An Artistic Life
How little torn pieces of paper, swirls of contrasting color and random marks gave me a new outlook on life.
I have always considered myself a creative person and thought that art would be a part of my life and career, but feelings of not being good enough and constantly comparing myself to other artists held me back for years. In the spring of 2020 all of this changed. When our world was gripped by coronavirus it seems that art was begging me to be found once again.
"That's what I love about art. The way it can conjure up memories or even become the memory itself.”
I think I get my artistic side from my mother. I remember her being pretty good at drawing, but she also was DIYing way before it really became a thing. One of my favorite things she created was a corsage for my sixteenth birthday. Sixteen sugar cubes brushed with what looks to be a brown eyeshadow and each one twist tied onto a decorative straw coaster that laid perfectly on my wrist. Literally one of the sweetest handmade gifts I've ever received, and 30 years later, I still have it tucked away in a chest with other childhood memories.
That's what I love about art. The way it can conjure up memories or even become the memory itself. Like the quilt I created with my Girl Scout troop - each of us designing and making a square. As their leader, they gifted the finished blanket to me for my first child. More than a decade later my daughter, Emma, cuddled up with it in her crib and later had tea parties on it with her dolls.
But when it came to making my own art, I often hesitated to share it. An art major in High School, I was good, but never as good as some of my classmates. I didn't know then that with practice, you actually get better. I also couldn't (and still can't) really grasp the color wheel. I took to sketching and charcoal drawing only because I did not have the patience to practice and would get easily frustrated with the mud I seemed to always create. In college I took graphic design because it was "clean" but after my first internship, decided that I did not want to put my name on someone else's vision. So, I tucked art away and pursed a communications career. It was much easier to tell others my vision and pass on the pressure to make it come to life.
“...somehow all those little bits of torn paper, swirls of contrasting color and random marks made me think of my life...”
Fast forward to 2020. Over time, my career shifted from event planner to broadcaster and I found myself exercising my creative side more in words than in painting and drawing. Then our world changed. Covid hit New York hard. I lost my job and suddenly found my mom duties grow to not only teacher and activities coordinator, but to spirit lifter as well. That's when I rediscovered art.
Several years prior, a friend of mine invited me to come to a mixed media collage class at her home. She was really getting into the mixed media craze and her work was just wonderful. Of course I thought I couldn't do it, but I took the class anyway. I learned to create texture with molding paste through a stencil, use household items to make unique marks and to not worry so much about planning the perfect color combination...most of all, I learned that we all have an artist in us. I couldn't get over how different all our collages looked, but they were all beautiful in their own way. Just like each of us as individuals. It may sound a little strange to compare a collage to life, but somehow all those little bits of torn paper, swirls of contrasting color and random marks made me think of my life - imperfect and sometimes a little messy, but beautiful nonetheless.
With the time the pandemic suddenly provided, I remembered that class from so long ago and began to discover my artistic side once again with two very willing students. The three of us began a summers-long journey of cutting, pasting, painting and exploring everyday. We'd challenge one another to use only certain materials, we'd encourage one another to step outside of our comfort zone and we'd applaud each others' work...building memories, learning new skills and gaining confidence along the way.