SHHH!!! It's a secret! I don't have an artistic bone in my body...no really, I cannot draw...not even a little bit. I am reasonably decent at craft work, but an artist I am not. This is a pretty heavy admission of guilt for someone writing a blog about art on a website dedicated to her own artwork. But it really is true.
I always wanted to be artistic. I had a friend in elementary school, Amber, who was incredibly artistic. Her work was always being entered in some district or state competition, being used for some PSA campaign to stop smoking or buckle your seatbeat, or being displayed in the big glass cases in the school's front office. Amber was the sort of girl who made others feel inadequate: she was smart, talented, pretty, and nice. I felt lucky to be her friend so I dared not try to compete with her artistic ability or her in any way. I laid the notion that I could ever be an artist of any caliber aside and focused on other school subjects. I enjoyed art passively over the years by visiting museums and appreciating other artists' abilities.
Until I met Made (pronounced Madee). Made reminded me alot of Amber, but she was a strong girl. Made was beautiful, smart, a good writer, kind, compassionate, quick-witted, quirky, funny, a fantastic artist, and Made took absolutely no sh!t from anyone. Seriously! No one in the entire world was going to rain on this girl's parade. And I adored her for every one of her quick-witted, brilliant come backs.
I met Made the year I turned 30. I was wearing a heart monitor, I had a major surgery, my work life was stressing me out, and I was very distant from my family. Thirty was a hard year for me. But there was sixteen year old Made sitting in my English class, slaying everything! And I found myself back in elementary school thinking, how could I be more like Amber. But this time, I wanted to be more like Made.
Instead of being intimidated, I started to look to another female as a role model. Instead of just thinking my smart alec come backs, I said them--unapologetically just like Made. Instead of making excuses for my short comings, I owned them and wore them as a badge of honor. Instead of making excuses about why I didn't know things or couldn't do things, I figured them out for myself. If Made could do all of these things at sixteen, surely I vould do them at thirty.
Watching Made grow as an artist was the most fulfilling thing for me though. I watched the art projects she brought into my class. I asked her questions. She didn't have the words to explain what she did or why "it worked," but she tried to talk me through technique. I would go home and try to replicate her work, but I was rarely successful. One day, staring at a sobbing wet paper, thinking, "if this would just dry quicker, then it would work," I realized Made worked in water colors, but I was meant to work in acrylics! It seems such a dumb realization now, but that moment clarified everything for me.
Amber was good with pen and ink.
Made was good with water color.
I was good with acrylic.
We are all artistis in different ways.
My life up to that point had been like trying to walk in shoes that were several sizes too big or too small with people ridiculing me for always tripping over my feet and falling on my face. Yet when I became inspired by Made's tough, sarcastic, self-reliant attitude, I found my artistic skill.
Man! Where would I be today if I had been inspired to be happy in my own skin at ten instead of thirty? Where would I be now, if at sixteen I was hal as strong a woman as Made was at that age?
Bottom line: Life is hard! You can whine about why you aren't Mufasa or you can own up to being Scar and plot to overthrow the kingdom. Sure the coupe might get you killed, but at least no one will accuse you of being a whimp or not claiming your own destiny.
As an artist, I'll never have Mufasa's greatness. But I'm ok with that. Because I'm tough. I have good ideas. And I go at the world on my own. I might be smitted in the process, but people are going to know I was here.
Thank you, Made, for inspiring me to roar (as an artist and a woman).