Those Who Can’t Draw, Take Heart.

All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
Pablo Picasso

I am sure Pablo would have made an exception upon meeting me when I was a kid.  It was bad.  It was awful. Looking back, I shudder.

Things were fine when I could just drag out the crayons and do my own thing.  Then people started with that whole “color in the lines” bullshit, and that’s when life started getting complicated.

All the art talent ended up within Older Brother #1, so I had to lag three years behind the reincarnation of Rembrandt while all I could offer were my lopsided clay pots and tissue paper flowers that barely stuck together with Elmer’s glue. I did go through an interesting art period through most of elementary school called the “Dog with People’s Faces” phase and was teased mercilessly because of it. Who knows if my parents still have any of the originals, but I can replicate my work pretty accurately.

Dog with People Face

So, all mammals’ limbs were basically platypi tails. True story: it was around this time that my elementary school art teacher, Mr. Kelly, quit his job and opened an aerobic dance/exercise studio. To this day, I am firmly convinced it was my artwork that sent him over the edge. You have to admit…a picture like that would make someone crack enough to wear leg warmers. At least, the connection makes sense in my mind.

So message received loud and clear. I sucked at art. I held my nose and pushed my way through the American educational system’s mandatory art classes. I learned to appreciate art as an observer, but not as a participant. Meanwhile, I remained envious of the people who could participate and participate well. I wanted to be like my big brother and still do sometimes.

But something interesting was happening of which I wasn’t aware. If I couldn’t resort to images, I could resort to words. So I would hide in our basement and scribble out my musings in my notebooks. (Hey, Mom and Dad! Now you know what I was doing down there all that time. I was writing.) And I started sharing those words with my group of friends by the time I got to high school. To my shock, they liked them. Whoa.

And what was even better, art was an elective, so I didn’t have invest any more energy into pencil drawings of bottles, so more time could be spent on words. Happy dance!

What I am basically saying is lack of talent in one area only gives you more time to pursue your talents and interests in other areas. It’s not a shortcoming within you, if you can’t do something well after giving it a fair effort. I know have to keep reminding myself of this all the time because I still slip into the envy trap sometimes. However, I get the feeling I am not the only one.

And the best use of Elmer’s glue is to let it dry on your hand, so you can peel it off. Hands down.

21 thoughts on “Those Who Can’t Draw, Take Heart.

      1. Um, gee, I guess so. Back before the dinosaur was invented and I was doing pasteup for a small magazine, it involved rubber cement. Industrial quantities of rubber cement. And we scootched up the extra (which would otherwise attract dirt and turn into dark lines and smudges) with rubber cement pickups, as we called them. I guess we could’ve called them rubber cement boogers, but damn, we were trying to sound professional.

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  1. Your art work is better than my efforts, Karen. Bravo. I also had to suffer through shop classes with similar zero-talent results. Ugh. Thank goodness for writing — and my ninth-grade English teacher who finally convinced my father that my talent in it was shining enough to offset the other stuff. 🙂

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    1. Shop class. In my school district, boys and girls took shop and home ec, so I would have been a slumlord to an unfortunate bird who took residence in the house that I built.

      I am so sorry you could commiserate, Mark, but having a teacher who believes in you opens up the sky in so many ways. I am so glad you had that difference in your life.

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  2. It’s my philosophy that if you have a strong talent (like you obviously do with writing) that it’s only one branch on a tree full of talents! ‘Tis true…you may not be an artist….however, “dogs with people faces” might go over well now with the strange art cultures out there…..you never know!

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