cactus flower

Shutting the door, Leaving it unlocked

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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.

Chipmunk, Medicine Wheel, Wyoming

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.

Aspen Alley, Wyoming

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.

Alpine flowers

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.

Aspen nursery, Southern Wyoming
Antelope mom and baby, Yellowstone, Wyoming

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.


    1. Thank you for your thoughts. I’m very much a process person, and I think you’re right. That’s where I need to focus in the creative world.


  1. This post was so descriptive of me that it caused me to shudder. I think I am the only person in my family without any graphic artistic ability. (I wondered as a child if my parents had adopted me and never told me the truth). For art class in the fourth grade I painted the picture of a tropical bird from a photo in National Geographic. When it was finished it looked like a Picasso – from his “Drunk and Disorderly Period”.

    Your writing is evocative, clear and it engages the reader in a very comfortable way. You have certainly found an expressive niche – and if we can’t be “Jacks and Jills of all trades – it is better to be the master of one.”


    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I can relate to your Picasso episode! I’m continuing to write, just because I love it. And maybe that’s the biggest truth of all. Doing it for the love, not the skill or the definitive final project, is what a “calling” is really about. Thank you for helping me to clarify my thoughts.


  2. I appreciate the talent you have for putting words on paper in such a way that they make sense and speak to mine and other’s hearts. Keep writing please.


    1. Thank you. It doesn’t feel like a talent to me — more like a compulsion. And I always worry that my words don’t connect with anyone but me. Thank you for helping me to see things from your perspective — and for your kind words.


      1. Those of us who are writers are not just creative and talented, we also write because we are compelled to do so. I write because I have to and it sounds like you do the same. I encourage you to not sell yourself or your “talent” short. I have a feeling your writing connects with a lot more people than just me.
        As an aside: I do understand what you’re saying and where you’re coming from. I have TOO many of those days of wondering if anyone is hearing and connecting with the words I’m putting on paper.


  3. I agree with Kathryn…let your creativity be your guide. Doodle when you feel like doodling, weave when you want to weave. Also, although some people are just naturally talented, I think most have to practise, practise, practise.


    1. Yes, you’re right. I just need to be prepared to practice a lot, rather than expect something I like right off the bat. I suspect that I’ve had really unrealistic expectations. Thanks for the good words.


  4. God gives you the talents you “need” to survive.

    Talented people “need” tools.

    Those without, are the well-adjusted members of society.

    Few people know this. Few understand it.

    The people with “talent” aren’t as well-adjusted as you are.

    Hope that makes sense.


  5. You are an artist already. You paint with words. It takes an incredible amount of skill to paint pictures in other people’s minds with words. Don’t sell yourself so short.



  6. I loved this post. As I read it, a million thoughts raced through my mind. Among them:

    One of my favorite Beatles lines: “I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping / Still my guitar gently weeps.”

    I don’t believe that time can be wasted. If it feels like something you want to do, then do it.

    I once told a therapist that I want to be a writer. The therapist asked me if I write. I told him that I do. “Then you’re a writer,” he said.


    1. Thanks, Paul. If that is true, then I am a “doodler” rather than an artist. I’ve been afraid to really try anything like art, but I am an avid doodler. I started because it would keep me awake during otherwise boring meetings. But, I’ve found that I really enjoy it. There’s no pressure though, because i never keep them.


  7. This was a very moving post and one that speaks to my heart. I often feel the same way, but if I did not create because there was someone better at it than me, then I would never create at all. The act of creation is important… what someone else is creating is not, unless it inspires you. Making art feeds the soul, taking simple joy and pleasure to bring a vision to life. Artists labeled as Masters now, were laughed at and shunned in their time… but they kept making art. Create because you want to. Create because it makes you happy. Create because you are giving your daughters an example to follow. Create because you want to be remembered. And if you ever, ever, have questions about tools or materials for making art, please ask. I’ll freely share whatever I know.


    1. Thank you. I agree, that just the act of creation is beneficial in and of itself. I realize that my desire to have a finished product that I’m pleased with is a bit vain and perfectionist. I really want to try some paints later this year. I appreciate your offer as a resource; I’d like to take you up on it later, when I’ve finished what I’ve got in progress now. Have you ever been to Meiningers, whenever (if ever) you visit Denver or Boulder? For the artistically inclined, it appears to be a religious experience.


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