Creating an art blog--sounds pretentious. Sounds dangerous. It seems it's been so long since I indulged in thoughts that were just mine and not about work, my husband, my children, my house . . . even when I do, I feel guilty. Always there are other things I "should" be doing, and even though I give the advice to others all the time that it should throw up a red flag if you hear yourself saying "should", I find that I don't really have any idea how to do that myself. I don't give myself permission to do that. For me, it seems a character flaw to do something for myself rather than spending all day, every day, doing something for everyone else.
Do I have the luxury of stopping to think about these acts of creation? Isn't it terribly self-indulgent? And yet my husband has no problem saying "I want this" and making it happen. Why can't I do that? Two things seem to be coming together here--I just read The Pull of the Moon, by Elizabeth Berg, and I saw the title "Confessions of a Reluctant Blogger" online for the next issue of Artful Blogging.
It has been such a revelation to me that I can do anything at all worth looking at. I was nearly 37 years old when I found out that I could in fact make “crafty” things that I thought were of acceptable quality and looked “handmade” rather than “homemade”. Never in my life did I think I had any skill or talent for that whatsover. But I can read, and I can follow instructions, and I am meticulous with my craftsmanship—and over time, I am finding, just as with anything else, when exposed to something constantly, you learn how to do it yourself. It’s not a mystery after all. And now I am lost with delight in all the things that surround me at my area—the beautiful colors in the inkpads, the beads in my bead boxes, the marker sets, the colored pencils, and the beautiful artwork on the rubber stamps. Sometimes it’s a little overwhelming that I have gotten so many things so fast, in less than two years, but it’s so exciting to me that I can make something worthwhile. It’s still quite a step from following instructions in a book or recreating something in a magazine to designing my own ideas, but this year I have started to do that, and I find that they are actually not bad.
The hard part is that to design something myself requires some personal involvement. I have to think about things I haven’t thought about in years. I have to express an opinion of my own—do I like it, all by myself? Not would my mother approve, or what would my husband say, but do I like it? That’s a scary question to answer, and I hate it that it is so. On the other hand, at least I’m discovering that at 38 and not 68. I guess I have always sought someone else’s approval, never brave enough to say with any degree of truth, I like that, and I don’t give a shit if no one else does.
And yet here I am, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of a highly esteemed honors undergraduate program, unable to do this? Oh no, that won’t do. No matter how hard this is, I am going to do it and do it well.
Figuring out what I like
So, what am I finding that calls to me? Collage images, always. Old-fashioned advertisements, like seed packets covers, ads from old papers. Maps I have always loved, especially the ones with dragons drawn in the seas. It turns out I really like architectural elements and images, and I love the stamps of women’s faces—the elegant, mysterious ones. I love the illuminated alphabets—the intricate detail and the sometimes fanciful illustrations. Children’s alphabet tiles I also like (even as a child I loved the Edward Gorey alphabet and had a poster of it hanging in my bedroom).
I like glass—slides, vases. I like the Krylon leafing markers. Printed vellums are beautiful—many, many papers out there are beautiful. I love the way fluid chalk looks on cardstock—warmer than permanent ink. I love nearly all the metal embellishments—pictures frames, bards, charms, beads, bookplates—all of them!
One of my biggest struggles is that it’s so hard for me not to line things up perfectly, to chase after symmetry, because the things I love are off-center, overlapping, running off the edge, yet it’s so hard for me to do that myself. I need to relax, loosen up. Have I always been like this?