In which the “artist” questions himself

I blame my mother.

But then, don’t we all?

Growing up, there was one thing I learned more than any other from my mom: you can do anything.  I saw her sewing, doing cross stitch and needlepoint and latch work.  My father would take us boys on a trip and we’d return to find she’d re-wallpapered/painted the rooms.  She owned a scroll saw and would make toys for us down in the basement.

Frequently she involved us boys in these varied tasks, like when we all colored pictures on transfer paper and she made bed spreads for us with the pictures.  I remember the smell and feel of wallpaper after dunking it in the trough of water.  Somewhere along the way, I picked up a love for crafts and making art as well.

So I blame my mother for my desire to try as much as possible 🙂  To date I can say I have worked in all the following areas: crochet, knitting, water color, book binding, paper making, tie dye, clothes design/making, machine sewing, hand sewing, photography, graphic art, font creation, drawing, altered books, embroidery, jewelry making, embossing, pastels, picture framing, glass plate decoration, stuffed animal design/creation, glass etching, calligraphy… there’s  much, much more that I’m just not thinking of.  And that’s just in the broad field of Arts & Crafts.  I’ve also written plays, short stories, poetry, songs.  I played trombone for 7 years.  I have acted professionally for over 10 years.

But here’s the point I am heading towards: in all these endeavors, I have frequently risen from “not bad” to “pretty good.”  But never beyond.  I’m a good actor.  Maybe a pretty good actor.  But pretty good doesn’t set me above many others when it comes time for casting.  7 years of trombone and I still wasn’t very good at all.  My eye for photography has never been that interesting.  My drawing has always been labored and looks labored.  After years of crocheting, I’d say I could be rated at Advanced Novice.

There is nothing that I feel I do exceedingly well.

While that may not be a terrible thing, it still bothers me.  Even when it comes to my ideas for creating, I feel second-rate.  I see things and think, “Ooo!  I wanna try that!” and then I do THAT.  Exactly that.  Rarely does something I see/experience act as a springboard for something new.  Rarely do I come up with my own concepts.  Sometimes I can’t even put my own spin on concepts.  I might think, “I am going to write a story that takes place after an apocalypse (because I read World War Z) and the lead character is going to live in a casino (because I play too much Fallout: New Vegas).  Never mind, he’ll live on an aircraft carrier (wait, that was Fallout 3).”  I know there’s nothing new in the world (Dime Store Prophets quote) and that all the stories have been told.  The key is putting ones self into something old and making it new.  I just can’t seem to find the Me to put into something, though.  I’ve never been sure how to make it my own.

I guess I spent too much time when I was younger trying to copy exactly what my mom was doing, trying so hard to do it “right.”  I never bothered to color outside the lines and see where it took me.  As an adult, I have a lot of things I can do, but nothing I can do very well.

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2 responses to “In which the “artist” questions himself

  • Rants&Randomness

    I struggle with the same thing, though I’m still pretty darn young, (15). What I do to so you say, “put myself in my art”, (probably not the exact quote), is I… Well. Okay. Sorry I’m extremely scatter minded. But the way I become confident with my creations is doing portraits of my friends, the ones whom I love. Or drawing animals. Stuff like that. I love your post. I’d have to say I got my sketch loving from anyone in my family. Though, my grandma was a very crafty person.

  • Paige

    I think my ongoing battle with this comes from the knowledge that as a created being, I was made to create as well. However, part of my journey has been learning how to be less of a “must do-er” and more of a “just be-er.” It eventually comes back to me trying too hard. At everything. The awesome organic moments (few & far between) come when I’m not trying at all. And then I’m offended by the lack of effort it took…go figure. 🙂

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