Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"If I was a painter...

...and could paint a memory." Painter Song, Norah Jones.

I call it "sharpie art." The comics for my office, the multitude of shirts that I've turned into "statements," and doodles of everything I see and imagine (most of which ends up in the garbage because it doesn't meet my standards of approval), all these things done with scrap paper or an old t-shirt and a sharpie, always black. There's something about the fat sharpies that let me draw so much better than with any other instrument, save pencil for some subjects. I have better handwriting in sharpie too. In fact, one might even say, the sharpie is my muse. I get a fair to meddlin' (as grampa would say) result from pencil also.

My favorite is trees. I could draw trees all the time, to the exclusion of almost everything else. (Except perhaps cats.) My best picture ever, and the only one I ever kept with the intention of NEVER throwing it away, was a picture of that winter scene around the lamppost in Narnia. The first instant Lucy saw it, before Tumnus, before the snow melted, before she was scared or really understood what was going on--that moment of peace before the adventure really got going, with the drifting snow and the trees--some friendly, some on her side. A blanket of snow softened the otherwise harsh and jutting bare branches of trees and bushes, except for the evergreens which kept the forest dark and enclosed. And a soft glow of light emitted from the lamppost. That was in pencil.

The other set of pictures I won't ever throw away is of Tex, my late cat. I drew a few pages of him in various poses, sleeping and looking quizzical and playing and sitting and looking at me. He as sitting on my bed and kept being so darned adorable that I pulled out my drawing pad for the first time in years and I spent an hour or two just sketching him in pencil. He was very picturesque. As it turned out, it was about a week before we found out about his cancer, and another week or two after that he was gone. Silly, it's been over a year now, and I still can't pull out that notepad and look at them yet. I expect they aren't very good, but it was a last "golden moment" with him, and I treasure it along with a few other golden moments. And it was some inspired drawing, like my lamppost picture, which somehow escapes my cold harsh judgement which raineth on the righteous and wicked alike.

There's also one more or less decent picture of the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge, TN, which I sketched and was rather pleased with. Also pencil--or maybe charcoal, I forget. Rough, but it got across the idea.

Other than that, sketches (like this one) are more or less worthless. I think perhaps this in a watercolor would be pleasant, but I haven't tried watercolor for, oh, years.

Other things which are more or less amusing though not particularly good or important are the comics I draw at work--little stick figure and bare bones deals which document some of our office adventures. They turn out quite well, considering that they are spur of the moment doodles. But then, those are sharpie.

All this does have a point, believe it or not. It is not merely a list of the "artwork" (if I can call it that) that I haven't burned or thrown out in fits of anguish that I'm "not good enough" (for what?) or that it "doesn't look right." Even as a little kid I would wad it up and throw it away if I didn't think it was good enough. Which meant, of course, that I never produced anything in particular, because it was never good enough. My mom was so frustrated sometimes, she just wanted some simple, childish pictures. But I wouldn't give her anything less than my own idea of perfection. Which meant, of course, that I never gave her anything at all. In fact, although I've spent many, many hours of my life drawing, painting, and sculpting, I only have three pictures I'm willing to keep.

It isn't only with pictures and artwork. I have the same attitude towards other things too. Exercise, for example. I have the impression that I ought to at least be capable of running a mile without dying of whatever you die of when you go running and you're an awful runner and out of shape. Or swimming--not only ougth you to not look revolting in a swimsuit--any swimsuit--but you should also have some basic capability of swiming besides the dog paddle. Or dancing--it should not be painful to watch, preferably it should be decent, if not amazing. But it takes working up to that point, and I don't want anyone to see me trying till I succeed. Piano or voice or guitar or any of the other multitudenous things I've tried--don't listen, watch, speak of, or acknowledge the existence of my hobby until it is somewhat in hand. Unfortunatly, most of life includes an audience when you have a family, such as one of which I am blessed. And they will be encouraging and brag about me, whether I deserve it or not, and then I get so mortified that I refuse to touch it again.

I've gotten a little better. I play three songs on the piano now, for any occasion which calls for it--Fur Elise, a grandiouse and fascetious version of "Old McDonald," and the ditty Marianne plays in Sense and Sensibility called "My Father's Favorite" which I figured out myself. I learned how to belly dance on my trip to Africa (by force), and I have slowly worked my way up to running barely a mile without absolutely dying. And I can play guitar for people to sing along with now.

So progress is happening, but I still just simply don't like to perform without lots of rehearsals and at least a very good script. Unfortunately, my life did not come with a script.

I know I have gifts. I don't know why I can't seem to use them. And why I keep ending up doing things I'm no good at, don't enjoy, and only cause other people to have to fix my mistakes, since I'm completely helpless in these areas.

But I did keep those three pictures.

How ironic.

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