve got an Artist Statement to “wield” (like a shiny sword) the next time I’m asked for one 🙂

  7. Your statement captured the spirit of your writing so well. It is that sense of child-like adventure, curiosity, wonder connected to deeper life explorations that delights and provokes thought at the same time.
    Your picture is a perfect companion to your artist statement. I chuckled when I saw it.

    I don’t have an artist statement. I’m still in the process of re-inviting my artist in and embracing her. As a coach and consultant I see the creative dimension operate primarily in the moment (usually after much unrelated preparation) … my creative animating essence (as I’ve alluded to in another post).

  8. Your statement is wonderful. I have none, for I’m not sure I am an artist. I love to play with words, to mold them into sentences, into paragraphs, to express my thoughts into some kind of cohesive (or not) form. To blend the words with photos which show you what I have seen, as close to the way I’ve seen it as possible.

  9. Artists often see writing the artists statement as a chore we really don’t like to do. I don’t like feeling like I have to explain myself or my art, but sometimes shows, galleries, etc. ask for one. Mine really needs updated, although I rarely use it anymore. Thank you for the different perspective on the artists statement. Yours is quite lovely.

    • Espirational — You’re right. I didn’t like crafting it. At all! But now that it’s behind me, I’m glad I was required to go through the exercise. I bet yours just needs a wee bit of dusting off and it’ll be good as gold!

  10. Wonderful artist’s statement – especially the growing and expanding as a writer and that paragraph about your writing effecting positive changes. Can certainly relate to that although sometimes I fell like a consumer advocate or writer’s advocate. How about you, Laurie?

    Yes, I’ve had a crack at my artist’s statement – as a practice exercise in the Literature Group I belong to at the Toronto Heliconian Club. And it was critiqued. So it needs more work but not necessarily embedding everybody else’s ideas. It is my statement, but has to be expanded somewhat from my mission statement that I’ve used for years (and base my writing, editing and writing instruction/speaking on) “We make words sparkle.”

  11. My artist statement is a work in progress. Today–inspired by your post, Laurie, I wrote…

    Writing is my voice. Through it I connect with the world and draw attention to what is important to me. Through it I entertain, enlighten, inspire and empower. Through it I build bridges.

  12. As a visual artist, I’ve written artist statements for each of my exhibitions. They always included a line about life being my true work of art. That we can treat whatever we choose to do with a dab of this color here and another over there is what living is all about.

  13. Oh, how I usta do so many things with big cardboard boxes when I was a kid from space ships to forts. We made many of our own toys back then. Kids today don’t make things with their hands anymore and there is no room for the use of imagination .

  14. Laurie, Oh, my Word! There nothing, nothing, like a cardboard box to inspire the imaginations of children (or the young at heart)! As a matter of fact, there is a certain Beagle with a wildly soaring imagination that you put me in mind of in the photo. For you, it is a keyboard or tablet and pen that fires your brain up. For me it can be a blank canvas or more often than not, a piece of land or garden space that seems to need some TLC. I have never deliberately crafted an Artist’s Statement or Mission Statement, I’ve never felt the professional need of it. One thing I’ve always told my clients though, and made good on it too, ” I plan to leave this in better shape than I found it.” They had faith in my words and I made it so, not just for their sake’s but mine as well. Love that photo!

    • Sandi — I know you make good on your word, and I know that your clients love—absolutely love— your work! I’m glad you enjoyed the photo. Len and I had fun during the “photo shoot” (but it was hard to keep Willa away from my cardboard box)! 🙂

  15. Wow, that is an incredible statement, though I can’t say I’m surprised Laurie. So of our own imaginjings, short of an actual statement have taken place in our back yard in the small enclosure at the top of a sliding pond attached to an old swing set. The kids still mill there on occasions and my daughter Melanie has used her moving camera during those sessions. Great post!

  16. You really make me laugh , you sitting in that box brings back so many memories of the adventures I had as a child with simple things …an old blanket , some garden tools, a piece of rope and a washing bowl …don’t ask but was fun . My son always loved boxes he wold put one at the back of nan’s sofa with a blanket draped over it with a big sign in childish scrawl KEEP OUT😋
    I have never had to write an artist!s statement and I think I’d probably find it difficult , yours is amazing . I keep looking at you in that box and it makes me laugh …you fool .🙃

    • Cherry – Your comment made me laugh. Now I’m wondering about what you got up to with your ingredients for mischief: an old blanket, garden tools, piece of rope, and washing bowl. Oh dear! 🙂

  17. Love the photo image and all the word imagery in this post, Laurie. I’ll bet that’s the best artist statement submitted for the residency. I’ve done numerous statements of this kind, and I’ve always learned something from the forced brevity. Confinement leads to creativity often. One of the many paradoxes of life!

    • Shirley — I’m glad this post resonated with you. Although I don’t remember reading about it in BLUSH, I bet you’ve enjoyed a cardboard box or two in your time.

      I agree with your keen observation: “Confinement leads to creativity often.”

  18. I’ve never had to do something like this, but if I do I’m just going to copy and paste your statement and put my name on it. Is that cool? You don’t mind right? Thanks Laurie your the best!

  19. Wonderful artist statement Laurie, and creative use of the box too! You fit nicely in there! Statements of all kinds can be very powerful, and back in 2012 I had written a life purpose statement as follows:

    “I desire to live a holistic life that nurtures my mind, body, and spirit, while inspiring those around me. In order to accomplish this work of love, I will increase my self-care efforts by continuing to improve my thinking, honoring my physical health, and connecting daily with a spiritual practice. The resultant energy and love from my actions will positively affect the quality of my own life, and all those I come in contact with.” Cathie Barash

    Thanks for another uplifting post! Happy New Year too!


  20. I am late to the party here – What a wonderful statement Laurie and I bet it was a challenge for you to produce – Thanks for stepping up to the plate. Loved the picture and laughed out loud.

    I feel exhausted tonight and can not think of a response right now…I do not feel much art in my being right now, though quite full of the art and beauty that has been this day.

  21. Hello….love your post….great word for the New Year….alliance….covers a lot of territory…and congrats on your upcoming publication….I bet your over the moon happy….kat

  22. I loved how your end result here, your statement, evolved as you followed the path you identified in the writing. There must be a word for this!
    I also love the photo. Delight radiates from you. I can’t wait to get to my writing time today and see what comes out.

  23. I am in the process of trying to write a mission statement – my direction has changed so much in the last ten years. Finding clarity on this is beyond challenging for me as I think in bigger and bigger circles instead of narrowing. I keep trying to learn to focus – it keeps eluding me. I stand in awe of your ability to focus and simplify! Loved this: “writing alchemist—an author whose words affect positive change” Perfect.

    • Dorothy — Truth be told, the writing of my artist statement was not fun in the least. In fact, it was downright difficult. Once it was in the rearview mirror and we did the “photo shoot,” it was a blast. Keep chipping away at a (a little bit each day), and you’ll nail it to the wall! 🙂

  24. Yes Laurie B., therein lays the magic of the written word. Yes I have composed my Artist Statement but I think I might look at it again.

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