Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Finding Myself When I Knew Who I Was
Through Facebook, I got in touch with a friend from high school. I always remembered what she wrote in my yearbook - she would look forward to reading me in the New York Times. Well, that didn't exactly happen (not, yet that is!). In her note to me, after all these years, she remembers me as an artist.
Most people that know me today know me only as a writer, not an artist. My whole life I described my hobbies as "reading, writing and art." Actually, I was torn between art and writing, but I felt the urge to write was stronger. About 10 years ago, I decided to focus on my writing. And, once I got that going I'll go back to art. I'll take some courses, learn the proper way to water color, understand concepts. In my cubicle, I do have one of my watercolors hanging. I painted that in 1996.
This is not to say I haven't done anything creative - loved doing craft projects around the house. However, I haven't sat down to draw or paint. Now, my daughter is quite talented in writing and art. I'm blown away by her skills, especially at this age. Seeing her passion for drawing reminds me of the way I used to be. (Side note: there is a significant art gene in my father's side of the family, as a number of artists pop up among the cousins. Unfortunately, we don't have a strong math gene, hence the Kumon classes.)
Recently, a group of us started an arts & crafts group. This would be an excuse for the girls to come together once a month, sit and chat and do something creative. (I have to thank N. for taking the initiative to do this). She got simple wooden plates from Ikea, and we painted them in rangoli style. We didn't have time to do the details, so we took it away as homework. I got a white pen and would do a row or two every night while watching TV or talking. It was just soothing and it was a lovely distraction. The funniest part for me is that I noticed I was biting my bottom lip. When I drew or painted, I would always bite my bottom lip - it would be numb and/or swollen by the time I was done! Not only is art a soulful activity, there's a physical sense to it!
Here are pictures of the plate, and I'm still adding details. However, there has to be a point where I step back and stop. I'm going to move on to making some more plates/coasters.
More than having a pretty object, I'm really pausing now to think about who I was and who I am. Why am I not painting regularly? Well, technically speaking, I barely have time to write. How would I possibly paint? Row by row, perhaps? We've all seen Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture" video, and he talks about going back to your childhood dreams. I definitely didn't imagine myself doing what I do today when I was kid (Actually, I couldn't have imagined this when I was 30!).I've wanted to be a poet since I was 8, and I'm still trying to get that going. I knew myself as an artist and it got lost in the shuffle of life. So, let's see.. maybe this is the next phase of finding yourself. Going back to when you knew who you were.