I was the last one drawing in drawing class again last Wednesday night. When the instructor says goodnight for the evening when the "official" class time is over, every fiber of my being wants to packup and go home but I look at my drawing and compare it to the success of the other students and I'm sitting back down on the bench going at it again. I am the outsider in this class with my face pressed up against the window looking into a beautiful world of artists.
I like to be a fly on the wall and listen to the conversations of the young artists around me. There are frequent references to what they did in High School or perhaps another class they took in a Jr. College elsewhere. The young artists don't trust their talent (the old one doesn't either!) and they freak out because they are not given explicit directions on how to create something.
Sometimes, I muster up the courage to talk to the other students. I am stealthy and they do not notice my approach. Miraculously, I appear in front of them and present myself like an appirition that has just materialized. Sometimes I surprise them that I actually know the band they are discussing or read the book or can offer variables for cosigns (ok that one was a surprise to me since it has been over 20 years since I took Calculus). I had a lively conversation about Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead which totally took me by surprise because a) someone actually read it and b) we had quite a lively discussion 1950s McCarthy era conservatism and how it was all a crock what we steriotypically think of (i.e. Happy Days, lots of virgins waiting until marriage, etc) Sex, drugs and Rock n Roll were on the scene but the difference between the 50's and the Sexual Revolution of the 60s was that everything that was going on in the 50s was now out of the closet!
I know the other students approach me cautiously. I am in a group all by myself. I'm not one of the retired ladies who decided art classes would be a nice thing to do. I'm certainly not part of the student body that wonders how should I put a resume together? I'm comfortable with the instructors and feel more on a peer basis with some of them. We are all in such angst as we are preparing our portfolios to be accepted into the School of Art. We all use the breaks in class to see how the others are progressing on their projects and secretly compare their talent to our own to figure out if we stand a chance of getting into the program.
We are all trying to figure out back up plans if we don't get into the program. And then I think is it already too late for a backup plan? How easy would my life be if I never discovered that I have a passion for art and that I'm creative and can learn how to do the type of work I always dreamed of doing?
A fellow student, John, and I got into a conversation about art and courage. I said that about 80% of the woman who come to my Crafty Girl classes start out with a statement like, "I'm not creative." I would say 100% leave my classes a little in awe of what they've created. The key here is having the courage to start -- to put pencil to paper or paint to canvas or ink to stamp.
I have to remind myself to have the courage to put pencil to paper in this drawing class. Once I've done that, I'm closer to becoming an artist and further from the wannabe. Its ok that my work may not be something my friends want to hang behind their couch. Its ok if it is not successful if I understand why it isn't successful and make it work a second time. The key is to keep on drawing and building the skills.