On top of being other frustrated things (photographer, writer, etc.), I am a frustrated artist.
When I was in the second grade, one of the upper grade teachers, Mrs. Jamieson, came to my classroom and saw a picture I had painted. It was a picture of an airplane, painted on that huge blue paper with those awful tempura paints, but something about it made her think I had some sort of aptitude for art. Mrs. Jamieson was the resident artist at Center Street School and taught sixth grade. And she arranged it with my teacher, Mrs. Wilkerson, to have me come to her class weekly to make art with her kids. And she arranged that to happen for the next four years until I was in her class as a sixth grader. She was an amazing teacher. I have been trying to find her so that I can thank her for being the teacher who most profoundly affected my life. She was a strong believer in “divergent thinking”. (More on sixth grade and divergent thinking in a later posting.)
I continued to take the occasional artsy sort of classes. Jewelry making in junior high, color theory in high school. But never really did anything after high school in the art arena. After taking a few years off from higher education, in 1987 I returned to school attending Saddleback College in Orange County. I took all sorts of classes there that tickled my fancy…like Spanish, and Japanese, and Music Appreciation. I also decided I’d take a beginning drawing class. On the first day we had to draw a simple still life. I picked an old tea pot and a pump sprayer. And we drew in pencil. Something about that drawing made the professor think I had some sort of aptitude for art and told me “no matter what it is you are studying here, you need to change your focus to art.” I told him I was studying to be a nurse and hoped to someday take my nursing skills to third world countries. Looking rather crestfallen, he told me that this aspiration of mine was much more important than art, but encouraged me to continue to persue it as a hobby if nothing else.
One of our art projects in the class was to create something using the pointillism technique. That is where the entire work is done using dots. Our assignment was to do something in simple black and white. I found a picture of a handsome older gentleman in an ad for Dewar’s (is that whiskey?) and turned it into this:
And it sat, with all of my other projects from that class in a black cardboard portfolio for years. In the mid 1990′s I was working for a center that performed joint replacement surgery. We had an annual fund raising event which included a silent auction. I was asked to donate something for one of these auctions and I decided that it might just be the right time to see if I could fulfill one of things on the List of 50 and sell a work of art. So I entered “Dewar’s” into the auction and it sold, for (I think) about $475. Probably purchased by someone who thought it looked like their grandpa, but that didn’t matter. I did it!
The last work of art I ever completed was in that class, back in 1987. It was my final project, which when I turned it in, again made my professor sigh and wish that I’d take up art as a career. My project was a picture of my friend Kevin building a truss in the Philippines:
Lately I have been thinking how much I’d like to return to my artsy roots and start creating again. I have a project in mind. For Connie and Phil’s wedding present they requested that I create something for them. I never did. For months I have been thinking of creating something in Connie’s memory for Phil. And interestingly enough, on my last visit to California while out to dinner with my brother, he reminded me that I still “owed” him that wedding present and that he is going to hold me to it, even though Connie is gone.