Tuesday, February 7, 2017

My adventures in art

I don’t even know when my yearning to become an artist began. Was it when I first discovered van Gogh and wanted to paint with his kind of abandon? Was it when I first saw Japanese line art and thought, 'wow, I need to learn how to paint that'?
All I knew was that I wanted to be an artist and I needed to learn how.
Then, I had art class in high school and I hated it with a passion. My highest rated artwork was one that the teacher drew most of. Instead of teaching me better how to draw horses, he drew my horse and then gave me an 8/10 for the art.
I decided I wasn’t an artist.

Years later I went to a local community center for an art class. It really wasn't inspiring. The only discovery I made in that class, was that I adore drawing with pen and ink.
The teacher said, “It appears this is the only time I have seen you, at least in a small way, enjoy making art. Are you sure you want to do this?”
I knew she was right.
I decided I wasn’t an artist.

Cut to many years later, I was in my 40’s. I decided, after a long long time of not making art, that it was time to really learn the tricks of the trade.
I went to an art class. In the first lesson, the teacher said that she was very strict and prided herself on the fact that she chased students away for not listening. In the sixth lesson or so, the teacher yelled at me for fucking up an assignment.
My husband picked me up that night, I sat down in the car next to him and broke down in tears.
I decided I wasn’t an artist.

Cut to some years later, I sat down with a pad of paper and a felt pen, and I made art I really, really liked. It was abstract, it was colorful and it felt like it came from a place deep within me.
Creating these artworks are like breathing, like a meditation. They happen when I allow myself to go to a place deep inside myself.
It becomes where I live. It is where I exist, in the depth of that pen on paper, swerving across, bringing peace from my heart into the world.
I have no idea if what I do warrants my calling myself an artist, all I know is that creating my art brings me tremendous joy.
I also notice that when my words fail me, my art is always present to speak for me.
And maybe that is why it is most important. Because to me, writing and creating art come from the same place within.
I once told my husband that poetry is painting with words, and art is poetry in paint. It feels natural for me, that way.

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This work by Sylvia van Bruggen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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