Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Time to art

Beginnings of an early morning effort at City Park

I wanted to be an artist growing up. I waited impatiently in school for art classes, and I can still remember projects from elementary school - the excitement of plying scissors to yellow and red and pink construction paper, letting glue dry on my hands and peeling it off (well, maybe that was less about art, but let's call it part of the process), the smell of big plastic jars of bright poster paint. Outside of school, I was in an art class with several other, much older students that was held in a local woman's garage. There, I was able to experiment with the sorts of supplies that were too expensive to be had in public schools, and the scent of turpentine still takes me back to that space with its unfinished wooden walls and its cluster of easels, shelves of motor oil and mason jars of bolts.

High school was where I realized that I probably wasn't cut out to be a real artist despite the loving care of a wonderful and very encouraging art teacher. I took a few pieces to a juried exhibition for a summer program, and walking down the aisles of art, spread out on a basketball court in Raleigh, I realized that I simply was not inspired. I knew without any sense of regret or sadness that I just wasn't an artist the way that some of these kids were artists. While I'd spend years of my childhood learning, I didn't have that natural thing that inspires remarkable art.

It wasn't a traumatic experience. I accepted it and turned to language arts, my second love, as my chosen path in college, and I wrote a lot of horrible but inspired poetry in college along with some not terrible but not particularly fantastic short stories.

But I never made any art again, not even bad art.

To be honest, I barely noticed. I enjoyed the art that other people created, and that was enough.

And then I had Fain.

I have to think that it was being part of the most natural creative act in the world that re-ignited my early impulse towards making art. Then, as a single mother on a teacher's salary, some of the motivation was a restricted budget. Art was a cheap way to spend quality time with Fain. Art was also a cheap way to make a comfortable, happy home.

And before I knew it, I was happily making things often as a single mother can find time to make things.

So I had my muse in Fain, and now I have Jack, my patron, who encourages me to try everything and take time to sit down and sketch lop-sided houses or learn embroider in wonky, uneven stitches or plant a garden thick with Pride of Barbados and shrimp plants, which really is layering thick, breathing paint on a dark brown canvas.

What I really have to work on now is making the time to make art or my personal imitation of it, which is not a simple task. Not simply because I have a lot of other things to do still (though not nearly as much as I had to do as a single mother, which is a whole other post), but also because a girl has to convince herself that art just for the sake of it is worth making time for. I believe it is when other people do it, but there's a part of me that still feels like it's a frivolous waste of time that could be put to something more pragmatic when I do it.