In elementary school, I was proud of my childish artwork, but no one noticed it. Nothing got saved, or framed; I had no talent. Even now, as an adult, I feel frustrated at the beautiful compositions that I can imagine which my hands can’t execute. My handwriting is a joke among many, showing that I am intuitive, but imprecise. I just don’t seem to have the manual dexterity or eye-hand coordination necessary to draw or paint my internal visions. I shut and locked the door to my artistic dreams.
I enjoy photography, but a quick glance around WordPress demonstrates that many, many people are much better at it than I. Photography doesn’t require manual dexterity, though; just frame, focus, and click. My eyesight is sometimes iffy, but the camera can focus all by itself, so it overcomes that weakness too. I also have a tapestry loom and a yen for weaving. It is a creative outlet that doesn’t require the same level of manual dexterity as true art, but it is time-consuming and sometimes backbreaking. I haven’t gotten to the skill level required to get really creative with it.
Sometimes, though, I dream beyond my capabilities. Yesterday, I took my youngest daughter on her first shopping trip to Meininger’s, a premiere art supply store. It was overwhelmingly fun for her, not so much for me. I could see so much potential in the abundant tools of the trade – for those with the talent and skill to use them. I thought about buying some paints and trying out my luck, until I realized that I was too ignorant to make a good selection. Pastels, oils, acrylics, watercolor, or colored pencils? Natural brush or synthetic? What kind of paper? Brush cleaner? Palette? The selections were overwhelming and only served to prove my ignorance.
I’ve thought about taking some sort of art class locally, and I still may do that. But as I lugged around a basket of paints, brushes, and paper, I had time to think about my unfinished tapestry, huge stack of unread books, manuscript in progress, photographs that need editing and cataloging, blogs I want to read, tai chi and yoga classes I want to take, and that pesky job that sucks more than 50 hours a week. I couldn’t even begin to think of the unwashed laundry, vacuuming, dusting, sweeping, and mopping that I need to do.
Is taking up a new hobby really what I want to do? Am I inspired? Yes. Talented? No. Could trying a new hobby really be just a distraction that keeps me away from something I might be able to do well? I am so jealous of my two daughters who are artistically talented. They can bring their ideas to beautiful fruition, yet their desire to really pursue and hone their gifts wavers. They take their abilities for granted. Do I have some hidden ability that I also take for granted?
If I am brutally honest with myself, although I have a strong creative urge, my first love has always been words. Shouldn’t I focus on the creative endeavors that I love so much that it isn’t a choice – It’s a compulsion? I would like to try my hand at art, but perhaps I should apply my life to something that suits me better, and not fall for the lure of the distraction. I should just enjoy a place like this blog where I actually get to use an adjective or adverb now and then – a welcome change from the accurate and deadly legal writing that consumes a large portion of my work. Success in most areas requires not only the knowledge and skills of the trade; it also requires heart, inspiration, fortitude, and courage. Maybe my job has always been to provide the supplies and encouragement for my children to find their inner artists. Art found fertile ground in two of them, and the other two have, like me, found their talent elsewhere.
My daughter and I walked out of Meininger’s with a bag full of art supplies and my wallet significantly lighter. I shut the door on my dream of learning how to paint. But this time, I left the door on my artistic desires unlocked, just in case I decide to return.