I won’t bury the lead. I stopped drawing because my brothers were good at it.
I loved to draw, paint, color, all the things.
I didn’t win coloring contests. Ms. Tina chided me in nursery school for coloring an ostrich purple. (I think it was a solid choice.) I would look at my brothers’ sketches of trees and X-men and envy their superior technique and think, “I’m not that good.”
So, when I figured out I could sing, I had my thing.
Bye bye, visual arts, I will make my way on the staaaaage. Or with a poli sci degree. I didn’t know.
During these quarantine-y times, there’s been play-doh and paint time at the kitchen table with our two-year-old, and I’ve gotten out the watercolors.
What’s so interesting to me is that painting a cup or a vase of flowers or someone else’s painting of a house puts me into a story–I immerse the way I do when I craft a song or write a scene.
And I notice how a fragile child’s ego decision shaped the creative and career path I took.
Are you there? In you own experience when someone said or did something they don’t even remember, and it shaped the whole trajectory of your creative and life choices from that point?
I’m remembering pee-wee basketball.
The one time when our ringer Roy, 9-year-old layup master that he was, didn’t grab a rebound. Somehow the ball ricocheted into my eager eight-year-old hands, and I did what I knew I must:
I double-dribbled to the other side of the half-court and attempted my best underhand granny from around the free throw line.
I soon discovered that I had unsuccessfully attempted to score for the other team.
A bizarro version of the good-game-hand-slap line formed; the other team passed me single-file pointing and laughing in twangy tones. We had a lot of bright color going on in our vocal production back in 1986 Mt. Airy.
Basketball carried a face-flushing, hand-tingling story for me ever since. I would dread pickup or P.E. games. I would try to show up strong on defense or pass to someone I knew could shoot.
I missed the memo that my innocent attempt to play a game one winter Saturday in 1986 was over and that what happens at Reeve’s Community Center stays at Reeves Community Center.
What are the possibilities you tossed out because of a painful story?
Maybe it’s a good time to see if a little eight-year-old back there is raising their hand asking for you to listen and understand, and maybe for a hug.
Here’s an index cards I painted this week. It’s a detail of a Jim Shore sculpture my mom gave us for our anniversary. Great to let the kid come out and enjoy some time in an imaginary watercolor world.