Words and Pictures

I have had poor vision most of my life. I was the kid in high school with coke bottle glasses. Every year, my eyesight would deteriorate and I would get thicker glasses. At some point, the fear of growing blind slipped into my awareness. It wasn’t a paralyzing fear but more of a “what would I do?” kind of fear. I am an artist. My medium of choice is pastels. My hands and my eyes were things that I would sometimes fear losing, my eyes more often. To me, going blind was a real possibility. Especially when you roll over in the middle of the night and can’t even read the digital clock a foot in front of your face. A very real possibility.

I think, even then, I understood that my talent was not just how well I could draw, though that is a factor. My talent was in my “vision”. It was in how I “saw” the world and what I chose to “see” in the world. That was what I thought was different about my work. I painted the little things that would escape notice. The things that people would walk by and not see. I would bring to light the leaf on a rock and the color of water in a puddle. With eyesight or without, what made my art mine would not change. So I knew that I would paint the world with words if I ever lost my sight.

My sister is the writer. I remember, in her college experience, she was writing an essay and I suggested a phrase for her to use. “Nurtured with intentional neglect”. I still remember it now, as does she. That is how much it made an impact on me. She loved it. It was perfect. She refused, even when the professor asked, to remove the phrase from her essay. I was so proud. I thought, her words and my pictures, a prefect combination. I never even considered the possibility of writing. I was an artist. If it entered my mind, it was only as a way to showcase my art. I was an artist, my sister a writer. Together we would change the world, her words, my pictures.

I love the feeling I get of looking at a picture and just knowing it’s complete. There is nothing I can add to make it better. It is exactly what it needed to be. There is a profound sense of peace and a great sense of accomplishment. I imagine that is what God felt when He/She looked upon the earth and found it good. Completeness. Wholeness. Connection.

Somewhere along the line, I decided my art would support me. It no longer was about a sense of completeness but about “How do I make money?”. It became an obligation to talent and not a adventure of discovery. It was about what would be the best way to market and not what was the next thing I could experiment on and play around with. It became a job. It became work. It became a challenge. And I rebelled. For years I rebelled against the job I had given myself. Yet, never once in all those years did I consider shifting to writing. Never. I was an artist.

My long and winding road back to my art began back with writing. It began with daily dialog pages, as recommended in the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. So I wrote and fought myself and tried to remember how to play with my art again. How to love it again. How to just let it be. And I wrote. Never once did I ever consider myself a writer. I was an artist. My talent lies in my hands and my eyes.

I am writing now because the words flow more freely over the paper than paint flows over canvas. I write to look inside and see where has my art gone and what have I done to make it so painful. Creativity, I told a friend, does not lie in what you do but how you do it. More than anything I want to live a creative life. Still, I am an artist and I choose to paint. But maybe, just maybe, I will let myself be a writer too. At least until the paint flows as freely as the words. Or until I sign my first book deal. Whichever comes first.

In love and light