Artistic talent manifests in many different people in varying abilities and mediums. Taking a pencil to a blank page came easily for me as a young girl. I remember drawing farm scenes from Charlotte’s Web and underwater vistas usually featuring killer whales. What I don’t remember is when I decided that my drawing ability was less than worthless. Nevertheless there came a time before I hit my pre-teens when I stopped trying to create 2-D art and focused entirely on 3-D mediums.
Quilting, cross-stitch, jewelry, beaded critters and just about anything else I could get my hands on. I mixed my own dough and baked figurines to paint. One Christmas I constructed, painted, wall-papered, and furnished a “Barbie Dream House” for my younger sister. Driftwood, moss, shells and stones turned into elaborate fairy houses. For some reason despite all of that I never considered myself to be an artist.
My best friend, Lily, is an illustrator and painter of immense talent. She was my friend and my rock throughout the end of elementary and the entirety of high school. Yet I was always jealous of her natural drawing ability. I used it to my best advantage. Whether it was a group project or just a scenario of my own imagining, Lily was there to illustrate my words.
It was in high school that I found out that 3-D art had its own subject. My horizons were expanded as I voraciously ate my way through the curriculum. Clay, wire, paper maché, plaster, books, aluminium cans and just about any knick knack you can think of became fair game. Even after I did the two years of the class I still invaded the art classrooms during my spare blocks.
My art, each and every kind, took a big sabbatical from my life. College and then traveling left me very little time to create. I spent more time working on my writing than anything else. After half a year in Australia I caved. I bought a selection of coloured threads to make my new friends some bracelets and anklets. Soon I was teaching the girls in the hostel how to make them as well. We exchanged bracelets and I wore their clumsy first efforts with pride.
Since coming home from traveling I have re-discovered many of the things I used to love. Bead work, quilting, embroidery, knitting. And I found a new joy, the art of henna. I practiced on myself, my sister, my cousins, and my friends. The better I got at henna the more I found myself doodling again. Paisleys and mandalas, intricate flowers, peacocks, ravens, and tribal designs from the Pacific Northwest, Australia, Polynesia and New Zealand.
I still prefer 3-D mediums. I revisit an old technique or discover a new one each month. However I am happy to have re-discovered the joy of putting pen to paper. Having the confidence in myself to sketch out maps, create logo designs and play pictionary is a really good feeling. I still look at Lily’s work and marvel at her ability but I am no longer jealous. We each have our own strengths.
Learning to be happy with your own abilities is an important lesson. It took me traveling the world on my own to come to terms with who I am. Artist, author, chef, world traveler. You don’t have to go quite that far (unless you want to) but you should find something that you love to do and embrace it, no matter what your skill level.