Once upon a time I was a little girl who lived and breathed for the chance to open a new box of crayons. The prettiest things in all the world were those bright and pointy tips all lined up in a crisp yellow cardboard box with a snowy sheet of paper waiting along side, ready for whatever magic I could coax out of my fingertips and apply to the page.
When I got older, I discovered a whole world hidden in my art classes. I loved learning new ways to put the things in my head onto paper- and later on, canvas. In that room, for the first time in my life I didn’t feel scared or useless, I was a powerful, talented, and strong person. I could do anything. I felt like I was GOOD at something. It was my favorite part of school. I always carried a sketch book with me. My fingers and clothes were permanently stained with pencil lead, charcoal, and paint. By my junior year of high school I knew I wanted to be an artist.
Instead, I had a baby, and that became the focus of my life. I adored her- she gave me all the beauty and wonder I needed. And in the struggle to survive and be a good mommy, I forgot that other bit of me. I lost my creativity. I lost the urge to MAKE things, (other than babies- I’ve made a lot of those) and if every once in a while I felt a twinge of sadness or regret that I wasn’t doing what I had once loved, I stifled it and moved on. I eventually started working as a henna artist, and for a long time that fulfilled that part of me that was aching for a creative outlet.
This past weekend I was approached to do a painting. I spent hours working out the sketch and how it should look, and I was so nervous sending it off to the potential customer. I worried endlessly about what to charge, how much was too much? The “what your time is worth plus supplies” formula is hard to figure out because my time? I get paid a hundred dollars an hour as a henna artist. How do I translate that when doing commissioned artwork?
It ended up being a moot point. I sent her my preliminary sketch for the painting last night- just a quick snapshot because I was so excited, I planned to scan it and email that to her this morning… She replied that she loved it, I am so talented, but her friend from high school will paint it for forty dollars- so she didn’t need me anymore.
I am left feeling bereft of my happy creative mood. I burst into tears when I read her email. I didn’t realize until I read it how important this little painting job was to me. The idea that somebody would want something I painted, it meant the world to me. But at least I’ve discovered how much I enjoy my art. So even if my client would rather have a high school friend do it on the cheap, I’m proud of myself.
And I’m going to paint it anyway. I’m sure Willow will like it hanging in her room.
Last night I was so happy to once again have “sketching fingers” I tweeted this picture.