Last night I finished a piece of art and the joy I felt when I realized I was finished was like.... wow, I didn't realize it would be so hard to describe.... it just bubbled inside. It's pure sensation running through my veins. I'm still feeling it. I felt it when I was still lying in bed waking up. There's energy in it, but not uncomfortable restless energy.
For many years my finished pieces have been few and far between, which is a grief to me, because the peace I feel when I'm engrossed in drawing something that I know is "working" is so wonderful beyond description. I am sucked in and almost oblivious to the world around me at times. Last night after I finished this latest piece, I was in a great deal of pain. I don't know if it was from the barometric pressure, or what, but I hurt all over. The great thing was that I still had this bubbling joy inside lifting me up and making the pain less painful. So much of the time lately I feel like pain absorbs my whole life, my thoughts, my actions, everything. The only other thing that displaces it very effectively is good in-depth conversation.
When I was a kid, I wasn't the kind to hide a book inside my school book. I was more likely to hide my drawing in there, or under it, so I could slide the book up and draw. I liked coloring well enough, but most coloring books offended me, because they were so simplistic and poorly done. Dad had an over sized color book with beautifully done wildlife pictures and That was the ultimate in coloring. Very few of the dime store color books measured up to my standards. I started tracing horse pictures from Marguerite Henry's "Album of Horses" illustrated by Wesley Dennis. Mom had a lot of onion-skin paper from somewhere and I used lots of it for tracing. That tracing really taught me a lot about form, I think. I don't know what age I started drawing, but I don't think I was more than 5 yrs old.
I drew and doodled so much in those days that I took it for granted. I didn't have a clue what it would be like to be without that outlet. Mom told me I'd been given a talent and I should not waste it. I took her words to heart, but still have had many years of not using it, for one reason or another. As I got older (still at home) I found a few different avenues of artistic expression. I never could paint with acrylics to save my life, but I did play with watercolors, colored pencil, and scratch art. I even made Alyce's birth announcements (or at least some of them) by drawing baby animals on card stock. I wish I had pictures of those! I wish I had pictures of so many of the things I drew, though I do have a fair bit saved.
I'd never seen, or heard of, scratch art as a "real" medium, but I discovered it by scratching out doodles on the side of an ancient refrigerator we used in the barn. I noticed that I could do three layers of color on it. The top layer of paint was so old it was chalky white, the under layer of primer was a very pale bluish grey, and of course under that was metal, thus three colors. I drew first with a pencil, then used a nail and a bent paring knife with a short section of serrated edge, while the rest was regular knife edge to etch out my drawings. Those little pictures were probably 3 inches or less and I did a pile of them on the side of that fridge. I sure wish I had that piece of metal now!! I also wish I could recreate that sort of surface to work with. I still have the knife I used.
So why have I spent so many years barely touching pencil to paper? Well, there are many things I've lacked that used to give me inspiration. When I said I wanted to be an artist when I was a kid, I was told all of the reasons why that wasn't practical and all those reasons made sense. I figured I'd never be able to "make it" as an artist, so I looked at other stuff. I've wondered why I was given such a talent, if there wasn't any purpose for it. I've also wondered how I could use this to glorify God, when none of the things I draw seem to particularly pertain to God. As for that though, I'm realizing more and more that the talent itself glorifies God and was given by Him.
What are the things that used to feed my inspiration? I've thought about that a lot and here are a few things I've come up with. As a kid, I had family and people at school who gave me ideas, challenges, and an audience when I wanted it. I hated anyone watching over my shoulder, but I did feed on their input when I asked for it. Sometimes the "constructive criticism" hurt like crazy, but it also helped me improve. The encouragement I received certainly fed my love of art! I had plenty of good places to draw with good lighting, though I did work without outside light often enough. I had lots of books and animals and nature around me to draw from. Looking over all of that and considering the affects of it all, I think the main thing I've lacked is what I got from the people around me; encouragement, ideas, challenges, even criticism.
A few years ago when I turned out some of my best work since being an adult, the main contributing factor to my inspiration was working with Boo and having feedback from her and others at that time. I didn't work very often in good light, or with any great work area, so the encouragement and feedback were the biggest things. Right now, having just finished a piece of scratch art that I'm Very pleased with, I've been absolutely CRAVING some kind of input on the finished work. What possible good is there in art, if there's no one to appreciate it? I intend to give it as a Christmas gift, but without any feedback on whether or not it's "good enough" that's going to be hard to do. I look at it and am extremely pleased by what I see, and yet I have this niggling thought at the back of my mind worrying about my own objectivity.
I can always find many faults in my work and I have to tell myself that if I don't call it finished at some point, I'll end up ruining it. I both value and devalue my work. On one hand, I know I was given a talent and I think it would be false modesty to say otherwise. On the other hand, I tend to think that nothing I do is ever truly good enough. I give it very high personal value, but doubt it's monetary value, should I try to sell it. I did sell one small piece of scratch art for $60 a couple years ago, but I have always wondered if it the charity of a friend. Not that he showed any interest in the rest of what he saw, but self-doubt is strong. Probably what I need most to do is forget the "self" part and remember the God given talent part.
I keep considering selling what I do, whether on Etsy, or somewhere local, or whatever, but I can't seem to work it all out. I wonder if I've ever really prayed about that..... I pray a lot about a lot of things, but I'm not sure if I've prayed about selling my art.... need to think on that, or better said, just pray on it. I want to make prints and try selling those. I really don't want to give the originals away too easily, except if I give them as gifts. Man! do I wish I had pictures of the ones I've given away before!!
Anyway, I ran out of steam quite some time ago and my mind has not gone back to more of this train of thought, so I'll leave off.