Life has been crazy busy lately. I have a (fairly) new position at work that fires my enthusiasm in a new way. Daily radiation for breast cancer treatment has become part of my life like my first cup of hot tea every morning. Life isn't static, and in a few days mine will take a turn in the road. Everything that has happened has made me a bit more introspective, and when I haven't been working, which takes most of my energy these days, I am resting (fatigue is a side effect of radiation I discovered). With all this resting comes a lot of time to think, and I have lacked the will and/or the energy to write any posts sharing my thoughts.
One thing that has always remained constant in my life is art. I have always turned to it when I am stressed, life is difficult, or when I have a lot of thoughts and emotions running around inside me. It is my therapy, my solace, my friend. A safe place to go to when I just don't want to have human contact.
Recently during one of those times, I turned to digital art. My daughter Jen had recommended an app to me a long time ago, I had tinkered with it once or twice, but never devoted any time to it. One day, when I was feeling really down, I picked up my iPad to read and instead opened the drawing app. I started doodling, and then drawing, and before I knew it I was totally immersed in it. Paper by 53 is easy to use and doesn't require a large learning curve, right up my alley at this time of my life. I started doing some drawing in the mornings, and in the evenings if I wasn't too tired. It helped to level and recenter me, just as art has always done.
One aspect of Paper is a community you can post your artwork to, that can be seen by other artists, or "remixed" by them and reposted. Mix is a way to share ideas, doesn't require a lot of communication, and lets you see some inspiring art and ideas. I also noticed that there are a large number of children on Mix, and I see them commenting on works of art, wishing they had better art skills, and asking for tips which most artists are glad to give. It is a unique community.
As I watched these children (from grade school, middle school, and high school in age), it bothered me to see them beat themselves up about their skills, and I thought about what art is for me. I have seen many skilled artists in the social media sites I participate in, many of them lucky enough to be working artists, some who do it on the side just because they love it, like I do. I remember as a child wishing I could draw like a girl in my class, or a boy. I can close my eyes and see their art and their faces, forever children in my mind. I don't know if they followed this into something professional, or if they even continued to pursue their talent. I do remember my angst, even though I realize now I had fairly good skills for my age. Always wanting to be like someone else, it created negative feelings and self doubt in me at times.
I look back now, and realize that at some point in my life, I stopped wanting to be like other artists. I use my art now to bring me joy, and as a way to express my thoughts and feelings. (My photography is much the same, an extension of my inner thoughts and feelings..) With that release from envy, or longing if you will to be like someone else, came freedom and pure joy at what I do now. I wish I could convey this to those children, and tell them what they feel is normal, not to give up, to keep practicing their art, and learning. Since space is limited I found the best way to do that was a quote from one of my favorite artists, one who spent most of her life living in her artist-husband's shadow, even though she was a gifted artist in her own right.
When I was reading the posts today for Friday Reflections, I saw a prompt that induced me to finally...FINALLY... open my computer to write again.
The prompt is:
Reflect on a quote that has touched you this week, or that has made you laugh.
The quote that touched me, that resonated with me this week is by Frida Kahlo:
"I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality."
Be true to yourself. Paint your own reality, with whatever you choose to express yourself.
...never stop reaching...life is good...
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