I enjoy a crafty disposition. My dad says I get it from his mother. He has told me that she was a very creative woman. My craftiness, like my cooking, is done with abandon for the rules. Trying to do things perfect is not much fun for me. One example of this is, in the past, I have enjoyed a free-form style of painting.
For both of my children’s births, rather than purchase artwork for their bedrooms, I painted them pictures. For Nathan, I looked at sheep paintings on the Internet, found one I liked, and painted it on a canvas the size that I wanted it to be. I emulated another person’s work by blowing it up, tracing it and then filling it in with acrylic paints. I even did the shading by copying the work. It was a folk art piece – a sheep jumping in the clouds with stars all around it. Easy enough.
For Jesse’s room I got a little more ambitious. I did two. Both were bear paintings, again copied. Except this time I used the bears from another person’s work and I made up my own backgrounds. I admit I am person whose spatial-perception is challenged, so I again blew up the bears to the size of my canvas and traced them before painting. It worked. The paintings are still in her room to stay until Jesse is ready for her next, more grown-up, décor (mostly likely in the princess theme). Truth be known, I have my sights set on painting something for that too.
Because of this experience with my children’s rooms, I thought I had a gift for painting. I figured if I took a drawing class to help with my spatial-challenge then I could be a top-notch painter. Painting, as I see it, is a very forgiving art form. From far away you can hardly see when things are not perfect. And, it is easy to paint over something when you mess up.
So, I enrolled in art classes. I signed up for a drawing class and a beginning painting class at an art center known for having great teachers. I printed off my list of supplies, spent my $300 (or more) to have the best of the best. I spared no expense or time in getting ready for my debut to the world of learned drawing and painting.
But once I got there I had a surprise waiting for me. First of all, I was a real dud in the painting class. I stood at my easel behind a woman that, believe me, was no beginner. Our first assignment was to paint an apple. We sat in chairs while the instructor, a woman of about 45 who had been painting since she first left the womb, showed us in five easy steps how to paint an oval, mix our colors, shade it here and there, go back over it with finer strokes, then paint the background. And, voila, there’s an apple on the canvas.
Sound easy? Well, my apple looked like a pumpkin while the “beginner” in front of me had her apple done by the time we left class. And her apple looked exactly like the picture. Exactly. I didn’t give up though. I took my apple home and tried to fix it. I eventually threw it away and started again. And again it looked like a pumpkin. I painted that apple at least six times before it finally looked enough like an apple that I felt it was a keeper and took it back to the next class for critique. My next creations were not much better. My onion and garlic painting looked like a baseball and a ping pong ball next to each other. My grapes looked like they were hanging in the air. Each time I left that class I felt so let down. I went again and again and each time I detested painting more and more. While the lady in front of me was hitting her stride, learning everything she came to learn, I was getting frustrated and sad.
On the up side, the drawing class went much better. My first assignment there was to draw an egg. My egg looked great. I was a contender here. My second assignment was to draw a coffee cup with the light shining on it. It was a cup, alright. And the shading was magnificent, if I do say so myself. Drawing was agreeing with me, but was I really agreeing with drawing?
I was in the drawing class sitting next to a lady I sat next to every week. She, by trade, is an artist. I went to her website and her work is beautiful. I’m not sure why she was in a beginners drawing class, but she said she felt like being in the class would force her to draw every day, something she does not do often because she is a painter. For some reason it did not bother me that her drawings were far superior to mine like it did when the lady in my painting class left me in the dust. I think I really thought I would excel at painting and when it came to drawing I did not expect to see that I could do well.
One day I was sitting next to the lady in my drawing class and we were drawing a person. I started to feel exhausted by the work we were doing and I said, “This is really wearing me out. I cannot wait to leave here.”
My drawing neighbor said, “Really? I feel so energized by this. It gets me excited.”
That’s when it hit me. I might like to paint and draw, but what gets me jazzed up is when I am writing.
At the time I had been working on my book, Surviving Braces. I found myself awake at 4 a.m. many mornings and I could not help myself but to get up and come to my computer to write, re-arrange, edit, or pick photos for the book. Everything about the project made my heart sing. I felt so alive when I worked on my book.
I feel the same way every time I have an idea for a post for my blog or even when I am writing something for my eyes only. I get keyed up. I cannot wait to have the time to sit and write.
It was after that class when the lady told me she was so energized by the drawing and I knew I was so exhausted by it that I learned what being passionate about something really means. How when it is a passion it feels alive.
This does not mean I do not like painting or drawing. I do. I took two hours just last week to draw two apples, one for each teacher, on the front of cards for Nathan’s teachers. I drew and colored those apples just like my painting teacher said to do it, but I did it with crayons, and they looked great (to my eyes). It was fun. I also love to cook, read, walk in nature, and play tennis.
But these are not writing. Writing is the most fun, it is challenging, it is exciting, it is life altering, it feels like my soul’s work expressed out loud – it is my passion.