After weeks and weeks of design work and months of doing what had to be done in ife it seems that things are finally turning a bit. Three new commissions came in this week and I got a call tonite from a reporter in NYC that wants to interview me. I think I finally have a place for my Big Dog Show too and that REALLY excites me. I just found out I got into the Decatur Arts Festival and that I was one of about a 100 picked from 450 applications. Good things. After a pretty rough winter I am more than ready for Spring and new beginnings.
And I found myself smiling more this past weekend than I have in a really, really long time. And it was really, really nice. I was excited and more inspired by life than I have been in a while. Hoping for many more smiles to come.
I have been really busy the past 3 weeks. Lots and lots of design projects which mean not so much time at the studio painting and LOTS of time in front of a computer. But bills need to be paid so computer work it is. And besides festival season is upon us and I will be back to painting all the time soon. Seasons for everything. And to digress a moment…CAN I BE MORE EXCITED IT IS OFFICIALLY SPRING!? Yes, I shouted that. In my head. For real. But anyway.
While I have been very busy with design jobs I did manage to get to my children’s career day at school. They booked me all day long and I talked to pre-k up to fifth grade about my art. What a treat. It was so wonderful. The kids really seem to love my art and hearing all about making a living as an artist. And yes, I told them that to make a living from art means working just as hard as any other profession. It doesn’t mean just sitting and drawing all day long. Ahhh, remember when you thought that? The good old days… But back to the story. I told them how you get an idea in your head for a book all the way to getting it to a publisher for consideration. I showed them my dummy book. And I read them my story. Now, my kids have read my book. And family and friends. But never alot of children at once. I figured it was a good test audience. And the coolest thing happened. I got a gleeful, giggly response with every turn of the page and illustration from the 4 year olds. Then when I read it for the fifth graders I got exactly the same response. It made my day. Then when the reading specialist at the school picked it up and told me she thought it was fantastic, well I could have possibly floated out the window. The kids asked wonderful questions about how I got started, how long I have been drawing and what art school is like. I told them that being an artist is in your heart, not on some degree (but still emphasized the absolute importance of education) One little boy raised his hand and said, “I know you! I’ve seen your art in a store! You’re famous!!” To which I responded, “Oh, no I’m not fam…Why, yes. Yes, I am!” (hee.)
Later when school was out and I was in the hall kids of all ages came up and hugged me and told me how much they loved my art. One little girl wanted my autograph. Another little girl came up to me and said, “Before today I didn’t think I was an artist, but now after meeting you and hearing you talk, I know I am.” Ummm, I think my heart might have exploded from joy into a million little pieces right then and there. I don’t think I’m so scared to get these book proposals out anymore. What an amazing day it was.
So I am sitting with my laptop in my dad’s nice big ol’ comfy we don’t have kids that ruin things anymore leather chair and watching the Smurfs on their gigantic screen we get every channel on the planet because we don’t have kids anymore tv. Of course after all the money they spend on their grandchildren (ok, and thier kids) it’s a wonder they don’t live in a box…but I digress.
I am watching the Smurfs. I have not had cable in 5 years now. This stuff is still on???? I remember watching the Smurfs with my sisters on Saturday morning when I was my son’s age. Next is the Storks. Then the Littles. (Oh how I LOVED the Littles!!!) One by one my childhood keeps popping up in front of me. And my kids think I am so coolio because I know all the names of the cartoon characters and storylines. But then a minute ago Sophie gets me with this zinger: “Mom,” she says very matter-of-factly, “In your times were these all black and white?” I felt coolio until about a minute ago.
To anyone else it might have just been a squiggle on a paper. But to me it was accomplishment and beauty. I could have framed it. I stared at it. It was in that moment in time all I wanted to be.
I was in art school. It was my first life drawing class. I swear I woke up giddy each day because I got to create each day. I was SUPPOSED to do this. I can’t begin to explain how much I loved art school. It goes down as some of the best days of my life so far. I had to fight to be there. I was supposed to be finishing my last year and a half to get my physics degree. And like the good little girl I had always been since 5, I dropped out, moved home and faught for my right to go to art school. So, it was so satisfying to be there every single day. Creating. Learning. They were amazing times.
But, back to the story. Mr. Pashley. Oh my. He was yummy. He was older. He had premature grey hair. He had a thick, thick scottish accent. Oh what a crush I had on him! Now add to all that that he was the most talented artist I had ever met. Truly. He was amazing. And. He would tear you to pieces. He held nothing back in a critique. If he told you your assignment wasn’t completely awful you floated for days. Most days though, he told you your art wasn’t fit to be seen. That you should be embarressed to have brought it in or to have shown it. Now yes, yes, I know what you are thinking….”Oh my! That certainly isn’t a very good way to encourage an artist.’ But what can I say, his technique worked. All you wanted was this man’s approval. I stayed up later, worked and reworked drawings. I cried over it, I sighed over it, I worked my ass off for his approval. And let me tell you, when you put your piece of paper up on the wall and he looked it over staring at it silently-all the while holding your breath- if you heard, “Finally, someone is taking this seriously. Very nice Ms. Nelson (maiden name). Better than the rest of the rubbish up here on the wall.” Well, for that moment you thought you could might actually make all this happen and not be poor the rest of your life and prove to your parents you were actually not making the biggest mistake of your life. It was magic.
But the squiggle….
So there we are in life drawing class. Some model in front of us. And I am sketching. I used to have this habit of reworking the lines to death. I sketched too dark. I couldn’t capture the line very easily. I wanted to get it just right. And it came off looking way too over worked. Mr. Pashley would come over. He would tell me to look. Look for much longer than you sketch. See the line you want to draw. Study the muscle and the curve it creates. Then put it on your paper. Oh. Oh. Then he did it. He drew the shoulder I couldn’t quite get on paper. I watched him look. Look. Look. Then in a moment he set the lead to the paper. It took a moment. Then he walked away. I stared at the pencil line. It was thin, then thick, then thin again. It was one line. Not sketchy and broken. One perfect line that made a man’s shoulder. It literally took my breath away. It was so beautiful. That is what I wanted to strive for. Occasionally in a sketch or a painting I get the line right. I get the nuance of it. I capture the subject somehow with the emotion of the line. Honestly, it does not happen often. But this morning in a sketch of a tree and a chair on my balcony over coffee, I did it. And it filled me up. Gave me hope that maybe I am not in entirely the wrong profession. And it made me think of the man that taught me creating is not just inspiration but hard work and pushing yourself. And that sometimes not completely awful can be a very big compliment in the right context. This morning I was not completely awful and it has made my day.
I spent the day obssessed with lines. I ended up painting three new paintings. They are my contribution to
Go here to see the new art:
I am a terrible dog owner. Why would I do this to poor, sweet Rufus? But doesn’t this just make you laugh??? It even made Lucy laugh! Ok, yes, I have too much time on my hands apparently….