Thursday, February 15, 2007

Friends with talent

By this point in my life, it is pretty much widely known that I was born without the "craft" gene or, as it is also known, the "art" gene. I admit that it was hard to grow up with this invisible special need, always carrying the shame of my artlessness and inadequacy, waiting to be found out, and living with the fear of discovery. I remember begging Susan Hurd, the class artist, to illustrate my fourth grade report on Utah's natural resources with a lump of coal. I stared at it for hours; I loved that picture of that piece of coal. I pretended that I drew it; it made me happy to have that illustration on my report, uncommonly happy, pathetically happy.

But, somehow, I managed to complete my education and hide my embarrassing lack of skill from the world for many, many years. I was fortunate in that there isn't much call for illustrations on legal memoranda, very fortunate. Then I became a mother, and I was challenged to create pretty, feminine rooms for my princesses and I punted and resorted to paint with a lot of pigment. It wasn't the same as clouds on the ceiling and a scenes from Grimm’s' fairy tales painted on the walls, but it was the best I could do and the occupants weren't complaining. But, recently, the fear and shame I had managed to repress for so many years came snapping back at me when scrapbook mania seized a world full of people who were longing for a "creative outlet" and creating mountains of guilt for the rest of us who neither had the time nor talent to create acid-free and lignin-free treasures for our loved ones. Talk about feelings of inadequacy, the shame, the shame.

I simply do not comprehend the need for a "creative outlet." I know how it feels to have a need, a desire, a longing to sleep in late or to eat a lot of cheese, these urges I understand and embrace. But I have never felt the need, the desire, the longing, to make things with my own hammy hands. I know that sets me apart from most of the world and I truly wish I could join the happy hordes as they make their way to knitting circle or scrapping parties or painting class. I still really wanted it to be my hand that drew the lump of coal.

So when my friend Suzanne DeCuir emailed a few days ago and mentioned that her talent and skill had been recognized for special distinction and that Artist's Magazine had awarded her first place for oils and will feature this painting in the summer edition, I wanted to share my excitement for her accomplishment, because to me, it is huge, just huge. Suzanne and her husband Patrick and I became first time parents together in February 1998 in a seedy hotel in Changsha, Hunan Province. They were the best of travel mates and I highly value their friendship. I am so amazed at what Suzanne has been able to accomplish with her painting while being a full-time mom to three little girls all because she had a need for a creative outlet. Look what she can pull out of her fingers. How would it be? One of those beautiful paintings is winging its way to me even as I type, my own personal lump of coal to treasure forever, I'm sure I will stare at it admiringly for hours.

Congratulations Suzanne, my friend with talent.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Art.

The very *word* makes my blood run cold.

My daughter...well, let's just say, if I hadn't seen her shoot out of my body with my own eyes, I would swear she was not mine.

Creative is her middle name. I seriously can break out in hives over a blank canvas, piece of pottery or what have you and the words, "Just have fun with it".

"What what's the right answer?", I wanna scream. "What's it supposed to look like? What's it supposed to *be*?"

And always, from the arrogant artsy-fartsies: "Oh, dear. There's no right or wrong. Just paint what you *feel*".

Whatever. I mean, do you paint "insecure"?

(from Iowa)