Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Frustrated artist...

I have always wanted to be an artist. Not that I have any great talent or training to overcome my lack of it. But that has never quelled my desire to do something artsy. Over the years I satisfied this desire by trying different crafts and art forms. I tried sketching...but stick figures somehow didn't fit my desired image of an "artist". Hah! I showed less promise than the average 1st grader.

Then came oil painting with a friend. She was pretty good and I was less than adequate ... er...I had no skill there at all except for blending colors on the pallet. But I did manage to make a mess of a couple small canvases before giving up and tossing them into the trash.

Then came painting statuary in the 70's. You bought molded pieces and painted them...I actually did pretty good on that one but how many painted plaster pieces can one home hold... and why? ...they were not exactly great works of art. The phase passed and I moved on to sculpting with clay.

Clay sculpting was a true breakthrough for me. I bought a 50 pound brick of porcelain clay and had a wonderful time creating several pieces. I felt wonderfully artistic as I worked the clay into my vision of the statues I wanted to make. And much to my surprise they actually looked good! The pieces were never fired. First of all, I didn't have or have access to a kiln and second, I didn't know how to properly remove the air pockets from the clay so that they would have no doubt exploded if I had tried to fire them anyway.

That led me to an art class at the local Jr. college where I was taught the basics of working with clay and actually fired one piece. It was a billy goat and I was very proud of it. It made it through the first firing and then vanished. I suspect it got knocked down and broken but no one ever admitted to it. I did get an A in that class but was not able to return the next semester.

Next came a doll making class. You selected a mold and type of clay and the instructor poured it. From there you cleaned the green ware. My problem here was wanting to make every detail perfect. This left tiny doll fingers and toes too well defined and fragile so that they broke easily. The dolls came out ok but the hobby was too expensive to pursue at that time and molds just didn't suit me anyway.

Over the years I tried tile mosaics, latch rugs, embroidery, crocheting, sewing, quilting, photography, carving, and even writing. I completed 3 books that were so bad I never let anyone else read them and destroyed them after reading them through myself. Some things I just burned out on and others, like sewing, I had to stop because of carpal tunnel.

Then the computer came into my life and along with it there were photo programs and web building programs to play with. Software became my passion. And gardening became my favorite interest off the computer. Then one day, while chatting with some true artists on a forum, I commented on some lovely silks one member showed pieced together and how it would make a wonderful wall hanging. She sent me a box of the silk scraps and my desire to be artistic returned.

I didn't want to sew or quilt. I wanted to create a mixed media collage. I played with several designs on the computer and changed my mind at least a dozen times before settling upon my final design and getting to work. As the design emerged and shifted I felt wonderful. Manipulating the piece into my vision. . . Artistic! And when it was finished I picked up some scrap wood and began to make a frame to suit my project. I like the process of sanding the wood, staining it and using power tools to make a frame for my piece. When I finished it this morning I hung it in the living room and set back to admire it. It isn't perfect. I can see ways to improve my next piece. But I like it. I am proud of it. I am an artist at last. Not a great one but an artist none the less...and it feels good!
The feeling of pride in my own achievement is wonderful. I don't know why it has taken me all these years to enjoy it. I have always been my own worst critic and never really allowed myself to feel good about my efforts. But suddenly, I can say it and feel it. It would be nice if others like it too but even if they hate it or think it is worthless because I like it and I feel good about it. It is mine.