It’s never too late

SLEEP

I was talking to my childhood friend who was helping me put together a writing workshop for our community, and the topic of WIPS came up.

I, of course, have a list of unfinished projects—most of them in my head. She is starting on a non-fiction work that is killer! I don’t know why somebody else hasn’t already thought of it. I won’t mention it because I don’t want anyone to steal her idea, but when she publishes it, I’ll be the first to buy it. It’s a winner, winner.

But then she reminded me of a project that she and I had first discussed a few years ago—a children’s book with her being the writer and me being the illustrator.

Me? An illustrator? I laugh thinking about it. I have a friend who is an illustrator, an artist, a REAL artist. I don’t even come close.

But my how times have changed. There was a time in my life when I was a kid that I was known as the resident “artist.” I used to draw. And color. And paint. And take pictures.

I loved, loved, loved art. I haven’t thought about art much until my friend brought up the “good old days.”

When I graduated from high school, my parents didn’t expect me to go to college. I held my own in school, graduating ninth out of a class of 362 (I think). I made good grades, but I still held on to the idea that my trignometry teacher called me a spaz. (Now that I think about it, it’s probably true. Let’s just say I can see now where my children get their math skills.) My parents told me that I needed to major in something that would provide me a steady job. Our high school had ONE art teacher (THE BEST). What were the odds of me getting a job in art?

So I toyed with the idea of being an education major my first few weeks of college, then changed my major to recording industry management, got scared I wouldn’t find a job, and returned to education, majoring in English because one of my professors told me I could write. And that’s where I’ve been for, um, an extended stay.

But I like art, any kind of art. Most of the creative people I know try a little bit of everything before honing in on one skill. Drawing, painting, playing music, taking pictures. I thrive when I create.

All during high school, whenever anybody needed somebody to draw something, anything, I was the go-to person. I wasn’t particularly good at portraits, but I could draw other things. What I really liked doing was taking people’s names and designing each letter to create something unique. My dad was a printer, and he had access to leftover cardstock. Being a budding entrepreneur, I opened my own “business” and designed names for people, charging them a dime per letter. I designed my friend’s Pat’s campaign posters, and he drummed up customers for my art business.

I feel a little guilty now for taking their money. I should have been doing my trignometry.

Live-for-Each-MomentBut I loved what I was doing. I never felt like I “had” to do something when I created art. It was a gift to me, just the opportunity to create.

I waited and waited and waited until my senior year so that I could take THE art class. My art teacher, Jimmy “Grouch” Jones, was my hero. “The Old Man” taught me how to fire clay in a kiln, how to make torn-paper collages, how to shade, how to screen print, how to see something no one else could see. I wish I could say I was the best artist in my family, but all my younger cousins were so much better. But Jimmy Jones knew I liked his class better than any other class I had ever taken. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t the best. He treated all of his students as if they were “the best.”

Now that I am older, I realize that it’s not too late to dabble in art again. I don’t have the desire or the talent to create children’s books, but I think I should like to learn how to paint. I think I should like to dabble in folk art.

I made a new friend a few years ago at the annual Bell Buckle Arts and Crafts Show. I was meandering along when I saw this really cool folk art with a mojo, blues, music, spiritual theme. It was if someone had stepped into my head and had pulled out my ideas. How could it be? I introduced myself to the artist, and we talked, and I found out she also played guitar (the blues) and sang. I bought some of her work and have since bought a couple more of the pieces. I like it because it is different.

I like different.

Now that I’m old(er), I realize the only person I’ve ever had to please is myself, and I’ve never really made an effort to do so.

I think I’m going to create something. DANCE

It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be. For now.

I am no Monet. I am no Van Gogh. I am no Picasso. I Am made in the image of my Creator, and I like to create.

I like color. I can’t decide on ONE color, so in my house, I use as much color as I can in every room. I like color blocks. I like mosaics. Maybe I should create mosaics.

Or maybe I’ll start with something simple, maybe a painting class. I want to paint pictures of guitars. Maybe I can learn how to create my own style of folk art that will make people stop in their tracks and say, “Hey. Something about that piece reaches inside my soul and speaks to me.”

As George Eliot said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

GUITAR

 

Nothing to fear but fear itself

Pottery 2012 009

On a scale of 1-10, how afraid are you to try something new?

Oh, I’m sure most of you are quite courageous, but when it comes right down to it, if you really want to know how brave you are, measure your progress compared to your procrastination.

I have always been the artsy type. I got my first guitar at about age 12. As an elementary school student, I entered water color paintings in the country fair—and won. My all-time favorite class in high school was Mr. Jimmy “Grouch” Jones’ art class. I learned how to make pottery and to make torn-paper mosaics and to how sketch. I loved every minute of it. And you know I love to write and take photos.

But last year when I received a gift certificate to paint pottery, I was THRILLED, but I was scared. I wanted to paint, but I didn’t want to fail. So I put off going until I was sure I was ready. I waited and waited and waited until the day before the gift certificate expired. I went on my birthday. I figured it would be the PERFECT time to go.

I was so nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. I went by myself on my birthday, my personal vacation. (Well, after my dentist appointment.)

When I get nervous, I turn into a total geek-clutz-dork-goof ball. So when I pulled into the parking lot in front of the studio, I was extremely timid about parking. I pulled into a space, but then I wasn’t sure if I was in the handicapped spot, so I backed out. I got out and checked and changed my mind. Then I pulled back in. I got nervous again and pulled back out. Then I thought I had better be on the safe side, so I decided to back into a regular space behind me, so I did. But I parked crooked, so I got out and had to check the lines and pull back in again. It was insane.

By the time I worked up the courage to get out of the truck and go to the door, I was a nervous wreck.

I had wanted to go to the studio since the first day it opened. I imagined my pottery would be the most beautifully painted of the bunch. I have a knack. But when I actually stepped inside, I froze. I didn’t know what to do. There were children and adults of all ages doing their thing. And then there was me.

I explained to the young girl in charge that I was new and didn’t know what to do. She gave me the run down. Pick a piece, go to the paint station, sit down and paint. Easy enough.

Not.

I mean I am the queen of indecision. I didn’t know what to paint. A vase? A box? A picture frame? I chose a plate that was a triangle because it was shaped like a guitar pick, and I wanted a music themed piece. Perfect choice, so I thought.

I noticed everyone around me had water and a palette. I did not. I saw some water on a table. I took it. Later I would find out I stole someone else’s water. I played dumb. Well, I pretended to play dumb. I really was dumb.

And the table I chose had very few brushes, just big ole fat brushes. And there was no little palette. So I went to the young lady and explained my plight. She told me the palettes were at the paint station. Well, duh. My bad.

Then I sat there staring at the colors of paint. And sat there. And sat there. And sat there. Finally, the girl came over to me and whispered, “You know, you don’t have to wait on me to tell you that you can get the paint. You can go by yourself.”

I knew that. I just didn’t know what colors to chose. I wanted it to be PERFECT. I blushed and told her I was just having a hard time deciding. I finally moved to the paint station and began transporting bottles of paint to my table.

I was in trouble again. She came back. “Please don’t take the bottles to your table. Other customers have to use them. Just put the paint in your palette.”

Oh, why does life have to be so complicated?

When I started to paint, I realized that I could not draw a guitar on my plate with the big fat brushes. I had no choice. I had no pencil. I did the best I could.

Everything would have been fine except the two people next to me were apparently pottery painting experts. Penguins. SHE was painting a penguin on her plate, and SHE had a pencil to draw hers out first. Meticulous little lines. Step by step. HE watched her every move and applauded her technique. Me?I was slapping paint on left and right. I tried to paint notes, but they didn’t look right, so I painted over them.

Nothing looked right, so I slapped on more paint. And more paint. And more paint. Good thing it dried quickly.

But SHE was really making me feel like that total geek-clutz-dork-goof ball I tried not to be. And HE, her date, boyfriend, or significant other, whatever, was critiquing her every brush stroke as if she were the next Van Gogh.

“Do you think my penguin’s foot is too close to the edge? Should I bring the other one down?” And he came back with some artsy, fartsy detailed description of what she could do with her brush. Yeah. Good thing she didn’t ask me.

I just slapped on more paint. When I finally did all I could do, I had to get out of there.

I wanted to exit gracefully, but I never do anything gracefully. My purse got caught on the chair, and I dragged it across the studio to the register. At least I didn’t break my plate.

The girl looked thankful I was leaving. “Christmas eve,” she said. “That’s when your piece will be ready.”

I hated to leave it, truth be told. Despite how ugly I felt my pitiful attempt at painting was, I had done my best. I hated to leave it in someone else’s hands.

But on Christmas eve, I traveled back to the Boro to pick it up. I prayed that I for once I would not make a spectacle of myself. Everything else had gone wrong during my first-time painting. When I got out of the truck, I was careful not to trip.

But there was one problem. I was so nervous about not coming across as a total doofus, I went into the wrong store—the painting store, not the pottery store. I was so confused. Nothing looked the same. And there wasn’t any pottery anywhere. Well, duh. At least the lady working there didn’t catch on to my faux pas. I covered myself and asked a genuine question that I really had been pondering for some time. When do painting classes begin?

I found my way to the pottery store, and without further incidence I picked up my piece. I had to face the same girl, but she was sweet and told me I wouldn’t be so nervous next time.

At least I didn’t drop my plate before I made it back home.

Sure, it’s not a masterpiece. The paint isn’t even, and the guitar looks as if a toddler painted it. But I accomplished something. I overcame my fear. I had a little fun.

So what is it that YOU are putting off? What are you afraid to try? I challenge you to take the first step for the new year.

Tell me about it.

Pottery 2012 004

These are a few pottery pieces I made from scratch when I was in high school

and during my first years teaching.

Pottery 2012 008Pottery 2012 007