I’ve never thought of myself as an artist, even though most of my childhood was spent drawing on things (including the wall) and coloring and drawing floorplans and macrame’ and crafts and such. My family was very practical and being an artist wasn’t practical, so I dutifully set my sights on other areas. Luckily, I was also smart and got good grades in school, even in math and science. For the first two years of high school I took art classes, then I settled down, made a few decisions and switched for the last two years and took programming courses instead. More practical – getting older and all that – and these kinds of smarts were certainly respected – yessiree. I still had fun, but this was USEFUL fun too. I was a programmer! Or rather, make that a Programmer, with a capital ‘P’.
So when I went to college, I majored in computer science. For two years at least, and then I did a flipflop of high school with a twist and went into technical communications instead – which was about writing and layout and graphic design and such. The artist within was getting some air play again – within reason.
After college, I worked five years as a technical writer, but in a small company, and with a group of other writers who weren’t programmers who wrote, but rather artists and writers who understood technology. So once again, I had both sides reasonably happy – I was making money, getting to use computers, AND being creative, within certain boundaries. I wasn’t necessarily a TECHNICAL writer – I was a writer. Yes, that was it.
Still, I wasn’t an artist. Even though everyone always came to us tech. writers for creative input. I could call myself a WRITER – that seemed somehow more acceptable and left brained. I could make money as a WRITER. But an artist? P’shaw. I knew people who went to expensive colleges for degrees in fine arts, people who could rattle off names and eras and painting styles and end descriptions in “esque” – they were OBVIOUSLY artists. Me? I wrote and painted and drew and took photographs and looked at things in odd ways and built strange contraptions and had weird ideas, but it was all just experimentation. I was a WRITER – yes. That I could accept. Artists were… well… yeah.
Then I quite my tech. writing job and everything went haywire in my life – good and not so good. I moved to new places and met new people and discovered more about myself. I did a lot of web design and email administration and site building and metaphysical article writing. I also did a lot of painting and playing with rocks and photography, and designing/sewing my own clothing, and graphics manipulation, and playing with wood and tools and such. The more I created, the more I realized how much more there was to create and explore, and the less interest I had in being a kind of ‘technician’. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that – LOL).
This morning I woke up remembering a dream. I was in ‘school’ and I couldn’t remember where I was supposed to be or what my schedule was. (This was always a stress thing for me way back when – after all – I always had someplace I was supposed to be, and someONE I was supposed to be.) Everyone had cleared off into their classes already and I was still in the hallway when a teacher came out from the nearby classroom. She reminded me of the woman who headed the technical communications dept. at college, only in my dream, she’s a bit more artistic looking and, of course, she’s the Art teacher. She asked me if she could help me with anything.
Next thing I know we’re sitting down at a table in the hallway and she’s asking me what I really like doing. I start by saying something about “Literature…” but know that I’m thinking “art” even as the word starts to come out. The dream jumps again, and next thing I know I’m IN the art room(s). They are a different place with a different atmosphere than most classrooms and the feeling is wide open and free and exciting. It also turns out that my ‘normal’ clothing has somehow gotten dirty and I’m having to wear a sheet/toga or drapery thing that doesn’t quite cover me well, but all is okay.
Apparently, I’ve always wanted to be an artist. Apparently, I’ve covered myself with societal norms to fit in, but underneath, I’ve always been an artist. Apparently, I’ve never considered this part of myself acceptable in ‘real life’ for ‘practical reasons’. Apparently, this part of me has been either barely showing through or on hold for most of my life.
This morning, I discovered something amazing about myself that seems like it should have been obvious from the start.
I am an artist.
And it’s more than I ever thought it would be.
I don’t know what there is to do about it yet. But it feels quite… OKAY. Very okay.