I spend a lot of time in areas that seem like wilderness, although they are only minutes from civilization. Nature inspires me, as you may have noticed if you’ve ever read my poetry. I think it’s very important for the human spirit to acknowledge what is beautiful in the spaces we see every day, taking time to explore new spaces as well.
I don’t consider myself an artist but am moved to paint from time to time. The last art class I took was in 8th grade, but don’t quote me on that. It was whenever the last mandatory art class was in school. My problem with art is that I rarely ever finish a piece – much like my old “novels” written in notebooks. The creative process goes like this: oh! I have an idea for a painting. It’s going to be really cool and fun and people will want to hang it over their toilets. I sit down at the canvas. I arrange my blobs of paint on a palette (I dislike using anything other than acrylic, which either makes me a snob or talentless…maybe both). I splash some lines and swirls on said canvas. I am intensely engaged for a few hours, not eating or drinking and barely breathing. I eventually decide I must eat and shower and sleep. Next day, all of the inspiration and gusto has left me. Canvas dries. I stash it between the wall and a bookshelf. Or in the back of a closet. I become very busy with the dozens of other things going on in my life.
Each time I have moved residence, I carry these unfinished canvases with me. I guess I have a tiny bit of hope that I will go back to them one day. I try to keep them hidden from the people helping me move. If they happen to see the paintings, I make lame excuses about why they are half finished. That? Oh, that’s just something I did when I was bored. I usually follow with nervous laughter and snatch the painting away.
So it is with pride that I announce, in the past two weeks, I have finished not one but TWO artsy things. Victorious! I have to give credit to a good friend of mine, who first dragged me to “Wine & Canvas,” where an instructor forces you to complete a painting in an allotted amount of time. But it’s supposed to be relaxing and fun because there are adult beverages and good food. Most everyone there is a novice painter, and the idea is that you will have a beautiful finished product by the end of the session, no matter how terrible you are at art. I had a lot of fun and felt more accomplished than I should probably admit without embarrassment.
The second artistic thing I completed was thanks to the same friend. Two years ago, at a spring festival, there was a vendor selling fish art. This friend expressed some interest in purchasing one, but they started out at $45 and went up with size. I said, offhandedly, “I can make that for free.” In typical Noony fashion, two years later, I came through. I am notoriously bad at gifting, especially this time of year. For one thing, I don’t like spending money. Secondly, I never know what to get, and I have ridiculously high standards for making the other person happy with whatever I buy. Is there even such a thing as a “perfect” gift? But it’s true what they say – give from the heart. My friend loved her fish.
DW would like everyone to know he helped in the making of this palm bark fish. I found the wood months ago, near the beach. I cleaned and scrubbed it with a wire brush. DW spray painted it with primer, and I did the rest. I used acrylic paint, of course. My friend is going to hang it over her toilet. Dreams do come true.
A day after I gave my friend her present, I was at my company Christmas luncheon at Olive Garden. Our server walked by as I was showing my coworkers a picture of the fish, since none of them had any idea what I was talking about when I said, “I stayed up until midnight painting this fish out of wood.” She asked how much I would charge for a smaller version; she wanted it for one of her son’s Christmas presents. I have no idea how much I would charge, since I’m not a professional artist. I said I would give her a call once I figured out if I could get it done before Christmas. Afterwards, I realized a very important lesson – the type of palm bark (which I guess is technically a stem or petiole) needed doesn’t occur everywhere. And actually, the one I found was in rare condition. I will probably end up telling the nice lady it can’t be done in time, but to keep me in mind for his birthday.