Believe it or not, I have some words of inspiration to plant today. Of course, I’d never classify my writing that way but I reckon, every now and then, I can dig in my memory bank and draw on some moments that’ve pushed me to move beyond where I was.
You see, last month, I was telling a friend how I made myself into a better student. No, I wasn’t in the slow group. I was a selective learner. You know, tuning in to what interested me. I found that remembering facts from a book was too overwhelming for my brain. Therefore, History was just above Math (which was dead last) on my list of favorite subjects. But when I was in 8th grade, I was tired of ‘C’ marks. Know what I did? I started lying to myself, which became my way of attaining something I wanted.
Not only did I lie to myself, I lied to the smart kid, who I told every day before test time that I’d score higher than he would. Oh, he didn’t discourage me. In his nerdy sorta way, he told me to bring it on. I did. I never beat his scores but I went from being a ‘C’ student to a ‘B’ student in History. That I’d challenged him pushed me to study and those facts that pretty much dissolved as a result of studying to get by were embedded more easily in my brain when I actually put forth a good effort.
I told another whopper with painting. I studied graphic design, basically, computer design software. With that, I took foundational drawing classes, art history and so on and so forth. The one time I had picked up a paintbrush, I was in high school. It was a picture of a clown I composed. The colors were flat, unappealing and left me unenthusiastic to ever paint again. I gave up that easily, never to pick up another canvas to paint on until 2001.
You see, I composed with graphite (basically, special leaded pencils), and then went on to pen and ink and pastel (very pricey colored chalks). I was so anal in detailing everything and this is what I did well. I stuck with it. It was safe. There came a time when I began copying popular paintings with pastel for a couple of folks. I sold them cheaply ’cause I was not the original artist, nor was I using their medium. I wasn’t past my fear of failing if I picked up the paintbrush again until one guy showed me a painting in a magazine he wanted in oil. With a tiny bit of hesitation, I told him I could do it, ’cause I wanted his money and yes, I did paint it exactly.
A little more time flew by. I’d say a year or two. I had fallen back into pastel and graphite to create; that comfortable place again. You see, I didn’t believe I’d done that painting for that guy but I later realized, at some point, I wanted to sell my work. I went gallery hopping and a little gallery framed up my work, pastel that is, and sold the pieces real quick-like. I was beaming! Who ever thought? Then I told myself, “If you’re gonna do this art selling thing, you’ve gotta paint.” I looked at hundreds of paintings online before I even had paint supplies. The more I looked, the more I convinced myself that I could paint. I started out with the artists I studied about and was later all over the internet. So again, I picked up the brush and from that moment on, I was a painter.
There are other experiences I could share with you good folks but this is enough, I think. These two experiences are what I have to keep in mind when I’m doubtful of treading new territory. Sometimes I forget ’cause I’m human and basically caught up in my shit. As you can see, the images here are pretty horrible but this is where I came from. Back when I drew these images, I had no imagination, which means I couldn’t create from my own mind. I refused to call myself an artist then but a copyist. I hated the label I’d placed on myself but it’s what I was and I wouldn’t fake it ’cause I didn’t see getting past it. Today, I’m far beyond that place and I don’t mean that in any way to sound arrogant. I can show you so many more bad drawings that would prompt you to ask why I didn’t give up. Well, I also had a mother who constantly showed off these horrible drawings to people and made a big deal over them. Sometimes, I’ll look through those drawings and think how delirious she must’ve been.
Sticking to what’s safe is nothing more than fear. You just never realize how much better it can get until you step out. It’s akin to living a partial life. I think that’s why so many folk crack up in middle of their lives. Men go out and get toupees and shit. Women start dressing like their daughters…
Many of us are striving toward something. Yes, I quite enjoy deconstructing human nature at its core to show us in our most unflattering light. Excuse me as I disrobe and throw shit from the closet. I’m human, however wicked my mind charges and runs in a direction not always intended. So… I’m not all the time crazy. At least, not today. At this particular moment. Now, tomorrow? Hmph…
Thanks for dropping in, folks. Happy New Year!