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.
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.
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.”