While my grandkids were delighted to see snakes (not me), heron, turtles, dragonflies, and hawks, I was thrilled to see ponds with water lily leaves surfacing. As I took photos of the landscape with wonderful reflections, I reflected on my own artwork.
|See those red leaves poking up? Waterlily leaves!!|
Like so many, I dabbled in all kinds of art media, always being told to experiment, try new stuff, combine media, abstract it all, but my heart was always in watercolor painting and fabric. I set those aside for working in graphic design/advertising and then teaching public school art. I amassed an arsenal of different tools and stuff, but when I had to retire from teaching, I ran to watercolor and quilting. Slowly, all the other media stuff is being given away when I can find it a home. What was it that stopped me from pursuing what I really love doing?
Some was my reluctance to really put time into learning techniques, design and developing the craft. In art school, any type of realistic or development of drawing was disparaged. It was all about "making marks" and using as many different media as possible and leaving the work open to chance, interpretation and galleries. Teaching things like value, composition, and color were "too limiting" and "constricting". While just teaching those things can be deadening, I need a foundation to create on, and then creative process can happen.
Ok, so I left school not knowing much and had to work to educate myself with art books and workshops (no youtube then). I sketched when I saw good compositions and art to figure out why it worked. I had the brain of an artist, but none of the skills. Over the years, I have worked hard to get them and wanted to teach them to kids. However, the prevailing philosophy is don't put effort and time into working through the "boring stuff" but to go with feeling, intuition and art being "therapy". If it doesn't work out, then you have no "talent", so go on the computer and copy and paste and throw every software option in. And if the first thing you do isn't frameable, it is not worth the effort.
I think I work harder on techniques, elements and composition the older I get so I have the skills to do what is in my head but has to be translated out through my hands. My observation and persistence continue to increase. And so, my art is closer to what I think it should look like. I keep taking painting classes and quilt workshops to gain another piece of the puzzle.
Also, I was too concerned about doing something commercially viable. For all the work I did in graphic design, and all the money I spent on computer equipment and software as it became computerized from the 80s on, I never made much after paying the vendors and the bills to warrant all those hours and crushing deadlines. I was able to pay for the kid's activities and that was about it. When I taught public school, with the prep for 6 different grades a day and hundreds of students a week, teacher products, meetings, and mountains of paperwork, I never had the time or energy to work on any art.
What if I had spent all that time and energy seriously painting and quilting? How much of a body of work could I have built and how far could I have gone? Could I have gone past the tipping point and done truly outstanding work and inspired others?
Those are questions that I can't answer. But this I know- I can work hard now and use all I have learned to work as an artist. I can put the effort into sketching, planning, designing, observing, finishing and thinking about what I am doing. For me, this isn't hobby- if I don't create, I am weak and sad.
Even if I never sell a thing, I will create a body of work that is positive and growing, as long as God gives me breath. I want my work to be a reflection of what is beautiful and worthwhile, regardless of what is in fashion or cool. Last February, I was spared from the consequence of a heart attack. Every day is a precious gift.
What about you? As you look at reflections, what do you see?
|See the painted turtle?|