27 October 2009

1 a portrait of the artist as a silly girl

to bring everyone up to speed: i have discovered My Craft and ascended the throne of scherereundedidddentite.

(and yes, i do have a grave awareness of the perilous waters i am treading with all this schrueitueitditetetttde talk. i am well aware this could be the live-blogging of what will eventually go down in history as Yet Another Pretentious Era of Oline's Art- like, y'know, The Poems- and i apologize to you all in advance, but by god, lindear's kid is going to get an elephant, even if i have to serchruddneitete myself to death to do it.)

as a recent convert to this under-appreciated ancient art, i needed to equip myself with the tools of My Craft. thus, i trod boldly into blick's, the confident princess- nay! the confident queen!- of my schrencididdirtttrt kingdom, to amass the necessary knives and papers and whatnot.

read: i stood in open-mouthed stupification before the myriad varietals of vellum before running (for there is no better word for it) to the comfortable confines of the school supplies section, from which i emerged triumphant with a pack of construction paper.

this seems somehow exceedingly appropriate. i am terribly common after all.

art stores make me uncomfortable. like, awkward first date uncomfortable. craft stores, despite a lifetime spent in them, are even a stretch. all that reproachful fabric, each bolt jeering, reminding me i cannot sew.

the only thing worse than a craft store? an art store.

i've tried to figure out what it is about art stores that disturbs me so, aside from the obvious fact that i am a woman of few arts.

well, that's not entirely true. it might be more accurate to say i'm a woman of many arts done badly. you all, of course, remember The Poems. i've not yet spoken of my paint-by-numbers past. and i'm pretty sure art stores make be uncomfortable by virtue of my paint-by-numbers past.

i come from quite possibly the most encouraging family ever. you want to take piano lessons? done! you're twelve and you want to develop a morbid interest in a dead former first lady and write a book about her? do it! you want to buy a typewriter so you can do ornamental decoupage? let's find one! you want to take 18 million pictures of crypt doors at the cimetière du montparnasse? sure, we'll stand here for an hour talking to this crazy gypsy lady while you do! they have encouraged me in everything. even the really, really stupid things. and my paint-by-numbers past was a really, really stupid thing.

my paint-by-numbers past can, like The Poems, be filed under Yet Another Pretentious Era of Oline's Art. to make matters worse- in what seemed convenient at the time but which i now recognize as an excessively unfortunate twist of fate- my paint-by-numbers past coincided with that summer that comes once in every girl's life. you know which one i'm talking about. that summer when little girl you- if you were indeed a little girl- was suddenly, out of nowhere, seized by an ardor for all things equine.

in my life, this was the summer of 1991. the summer i began saving for a horse by contributing 65 cents to a ziplock bank on a monthly basis. it was also the summer that i began feverishly working my way through the crafthouse kentucky derby keepsakes paint by number kit.

(semi-unrelated aside: i'm pretty sure this was also the summer libby and i hatched a plan to make it to the '96 olympics by contributing 65 cents a month to a separate ziplock bank, which leads me to wonder if the epic summer of 1991 could be characterized as The Summer I Was Deeply Affected By The Sally Struthers Commercials For Save the Children And Saw 65 Cents As Being Entirely More Money Than It Actually Was.)

as summer turned to autumn and autumn turned into the holidays, my enthusiasm for horses and paint-by-numbering climaxed most magnificently in The Christmas of Horsey Paint-By-Numbers, wherein everyone i knew- from teachers to friends to family and, though it chagrins me, quite possibly the mailman of diana court- was gifted with an oline eaton paint-by-number equine original.

this is not a time upon which i look back with undiluted pride nor one of which i particularly like to be reminded.

were it not for the fact that, through various white elephants and what not, pretty much all of my kentucky derby keepsakes found their way back to my parents attic, i would fear their reemergence should i ever achieve true fame. but no, they are safely stabled in the attic, where i recently stumbled upon them. there i was, innocently digging around for the journals that would destroy my life and suddenly, voilà! the ponies of 1991.

yes, that's right. the whole freaking team. my keepsakes put to pasture. rejects all.

and among them was my masterpiece. the 14' x 20' grand dame of the derby. a painting that had me tethered to my grandparents dining room table for weeks on end during that infamous summer of 1991, so continually hunched that i would march into school that fall with a decidedly forward tilt.

i cannot convey how i adored this painting. with what love and embarrassingly concerted care, in the dead of many a night, squinting through the shadows cast by the salt and pepper and the sugar bowl, i coaxed my brushes through the numbered bubbles that comprised this horse's dappled mane.

and all these years later here it was.

and all these years later there it was.

taped into the corner between the canvas now covered in cobwebs and the frame he made, the promotional post-it sponsored by retin-a, on the back of which my grandfather had scribbled: well done, little artist.

if we're being honest, my paint-by-numbers sucked. and i'm probably not the princess- much less the queen- of schiroeioeoriiettte. i'm probably not an artist. or a musician. and i may never be much of a writer. still, though the Pretentious Eras of My Art often leave me feeling foolish in the end, i can never quite escape the allure.

the exhilaration found in poems. in blank pages. in the feel of a fabric. in the school supplies aisle. hell, even amongst the stupid judgmental paints and pens. and i guess that is why we silly, wanna-be artsy girls always go back. why i always return to words and canvas and rhinestones and ribbons. because there's a freedom there. and always the possibility, the tantalizingly delicious hope, that at the end, there will be a well done.

1 comment:

Linda said...

ohh.. my heart.

That "well done, little artist" about brought me to tears. and I'm not even entirely sure i can blame pregnancy hormones..