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Once an Artist

March 16, 2010

What are you going to be when you grow up? Quite a question to ponder especially while still very young. At first, I just wanted to be a horse and might have said so a time or two. When I was about five I knew that I should never be a nurse. I felt the pain of those in pain far too much. The empathy ran far too strong in me. I got queasy at the sight of blood too. But what was I to be when I grew up? I always wanted to be a mother. For a while, I thought I might be a teacher. I loved art from an early age, so I thought I would be some kind of an artist. Maybe an art teacher. Along the way, my interests varied and encompassed many things, mostly artistic. I dabbled in music, singing, some instruments and especially dance. I did some acting in theater. I was active in many sports.

Through it all, my greatest passion was art. I drew with pencils, charcoal and oil pastels. Then I got my hands on some paints and brushes. For a long time, my thing was more in the black and white realm. I loved ink. I enjoyed playing with the contrast of black on white: finding balance and beauty in the negative and positive spaces. I was more known as a pencil and ink sketch artist. And then I went from ink and wash to watercolor. I played with oil paints a while and then acrylic, but went back to watercolor and stayed there for a length of time.

In the days of my freelance art career long ago, I suppose you could say I was either very versatile or had some attention deficit thing going. I did children’s and other community theater backdrops and some stage design, I did murals and signs for businesses, promotional and advertising art and layout including logos, business cards and brochures, and I was commissioned to do many a painting and so on, including portraiture.

And then came the babies. After my little ones ‘helped’ me with my ink sketches and paintings a few too many times (when I had to step away from my drafting board or easel), I put the paints and ink away for a number of years. As anybody who has ever put their paints away for a space of time knows, and maybe anybody who hasn’t ridden a horse in a while, you can be afraid to try to get back into or onto it. It’s not quite like riding a bike. Well, maybe it is. If  you haven’t ridden a bike in a while, you’re not sure if you are going to find your balance right away. I seem to recall the last time I got on a bike after not having ridden in a long time, I felt pretty wobbly. It was like that getting on a horse again after so long not riding. Fear. A little fear, anyway. So, when I got the paints out again, I felt the fear. I felt rusty. I felt like a ‘has-been’. It didn’t matter how many ink sketches and paintings I had once done, and how many works of art I had sold in the past, I thought I had lost the ability. I thought my best works were far behind me. I didn’t know if I still had it.

I decided to start with finger painting, abstracts, anything to just get me started playing with art and paints again. I realized that maybe I should try some things I had never done before, so that I wouldn’t compare new rusty efforts to old and more refined works. I jumped into bright colors and relaxed and playful attempts. I had done far more realistic stuff before. To begin again, I gave myself permission to play. That was a bunch of years ago and I would say that I am still playing with color. And with shapes too. I keep trying new styles and ideas. I don’t paint or draw nearly as often as I used to. I’ve been writing more of late. I’ve been painting for fun. I’m a little more serious about the writing these days. I have no plans for any art shows or to sell a one of my more recent paintings any time soon. I’m painting for me, not for money. Come to think of it, I’m writing for me too. It’s not about the money. Either way, once an artist, always an artist.


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