Friday, 4 September 2015

My Dream Was Realized... just not with a paint brush

Once upon a time I had this dream of becoming a painter. No, I didn't envision framed paintings that people have on their walls - my dream was never that big. All I wanted was to be able to create note cards with simple, serene scenes; nothing extravagant at all. I love sending cards, so why not my own creations, right? And I really believed I could do that, especially after someone told me that one can easily learn to draw and paint, because it's just as much a learned skill as natural talent. If that were true, I wouldn't be writing this post. Maybe I'd have a quaint little shop somewhere, a website and sell my own brand of cards.

Chasing the dream, I tried to develop some skills with two different artists. One of them was a sweet lady who gave art lessons at our school. With her lessons I was able to create, well, sort of nice water colour pictures; but not nice enough for someone to utter a breathless, "LOVELY!" when pulling it from an envelope. And I was still not comfortable with dabbing paint on paper. I knew I was artistic in other ways, but this was not working for me, at least not as easily as I assumed it would.

Still, I wasn't willing to give up this dream. So, one day I spent some time with another artist, a guy this time. My sister, Sonia also took part in these private lessons. To set the scene, the two of us were sitting at our kitchen table with this very talented artist friend; all kinds of painting tools were spread out in front of us. At that time, Sonia clearly had tons of talent and was excited about slapping paint on the sheet in front of her, and did so effortlessly. Meanwhile, I felt like a timid, unsure mouse looking on. My sheet stayed white for the longest time. I don't know, maybe I didn't like the mess, or was afraid of making a mistake I wouldn't be able to fix. Or else I wasn't patient enough to stick with it longer. In any case, nothing worth looking at, happened on my paper. Oh, maybe there was a nice green lawn, with a little house and trees in the background. But nothing I wanted to share with anybody on a card. I think, after this lesson, I knew in my heart this dream was not going anywhere.

But, what sealed it for me, was a conversation this artist had with my sister sometime later. He said something I knew was true, but was not yet ready to admit, at least not out loud. And it seemed he didn't have the heart to tell me to my face. They were talking about the lessons and Sonia was probably gushing about a painting she was working on, when this artist thoughtfully said, "I know you're cut out to do this and it's obvious you love it, but I'm not so sure about Linda. She's just not willing to take the risks necessary to be a painter." My sister agreed and so did I, with no hard feelings for this kill-the-dream assessment. We laughed about it after, when I told him, "Next time I want to take on painting, I'll remember to go with paint by number...or colour by number would even be better; no messes."
(To see some of Sonia's work, go to these posts: Hutterite and Hobbies and  Snapshot Muse #28.)

As for cards, I still love to send them and I do so quite frequently - they all have other artists' work on the front, which is much appreciated by this almost-but-not-quite artist.

Today, I'm quite content to paint with words. No need to be intimidated by making mistakes, with spell check and the ability to delete and start over at my disposal. Plus, it never gets messy sitting at a computer and allowing my fingers to dance on the keyboard. There are even some people out there who see value in my word pictures. So much so, they encouraged me to give my stories wings, in the shape of a published book.

My sincere thanks to Shirley Showalter for inspiring this post with one of her own, Becoming an Artist: A Lifelong Dream. She's also the author of a beautiful memoir, Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets the Glittering World.

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