26 july 2000 |
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in 4th grade, my art teacher made us get prang watercolors. i remember she asked for that brand specifically, because she told us the brushes were made of pony hair. the idea that i would be painting with a horse's behind made me uneasy, but i was eager to try it if it meant i'd become a true artist.
i thought because i dunked the brush in water, scooped up some color from the plastic palette and dragged the tip across paper that i was a good painter. i used watercolors a lot like i'd use markers or crayons: to fill in pencil and pen drawings, to give the sky its blue and the grass its green, to make the piece complete. my work of art.
sometime between then and high school, i stopped painting. it wasn't until i graduated from college that i began again.
i was studying in paris for the semester -- my renaissance. i sat outside with my sketchbook in hand, filling the pages with the city. when the sky began to shift and the light hit the seine river just so or i saw lovers entwined like pieces of a puzzle, i took a mental picture and went home to paint it.
it would be in my head, the masterpiece, i knew exactly what i wanted the piece to look like, but my head's vision never translated well to paper. i was in too much of a hurry. i rushed, slapping on color after color, and it always ended up looking like a soggy paper towel or bad tie-dyed shirt.
in art class, my teacher explained that working with watercolors was a delicate and slow process: you had to go slowly, adding layer upon layer of color and detail. painting required planning, foresight and patience. it took weeks -- and dozens of crumpled sketchbook pages -- until i learned the lesson.
i stepped into class proudly toting my first decent watercolor, "coffee and cigarettes," 48 square inches of swirling smoke beside a cup and saucer. i'd tried painting the image several times, and this final attempt took me several hours. but it was worth it. you could tell.
i don't consider myself a painter by any means, but i enjoy the process. it's soothing; each brushstroke against the page is like a hand smoothing over my hair. it's also satisfying; the reward seems that much more lush because i've tried so hard to exercise patience and restraint. the outcome is not always as i'd imagined. sometimes the colors bleed into themselves, becoming an image i could never have conjured myself, but it's often that unintended beauty that's the most striking.
so i'm painting, again.
a girl is walking through a field of wheat. her hands are sitting in the pockets of a gray hooded sweatshirt, and she's looking down. the sky behind her is a blue so blue you'd think she's in heaven. her hair is blonde, her face like an angel. it's just some ad i pulled out of a magazine, but for some reason i was drawn to it.
i've been painting it for days -- bit by bit, layer by layer. first it was just a horizon. then there was a figure in the center of the page. now the picture is taking shape and it is coming alive -- she is coming alive.
and i know just how i want it to look. it's going to take more time -- oh how i wish it was already finished -- but i want to get it right. this time, i promise myself, i am going to do it right, and it will be beautiful. and i think i can, sometimes i doubt myself, but i really think i can.
my kickass friends erlina and miguel got me a picture of akiko drawn and signed by mark crilley. when they first read the comic book, they heard my voice coming out of her scrawny sketched body.
just shameless, really.
oh, that lisaann is such a like mind. audrey hepburn, blake nelson and julie andrews, oh my!
"I decided today that what the place you're at emotionally is earthly happiness. That feeling where you could just die or fly away and
you don't know or particularly care which one...that's it!" -- my friend garrett who means well.
i guess i have that kind of face, the kind that says, 'hello, please talk to me, even if it looks like i'm busy.'