In my Happy Things in my home post, I showed a picture of my favorite piece of artwork ever – the scratch board lion. A lot of you left nice comments about my lion and mentioned how I should do art again. I probably should do more art, but I very much have a love/hate relationship with art these days.
Growing up, art was my passion long before I became interested in creative writing. For whatever reason, I was slightly above average at it when I was a little kid. That turned into getting special attention from my elementary art school teacher, which turned into some awards at the state fair and all of a sudden I was a child artist.
My parents were super supportive of this talent, and kept me stocked with whatever art supplies I wanted within reason. They didn’t get upset when I ruined lots of clothes with acrylic paint, and they let me paint the walls of my bedroom in high school.
As I moved into high school, art became even more exciting because now it was a full hour a day, every day. I took every art class the school offered except for sculpture (I’m awful at sculpture). My senior year, I finagled the perfect schedule: 3 out of 6 class hours for art. AP art was a thing, and it padded my GPA for college in an oh so excellent way.
Generally I painted, sketched and crafted animals of all shapes and sizes. Some of my favorite works are sloppy acrylic messes thrown on giant pieces of cardboard. My senior year, acrylic became my favorite medium because I could be just a little bit careless and still mange to fix everything.
About halfway through high school, I decided I wanted to pursue some career in art. I had always been good at it, won awards and people told me they liked my stuff… so it seemed natural? Of course, something interesting started to happen as soon as I formally decided I wanted to go to art school.
It began as a murmur, but my wildlife watercolors and horse paintings weren’t enough anymore. I needed to be more outside the box! More abstract! More worldly! I started trying to shift from subjects I was comfortable with and reaching for the ‘painted artist”.
The problem? I’m not a pained artist. I never was. I like photo realistic stuff with a minor twist. I don’t want to paint a suffering swamp creature being tortured by today’s capitalistic society… but that’s what I started to do because I thought I should.
And the art got pretty shitty.
When I did end up applying to art school, I choose the NCSU School of Design. Growing up in Raleigh, I was born and raised with “Wolfpack in the house!” The design school had a great reputation, and it was an obvious choice.
I got in academically with no problem, and spent weeks and weeks pulling together my giant black portfolio stuffed with art. Everything the design school suggested you bring to the interview, I brought including graphic design, writing samples and photography. I busted my ass. I really, really wanted it.
So naturally, I bombed the interview.
Looking back, I think it roots back to a mix of me thinking I needed to be something different than what I was and the fact that I simply applied to the wrong major. I went for Fine Arts, where they basically told me in the interview that it should have been Graphic Design instead. Web design was still a pretty new thing back then, and I was one of the few high school seniors that had lots of design experience in my pocket.
I got into my second choice fine arts program, but I was so upset about the NCSU Design School rejection that I stopped art entirely. I did go to NCSU anyway, but majored in English and Creative writing. It took several years before I painted anything again, and I can count on one hand the paintings I’ve done since college.
At that point in my life, I wasn’t very used to being told that I wasn’t good at something. I didn’t handle it well.
Now, I totally get it. I was never an amazing artist. Never a prodigy by any means. Some stuff was nice, and some stuff was average. I don’t hold a grudge, but I do get frustrated because what many people don’t realize is that art is a practiced skill. I’m so out of practice, that it takes me a lot of time and effort to get anything half decent these days. Most times I pick it up, I get so frustrated that I immediately set it back down.
I can doodle a mean hunter/jumper horse during a long work meeting though 😉 Do you have any secret or not so secret talents?