I fancy myself an artist. I know that must sound silly, because I don't paint or draw any more, but once upon a time I did. Coming from someone who is, generally, pretty mercilessly self-critical, I'd say that I wasn't half bad at it, either, and it was something I was passionate about. I used to smoke cigarettes back in those days, and I remember I'd say that art was the only thing that could make me forget to smoke. It was something so fulfilling that it makes me absolutely shake my head, and I can't understand it myself, that I let it go for so long.
I used to draw constantly. When I should have been doing other things, I'd draw. I drew on any available surface. I drew on things that I shouldn't have been drawing on. Everything was begging me to draw on it. Everything needed embellishment. I couldn't even write a sentence without drawing fancy letters. I always had a pencil with me. Always. Drawing was something I thought about continuously and did whenever the opportunity presented itself. When I was out, I doodled and sketched and looked forward to getting home to work on something there that I was drawing. It was something that I could get completely lost in.
I also dabbled in oil paints a bit. Unlike other mediums, I instinctively understood the way oils worked and loved to mess with blending and the way I could manipulate the colors until I achieved the effects I wanted. The smells, the feel, the way my whole mind would get involved in my artwork: I missed it all terribly! I didn't even realize it. I let life, kids, work, and a lot of poor decision making processes push it further and further away until I no longer remembered that I could do it at all. How sad.
It was difficult to find a place to do anything in among the debris of a busy life, let alone get my art supplies out and try to get involved. Even if I'd gotten them out, I reasoned, I could never get enough time all collected into a block to warrant dragging it all out, so I couldn't get inspired, let alone involved. Someplace along the lost path I threw all my art into one drawer in my head and decided that if I couldn't find room to spread it out and time to let it set, that I couldn't do it at all, so why even bother. I talked my brain into believing that I couldn't do it anymore.
DECADES passed. Decades.
Then one day I was assessing things. I was counting my blessings, being deliberately thankful for the things the Lord has blessed me with, when I realized He had blessed me with some measure of talent to draw. If this was true, then I was really neglecting it. I couldn't excuse that. I may not be the best, but how will I know if I don't work on it? Why would I have a talent at all if not to use?
All at once it dawned on me; I can still do it. It's in me. Pencils and paper don't require a lot of space or time. Now my problem was a sort of strange fear. It had been so long that I wasn't confident I could do it any more. I made a lot of terrible arguments from lack of subject matter to not being able to think creatively anymore, so for another lo-o-o-o-o-n-g stretch I couldn't make myself start anything.
Then......... I decided to start drawing again. Actually, I did better than that; I DID start drawing again. I swallowed hard and put my pencil on the paper. It was almost heart stopping. I can't explain it. I was afraid, excited, embarrassed and maybe a little bit sad, I may have cried, but I decided to override all the nonsense that kept me from it all these years. If there was anything to it, the talent part, I wanted to jump in there and find out.
I have to admit, my first attempts aren't good, but I can feel it coming back to me. I know I will be able to do it again. It was a great, great feeling. I wasn't swallowed up in it like I used to be, but then again, I was so nervous-- really nervous. I was sketching and doodling, just to try to get the feel for it again, and I was embarrassed at how bad it was. Of course, my family wanted to see, but I didn't want anyone to see it yet! I think when they get used to seeing me draw the novelty will be gone, and then I can get comfortable with it. I believe when I am eventually inspired to draw something 'for real,' I'll be quite absorbed by it again. I feel right there on the edge of it.....
I am back on the horse. Thirty-four, thirty-five years? That's long enough.