While growing up, if I wasn’t taking art classes at a local gallery, I took an art class at school. Art has existed in my life in one form or another, and I’ve grown to look at art as something that’s comfortable to me—it’s something familiar that’s been by my side for years.
I also always loved the arts and when I was younger, I wanted to master drawing, dancing, music, and acting. Thus I attempted all those areas before realizing that visual art was something I didn’t get too discouraged with – I could keep at it. The other areas of art were another story.
In preschool, I took ballet classes. I specifically remember having too much stage fright that I refused to dance at a recital the class held for all the parents. Eventually I danced for a couple of seconds when my mother bribed me with a Slurpee. The problem with dance was that it didn’t feel natural to me. I also didn’t like dancing in front of others, which automatically made me check off dance from my list of creative paths to pursue.
For several years I played the piano. I also picked up the cello briefly in elementary school, but got tired of practicing two instruments. I was also pretty scrawny back then, and my cello probably looked a lot bigger than me. For some reason my peers thought the cello was just a thick block of wood and that I was ridiculously strong for my size. Although I played the piano for seven years, I eventually quit – I didn’t have that passion that drives a musician to learn, practice, and keep trying until she gets it right.
What was next? How about acting? I took acting classes at a local theater when I was in high school. I enjoyed the whole experience – the bright stage lights, putting on stage makeup, the fun costumes, and memorizing my lines until I got them right. I had a blast with the whole production. The problem? I gave up too easily when I realized what I looked like on stage. One of the actors in my group invited us all over to his house after a play. His parents had taped every show he was in, and we watched previous plays we had been in together. I sat there horrified when I realized how terrible my acting was. I swore that I would never expose anyone to my acting again.
Then there was writing. I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. In elementary school, I carried around little notebooks that I wrote stories in. I was determined to write a complete novel by middle school. When that didn’t happen, I swore I’d finished my first novel in high school. I kept starting stories then getting tired of the direction they were headed in.
I thought I was determined to become a writer, but then I decided to major in English with a concentration in Creative Writing in college. And now, since college, I haven’t written anything since my final Creative Writing class senior year. The writing workshops had sucked the joy of writing from me. It had been a painful experience of students tearing down every piece of writing that was workshopped. By the end of a workshop, I had no idea if I was doing anything right and felt like my writing wasn’t any good. The passion that was once there had faded significantly.
Although I’ve experienced many areas of the arts and gave up on different creative paths, I didn’t give up on the visual arts. I fell into my passion with art in college when I decided to pick up Painting as a second major. Since then, I’ve become more determined and persistent with my art than ever before. Those other areas of the arts that I dabbled in were missing my drive to follow through with them. I was easily defeated and gave up when I deemed them “too difficult.”
Visual art hasn’t been easy either, but for some reason I never wrote it off as being impossible to do. Over the years, I’ve practiced my craft. When I’ve had difficulty drawing something, I’ve kept at it until I’m somewhat satisfied with the result. I can get incredibly discouraged with my art, but I’ve never given up on it completely. I think that’s because I can’t imagine what life would be like if I didn’t make art – that’s not an option for me, “not to make art.” I simply make it, have to make it. It’s something that’s been ingrained in my mind and daily routine.
I’ve chosen art because it’s something I need in my life. It’s hard to explain to non-artists out there, but I know you can understand if you’re passionate about something in particular. If you love to read, or write, or watch movies, and you simply can’t get rid of any of those things from your life, then that is precisely what art is like for me. I can’t imagine ever giving it up. I’ve done it for years, I’ve grown up with it, and I’m terribly curious to see what direction it will take me in next.