The WIPS are coming along fine, but it is raining today, which puts me into an introspective mood. SO no photos, you get to sit back and listen……OK, well, read, LOL. Even though it is very tempting to curl up with a good book, I was just reminded to tell my story. Sometimes when looking at an artist’s work, you may be tempted to think that the artist is blessed with an abundance of talent that you are lacking. That is one idea that I would like to challenge. ANY thing we do is built up by knowledge and practice. Some may learn quicker than others, and some may need more practice than others, but drawing and painting are learnable skills built up by practice. Part of today’s blog is a repeat from a previous blog, but, it is one that bears repetition.
Flashback – First Grade…….I am standing in front of the room, my teacher has called me up to hold a coloring sheet in front of the class. She explains to the class how messy it is and that it is an example of how not to color. She calls up another student to stand by me holding up her coloring sheet and explains how neat it is, and what a good example it is of how to color. I went home mortified, and learned from this incident that I had no talent for art. SO, I did not take art in school, being one of the “untalented”.
Flash forward ………..forty three years. My wonderful neighbor, Shirley Bennet, has just given me a gift of a watercolor painting of my Blue and Gold Macaw, Loki. I am thanking her profusely, saying all of the things the untalented say…… This is beautiful, I cannot even draw a straight line, you are so talented, I could never do anything like this. Instead of saying “Thank you” for the compliment, Shirley looks me in the eye and said, ” Arlene, you are one of the most creative people I know. DO NOT tell me you cannot do this. Go home right now and draw something and bring it back to me. So I do. It surprises both of us, not a masterpiece, but it has potential. Shirley insists that I should go out and take some drawing classes, so I sign up for a drawing class at Glendale Community College.
Now this sounds like the end of the story, but it almost became the beginning of NO story. As you can see if you do the math, I was 49 years old. And if you think about it a little, you can imagine the doubt and self talk that went on. On the way to the first class, I almost talked myself out of going to class. “What am I doing, going back to school at this age? Everyone will be young and I will feel awkward, they will all have had classes and be good artists……..” As the doubts grew, I almost turned the car around and went home. Luckily momentum had the upper hand, traffic was heavy and I continued to class. Upon walking into the classroom, it was amazing. The students ranged from high school graduates to a 79 year old. Many of them were also beginners. And when the teacher, Darlene Goto, walked into the room, she said “I don’t know what talent is, all it takes is hard work and practice to draw…..this is a pencil. I knew I was in the right class.
The rest is history, inspiration from my own flock, the volunteer work at Liberty Wildlife, and organizations like Bird Endowment, the Oasis and The Alex Foundation have helped me develop Passion, Purpose and Power (as Carole Hillsbery says) in my painting.
Thanks to a wonderful neighbor and a fabulous teacher, I have been able to pursue a dream which I thought was beyond my ability. I grew up with the idea that all of the arts were talents, and that I was the untalented. It never occurred to me that most activities have a learning – practice period. That you don’t just start “drawing, painting, playing a musical instrument, photographing, or acting”, these activities must be learned and practiced. SO when someone tells me how talented I am, Shirley inspires me to look them in the face and say………………
SO……… go………follow your dream………..the only thing holding you back is your self.