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Sketching Fingers.

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.

Filed Under: Me

22 Responses to Sketching Fingers.

  1. Oh Joni, that’s so sad. I am a mediocre artist, my talents lie elsewhere, with yarn & cloth, or food, so I respect those who can do this kind of magic with paper and charcoal.

    Perhaps she knew she just couldn’t afford you, after all, such beauty is priceless.

  2. I’m sorry Joni… I really hope the “friend” isn’t going to steal your original sketch to paint for her… That would be horrible and theft.

  3. I’ve had the problem of people backing on commissions before. I’ve now taken the policy of I won’t start any work until I have a deposit. So many people want to talk ideas and see sketches but you’ll know their serious if they give you a deposit. A written contract is good too. I learned my lesson the hard way to too. I spent a lot of time and materials on a custom drawing for someone and never got paid for it. They didn’t get their drawing but I still couldn’t do anything with it.

    Also I sympathize with the pricing dilemma, that’s one of the big problems I have with my work. I have heard a per/hour wage and cost of materials is a good starting point. Then again I have a hard time keeping track of how much time I spend.

    Anyway from what I can see of your sketch it’s beautiful, and I love the soft background.

  4. I am sorry that you worked so hard on something like that and for them to say thanks…but never mind. But I am glad that you have found something that was apart of you a long time ago waiting to come alive again. I know what you mean about being a mom and letting other stuff go….I love being creative, making jewelry and crocheting! But after having my son, I have been dedicating all my time to taking care of him that somehow I lost the “time” to do the things that I like to do. After reading this blog, I am going to try and find the time somehow during my week to start making things again. So thank you for putting your emotions up for all to read!

    • Aww thank you! I am glad I started drawing again- I have lots of ideas now :)

      I hope you do set aside some time for yourself- I am discovering how very important that is!


  5. What a terrible thing to do!

    If you’re interested in starting your art back up, I’m editor of an art newsletter (don’t panic – not hawking any services LOL) and if you need marketing advice or painting advice or just want to find a community of other artists, let me know and I’ll give you the websites. We have a forum where we try to get artists the answers they need and other stuff, too.

    If not, that’s cool, too. :)

    Karma will balance out all things in the end…maybe not as satisfying as we want it to be but none the less…

    I think your art is lovely…anyone would be lucky to have it.

  6. I am embarrassed to admit that one who is not an artist of any kind may not realize just how much work goes into a preliminary sketch and not think it just may be a big deal to the artist. That sketch is simply amazing, though, and I hope that you can find all the people who don’t suck and will appreciate you and your work for what all its worth!

  7. Ow… That must have hurt.

    But how very wonderful that you remembered that magical part of yourself.

    I’ll be happy about that part. And the flaky rude person won’t even exist for me anymore. Only what I know about your amazing talent will warrant my attention.

    • It feels good to get that part of myself back. And?

      A friend just bought the sketch I made. I’m excited that my drawing will be hanging on a wall in a house in another country. Very Cool.


  8. That woman has made me angry! I, too, used to paint and draw but mostly draw mermaid paperdolls & never paint anymore. I would ne broken hearted if they took my sketch and copied it.

  9. My story is much like yours. I finally began drawing and painting again five years ago, and it still gets set aside due to lack of time because of family and work. But, I hear what you’re saying.

    They have a lot of threads about pricing at Wet Canvas (just google it). It is an art community that has helped when I had questions.

    I’m sorry your client backed out. :( Been there, too. I don’t think people often think about what the artist has already invested in a project; they think it is like canceling an order that merely needs to be shipped. :(

    Listen to your muse… don’t let your art go.

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