Saturday, November 5, 2011

like a letter from a friend

I came across these words today, and they resonated so strongly that I couldn't help but feel moved to say what I'm about to: 

I want to be an artist.

There, it's out. The dream I shelved for (what I told myself were) practical reasons a few years ago hasn't gone away. In fact, it's like this pulsing, nagging, growing thing inside me that refuses to be ignored.

Have you ever read the book A River of Words? It's one of my favorite children's books, telling the story of William Carlos Williams through simple, imaginative prose and wonderful mixed media illustrations. A few years ago, when the book was up for a Caldecott, I had the opportunity to meet the writer, Jen Bryant, and illustrator, Melissa Sweet, at the American Library Association National Conference. 

A river of Words

Watching Melissa sign my book, I thanked her for her work and told her just how much it meant to me -- and then I started to cry. I couldn't seem to help myself! The pictures looked so much like something I might make, and there was this tiny voice in the back of my head saying it's not too late! even though I felt like I'd largely abandoned my artistic self long ago. And then Melissa started crying and took my hands and was like, Why are we crying? And we laughed and shrugged and moved on.

It was such a strange, dizzy moment. 

I could still cry, thinking about it now. I know exactly why I let that artistic voice get so small, tuned it out for so long. Why my major morphed from Art History and Textile Design to Philosophy to Humanities, to, finally, Education, and it wasn't for "practical reasons." 

When I peel away all the surrounding noise and excuses, I'm left only with this:


A little demon nestled in some deep down dark place, one I've been sure to feed.

Now I'd like to give that little fear-demon a giant smack in the face. 

No, I'm not about to quit my day job. (For one thing, I kind of like it, and it's also paying the bills. I just don't necessarily want to keep it indefinitely.) I also think I need more time to....marinate. Yes, I want to be an artist -- but what does that mean? What type of artist? Do I go back to school? If yes, where? How? etc. 

Those questions don't have ready answers just yet, but for the time being, I do have a place to start:

Andy and I are heading over to Abu Dhabi Pottery today, where I'm hoping to sign up for classes. Since what I'm most nervous to try is throwing (using the potter's wheel), I'm thinking that's exactly what I need to do. Especially since it relates to the second item on my list. Which also happens to be where the blog comes in: For my next few posts, I'm going to write about whatever sticks out in mind as something I absolutely shouldn't reveal. Those shameful, embarrassing but truthful stories that I'd rather suppress as soon as they bubble to the surface? Yep, writing about 'em.

And finally, something I've always known I need to do more of, is sketch. I've avoided it in recent years because I've felt so inhibited, like nothing I could put on paper would be good or matter. Even when alone, just me and a pencil and paper, I'm worried about what others will think. So, right-left-kick, I'm gonna sketch like a madwoman.

Here goes nothing. (And everything.) (Or at least something.) (In any case -- onward.)

Special shout out to Pugly Pixel and Fuzzimo, where I get my free vectors (i.e., the notebook paper you see in the above images, as well as the polaroid frames, masking tape, etc., you've seen in the past). Katrina's tutorials at the Pug are also amazing, which is how my computer-illiterate self was able to create and code my sidebar.