So, I love the arts. I’m especially passionate about literary, performing, and visual arts. Literary arts are my life, and I’ve taken two terms of theater classes. I’m also volunteering with a local theater troupe. But my love for visual arts is a bit more complicated.
I was that kid in kindergarten who refused to color in class because it was “silly”. I haven’t taken a visual art class since middle school. And if you asked someone to describe me, I doubt the words “painter’, “artist” or “the next Van Gogh” would be used.
You see, unlike with theater or lit., I always considered myself bad at visual arts. I loved drawing and painting and shaping clay, but I hated to show my work to others for fear that it would fall short of some invisible standard. I wanted to be the best and I knew that I wasn’t the best at this.
Two things changed my mind, or at least, forced me to reconsider my perspective of what makes good art. The first was a painting of pumpkins I did as a make-up assignment for my middle-school art class. I had been sick and the teacher had told me to create a painting of whatever I wanted in order to get credit. So, I chose pumpkins.
Painting those pumpkins was the first time I felt like I was doing something that wasn’t too weird or bad or incomplete for others to see. And when I turned it in, I felt like da Vinci bestowing a second Mona Lisa. Obviously it wasn’t, but it’s the first time I remember being proud of a piece of visual art.
The second was when I was doodling in my notebook one day, and my friend looked over and said, “Hey, that’s pretty cool. I wish I could draw like that.” I looked down at my doodle and then up my friend in surprise. I wasn’t working on anything spectacular. I was just drawing interesting lines over and over. And suddenly it dawned on me:
Art isn’t about perfection
In fact, one dictionary defines art simply as a work produced by skill and imagination.
What I was doing was legitimate art, even if it wasn’t likely you’d find in a museum.
My teacher has an expression she likes to use. “Festina lente”, or hurry slowly. I think that one phrase sums up my whole experience with art. It’s been about letting things happen and embracing opportunities. It’s knowing that I’m headed someplace, but still taking time to smell the roses. It’s about art for art’s sake and not in order to please an imaginary critic.
There’s my 5 cents worth. Don’t spend it all at one place!