I probably should have taken art class. I mean, I loved art. LOVED it. Loved cartoons and how malleable characters could be. I loved paintings and drawings - how immediate they all were. You didn’t have to spend an hour on them like you did with a book. A painting is what it is – you see it all at once. I very strongly wanted to do art. Be an artist.
I was 14 and at an all-boys high school. You could play sports and take classes in all sorts of subjects (my Mom is still mad that I forged her signature to take film studies). But then you had to make a binary choice: Art or Music. If I went with art I’d learn how to paint like Bob Ross (a high goal for many of my contemporaries) or I’d be given unlimited bags of clay to mold at my whim.
But Music had girls.
The classes for singing and dancing brought in students from the four Catholic all-girl high schools in Buffalo, N.Y. After school you could join the choir or the musicals where you got to dance with girls. There were other reasons to pursue music (singing was and is just fun) but it set a course for me that was decidedly NOT art.
But then I met The Girl.
Years later I married an art major who had learned it all. Knew the theories, had the techniques. Spoke the lingo. We took an introductory lesson at the adult school in Burbank, CA where I learned pencil and tone technique. At the same time I found a million zentangles on Pinterest and thought, “I can do that.”
That was 2016. Since then I’ve been working at it. I’m trying to push myself to get better. I’m trying new things. Along the way I became a professional writer and loved working at newspapers, just as they began their steady and inevitable decline. But somewhere in there I found I loved writing poetry about people, in the same way I’d write news stories about strangers who did extraordinary things.
I’m still writing for strangers. I’m still drawing. And The Girl is still at my side, encouraging me with all of it.