I am not an artist.
I have told myself that 6,593 times in my lifetime so far. At least.
It all started in kindergarten. I couldn’t color in the lines. No matter how hard I tried.
In third grade my teacher laughed at me when she took the scissors from my clumsy, sweaty little hand and said, “Sage, you can’t even cut along this bold black outline? Really?!? Didn’t they teach you that in kindergarten???”
“Well,” I mumbled, turning all shades of brilliant red, “they tried. It isn’t Mrs. Yakamoto’s* fault. She tried! I’m just…hopeless.”
So began the traumatic stress disorder.
I told myself that if I could only cut with big people scissors, I could do a better job. Years later, I can testify that this wasn’t the answer.
It didn’t help that my sister won a HUGE Victorian doll house in a coloring contest when she was two years old. Okay…maybe she was really six. Anyway, I know that you shouldn’t compare yourself to others…but when your baby sister can color better than you can…it damages one’s confidence.
So continued the traumatic stress disorder.
Then along came Sarah. She’s ridiculously talented in art. And everything else I can think of right now. Another baby sister who is a natural. I didn’t compare myself to her. It was worse than useless to do that.
It wasn’t that I didn’t try. I did. All sorts of art projects. Different mediums. Different styles.
Mom is a wonderful artist. She paints incredible pictures…and has a knack for making everything she touches beautiful. She could even touch my work and make it look better. I thought it must be some gift that mothers had in their perfect mother hands, and wondered if I could ever be a mother…
Dad is an artist too. His work is strange and unique and interesting and amazing.
It’s all around me…that artist gene.
Scrapbooking…one of my worst nightmares. I went to a friend’s wedding shower last year and the hostess announced that everyone was going to do one page in a scrapbook for the bride. Right there at the party. No sisters or mother with me to help me out of that. I broke out in a cold sweat. I tried to think up a good excuse to leave early. I wondered if it would work to fake illness. I took a deep breath and did a page. A pathetic, horrid little page. Then I hid it under the pile of incredibly creative pages that were done by the half-dozen art majors that were also at the party. No joke. Art majors. *groan*
I’m sitting here tonight with glitter and gold and purple paint on my fingers, because I tried to be an artist again today. A project for my writing class, no less. I love my writing teacher. She’s amazing. But she likes throwing in these assignments for visuals. This is the third time that an assignment from her included “glitter and glue” and only the first time that I actually attempted it. There were ways to get around the other assignments. Today, I decided to give it a try.
My first attempt looked like an ice cream cone suspended above a blob of…something horrendous. I gave up, ripped off the “ice cream cone”, folded the cardboard in half to throw it away, and then opened it back up to find that we all liked it better after it had been pressed together and completely altered. So, with a little more work, I have completed my assignment.
Don’t ask what it is. It has deep symbolic meaning. Trust me on that. But it doesn’t matter. If you look at it cross-eyed and blurry it’s colorful, modern and abstract.
I think I need to let go, forget all my post-traumatic stress, tell myself 6,594 times (at least) that I AM an artist and embrace whatever comes. Uncomfortable as it may be at first, I think I need to become acquainted with the artist in me. I think it’s time.
Meanwhile, I am deeply grateful that I don’t HAVE to be an artist. I sure wouldn’t want to rely on that to make a living!
*Name may be changed to protect the innocent. Or because my memory has failed me at the moment. It was something like that though. I think.