This trait reared its ugly head this past Sunday during my final art class. The concept was a painting that evoked winter or Christmas. Since I’m not a big Christmas person (you can pick up your chins off the floor now), I chose Winter Solstice, deciding on a snowy scene with winter sky, rolling, snow-encrusted hills, a frozen pond and – here’s the kicker – quaint, almost cartoon-like houses.
My houses looked a little like this, but worse.
The process went smoothly through the hills and over the pond, and then it came to the situating and drawing (in pencil) of the houses. I used a card as inspiration – they looked a lot like the tiny, colourful houses of PEI. I had planned include the cute elements of a bird bath and a clothing line of socks and underwear. I would have fit on Nona’s brassiere if I had the room.
I must explain that I’m not good with drawing. It doesn’t look life-like; often it’s out of proportion and doesn’t even slightly resemble what it’s meant to be. A bird bath? It’s a big circle resting on a cylinder. It looked more like Alexander Graham Bell’s first attempt at a telephone receiver.
But I soldiered on, painting the structure of the houses, windows, walkways and even that much-anticipated, frozen clothing line. And then it was time for snow. And sparkle. My art instructor ensured me that I was just missing this magic element – I couldn’t see the forest for the trees – it would all fall into place.
It didn’t. The houses looked juvenile and out of place compared to what I considered a really good backdrop of snow drifts, hills and pond. There are some 5-year-olds who, I’m sure, could have done a better job.
Why couldn’t I just spew forth a masterpiece as easily as I do with the written word? But, I had forgotten all of the not-so-pristine articles, stories and poems I had written to get to this point. I had forgotten the practice sessions. And I always do.
I’m going to borrow from that great wordsmith Emerson again with a quote that I stumbled upon: “Every artist was first an amateur.” It’s amazing I can be inspired one minute by this quote and then, relating it to my life and my abilities, throw it out the window and have myself a good old temper tantrum.
Robbie, bless his artistic heart, tried to bolster me. But I didn’t need bolstering. I needed to hear those words from Emerson: “This is your first time doing detailed work. You don’t have all the techniques yet, so stop your sniveling and get on with it.”
I’ve already warned Anasatan that this no-so-masterpiece will be her gift. From me to her. The PEI houses, no matter how juvenile, reminded me of our trips out East. I’m just glad the actual houses were not built by 5-year-olds.