To paint or not to paint?

Still Life
I can't recall a time in my life where I wasn't doing something creative. These days, it tends to be more "arts & crafts" with my Scouts, than "fine arts".

I took my first real art class when I was about 4. I learned calligraphy with my mother at our favorite local art supply shop. I couldn't print very well, but I could write elegant letters with a pen and ink. Well, "elegant" for a four year old I suppose. I don't think any of my work survived. 

Many years (and a few classes) later, I started college. Funny thing was, my mom had been attending classes at the same college since I was 12. All of the instructors knew me and mom pretty well and for some reason, they assumed that because mom knew what SHE was doing, that I must automatically know too. Perhaps it was my familiarity with the various mediums and technical terms, that made them think that, but after listening to mom "talk shop" for eight years, I picked up on a few things. That didn't mean I knew how to center a lump of clay or etch a steel printing plate. 

I found myself reminding those instructors that "I'm not mom" when they expected more from me than I produced. I had to remind them that it was my first time taking a drawing class, despite the many hours that I sat for mom while she drew picture after picture of me...usually sleeping or laying my head down. Sitting for a drawing does NOT teach you how to draw, it teaches you how to sit still. To me it seemed that because my mother was a talented artist, I was expected to be as well. 

So, do I consider myself an artist? No, not especially. I consider myself a person who has been taught to draw, paint, throw pots, make prints, etc. Can I paint? Sure, anyone CAN paint. Am I any good at it? I suppose so. 

When people see the paintings I've done, I'm often asked why I'm not painting and selling my work. Well, that I can tell you...lack of purpose. I was taught to paint to fulfill an assignment. "Paint this bug" or "Paint this still life". I don't even know what MY "artistic style" is. When I was taking classes, I was always told exactly what I was expected to accomplish, and I did it. But on my own, what do I WANT to paint...I don't know! I have NO CLUE!!! If I'm going to create a painting to sell, I have no idea what someone might WANT to buy. I just can't imagine anyone but my mom or maybe my sister wanting to even hang one of my paintings. In fact, the only reason I hang them is because I don't know what else to DO with them. I don't see any of them as finished. As are most artists, I'm my own worst critic. 

When will I start painting again? Hmmm, I suppose when I finally get to retire from Scouting, my house is all clean, when my "to read" list is all read, the good movies are all watched, after I've caught up with all my dear friends, when I've walked the dog and scooped the cat poop, when the stars align just so and when I finally have the confidence to put my heart and my work out there to be loved or hated for what it is. 


  1. I want to learn to paint. I used to draw and loved it....many years ago. Enjoyed your post. Made me think about all of my own reasons for not just doing it. Hmmmm.....

  2. Thanks, I'm glad I could give you something to consider. Putting all these thoughts to "paper" really stirred up my desire to start painting again. Now to get things moved around so that I can! :D

  3. It's hard for me to think of art as a commercial venture. I want art to MEAN something, or make me FEEL something, and I think that's a bit odd to the instructor of the class I'm taking who is fine with it just being "pretty". I can do pretty and sometimes it's fun to just do pretty, but if pretty doesn't make me feel something, I end up bored and dissatisfied with what I produced. And like you, I can't imagine someone other than my mom hanging one of my creations on their wall!


One from the Vault