As a child I drew pictures before I spoke. Getting messy and spending hours with a paintbrush or a pencil in my hand was pure nirvana. It took me away to a magical and transcendent place! On a spiritual path for decades, I have sought to re-discover once again that beautiful, creative, and connected space in my soul.
As it turns out that baby girl with a fat crayon was the key. Everything changed for me when I went to school. In my matching plaid uniform complete with beanie I marched off to learn, and my artistic ability became a measure of my success. I began to see that my art was not my own but was something to be judged and critiqued. I became shameful of the imperfect cat I drew, next to my best friend’s stunning rendition of her family dog, adorned with that giant gold star! Still, I wasn’t that ‘bad’ at the art thing overall, and encouragement from parents, teachers and friends kept me going. As my older sister was the genius of the family, and my younger sister the talented athlete and popular girl…I became “The Artist”. Secretly, or not so secretly, molding me into the role of artist. I Found my box, my role, my path. The story goes on… Special art tutors, AP Art classes and an identity wrapped up in “being an artist”, complete with hippy clothing and clove cigarettes; I was set and went off to study art in college.
There was one fatal flaw in this picture. I knew at my core that the idea of producing art for others critique and purchase brought me no joy, just sheer terror. I did not want to pay my bills from the proceeds of making art and was afraid to admit this to anyone. And I saw, as I looked to my left and to my right in the college drawing studio, that I was generally mediocre at best. I was “not good enough”, even with my fancy college and my clove cigarettes. So, I quit, relieved to never have my artwork judged again. Subsequently, I put down my paintbrush for over 30 years and did not look back. With that Childs play out of the way I could put all my energy into all the important adult things I needed to accomplish, like getting a lucrative career, degrees, husband, kids. I became a Human-doing rather than a human-being, addicted to my productivity and accomplishment. It was mostly a stress filled existence.
Then my world came crashing down in my 50’s. prompted by usual suspects…empty nest, divorce, career shift. In search of spiritual connection, joy, light, some ‘reason’ beyond a kick-ass mid-life crisis, I picked up my paintbrush again. I took a course on alcohol Ink with a local accomplished artist, and I was transported back to pre-school. The thing about alcohol ink is the INK DOES WHAT IT WANTS most of the time. There is no controlling it or painting within the lines. You, as the artist, get to dance with it, but not be bound with outcomes, product and finality. These paintings can be worked and reworked forever. It’s like playing in the sandbox. My love affair with art was revived!
People inevitably ask me, when they find out I paint, “Are you framing them, selling them, giving them away…are you going to do something with them?” The short answer is no. Some pause and tilt their heads when I tell them I am producing art for art sake, and that I do not care what others think about it! It is a spiritual thing that brings me to that place of joy outside the box.
This hobby brings me an indescribable magical connection to my sweet happy inner ‘balanced child’….it offers me a retreat from this leaden world we live in.
So… I am gleeful that I am back in preschool, where no one asks a person then they are selling their paintings! Where everyone gets a gold star for participation and there is nap time and warm cookies. I love it here!