Saturday, March 12, 2011

art envy

One of our favorite blogs is by Tiffany Ard, who runs the excellent Nerdy Baby online store (if you want to get the house 6-year old a present, I recommend a framed copy of this poster, and let me know so I don't buy another one). She writes wonderfully about running her business and homeschooling her two kids. Her kid dialogue is especially awesome.

I was especially struck by this post showing the materials she made up for some of her lessons. I have this sting of envy because she's an Artist, and part of me always wanted to be, and I'm not, really.

Artists have this flow of ideas that I always covet. They just...create things, with ideas that come from somewhere inside them. I had a flow like that as a kid--show me a normal 7-year old who could possibly not spew out a world of ideas as they happen--but then it sort of dried up as I got older. I'm not sure why: one could blame school for crushing my creativity, but the truth is I don't think that's what happened. Plenty of kids around me became Artists. I think it's more that as I reached 6th-8th grade, I started to shut down emotionally as my friends and I grew in different directions and I lost them. And I'm just not really an Artist: my big gift is to understand the world, to learn stuff and find connections and patterns and things in common. Mostly I'm reading books or learning how to do something: ride a motorcycle, make books, make jewelry, shoot a bow and arrow. When I actually make something beyond the process of learning it, it's not the inexorable need from within that most Artists seem to have. I don't even make stuff because it's fun (even though it is). I make stuff in response to a need I have. I'm an Engineer. I solve problems.

(Usually causing more problems in the process. But hey, you wanted cable in the apartment, you said it was really important, and you did not say I couldn't drill through the outside wall to do it.)

I've gotten a lot of mileage out of understanding this and accepting it. We are simultaneously infinitely malleable--I have little patience with people saying they're too old to learn something or too old to change--and we are also who we are. I doubt I'm going to be an Artist, or a world-class musician, or any number of other things. I do want to learn to draw, so a drawing class is on 2011's to-do list (as it has been for every year except 2010). I've mostly accepted I'm not an Artist, but there's a part of me that at least wants to know a technique for making art.

It's amazing to think of everything about me that's changed over time: my experience of the world is completely different from 5 years ago. And yet, we were visiting my parents last month and looking at my baby book, and so much of what was true at age 2 is still very true now (in particular, I talk with a big vocabulary and I have a tremendous lack of moderation around grapes).

Everything changes, and yet...some things persist, in some form or another.

[Cleared out of the Drafts folder, mostly written in early January.]

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