On an extremely beautiful day last week, I went to a public beach near my house just because I couldn’t bear to be inside, regardless of the work that needed to be done with my computer. It was a pebbly beach and since it was low tide, I walked around for a little while peering into all of the little cracks and crevices that made tide pools (just like at the Aquarium!). The starfish here are bright purple and orange and I found close to 15 little cracks in the lava-poop boulders that each had around 8 to 10 purple squishy starfish crammed into them to stay as cool and wet as possible until the tide came back in.
After gamboling about, I sat down in the sun, wedged my butt into the rocks and took out my pencil and watercolors. About a year ago, I read a book called Love, Loss and What I Wore. In it, a woman traces the important memories of her life (begun in the 40’s) through the outfits she wore. She uses a simple narrative style and even simpler line drawings with basic, almost cartoonist, coloring to show the clothes. I was moved by her story but I was more impressed by the simplicity. I could do that!
Now, that is a huge statement for me. I cannot draw. I am, if anything, a compilation artist, taking little bits of already created supplies (magazine clippings, beads, yarn, ribbon) and putting them together to make something 3D and whimsical. Poor drawing, in fact, creates much humor in my classroom. However, I realized that drawing the shape that I’ve been looking at in the mirror for 25 years or so would probably be possible. Plus, almost simultaneously with this thought that I might be able to draw, I had a desire to draw the outfit I was wearing when my husband first told me he wasn't sure he wanted to be married to me anymore.
Look at this poor little girl, with her feet tucked into the bottom of the page. Looking back her, she looks pretty pathetic. However, then and now, I’m satisfied with my representation of myself. By tapping some “outsider art” spirit, I really do feel like I’ve accurately recorded both my physical image and emotional self-image at the same. Trust me, I was only going for the physical in my conscious mind. I guess that’s the point of art, though, to tap the unconscious, right?
I’ve made 17 pictures so far including one of all of the different Converse that I’ve owned. My personal style is a constantly changing thing. As a child, my mother used to buy clothes for me in European styles. As this was the mid-eighties, everyone but those boring kids at Forest Glen Elementary School with no imagination was impressed. Since I didn’t look like one of the three Kelly’s, I was teased quite a bit. It set me on my style path for life. I was never going to look like one of the three Kelly’s, so it didn’t take me long to start trying to look like myself. Since I keep changing, so does my style. It’s been fun to relive that.
On the beach the other day, I drew myself as I am now. When the paint had dried and I was able to flip back into the spiral notebook and compare it, I was amazed at the level of detail and realism that I included. This was when I realized how simple my early pictures were. Both my skill level and my sense of self have gone up in the last year. Art is, quite simply, amazing. Look at this girl! She’s smaller, with some tummy showing. Her hands are visible. She’s got kick-ass hicking boots on. She’s not afraid to wear silk thermal long sleeves under a short-sleeved T-shirt. Her jeans have depth of color and her ponytail is perky. All in all, she’s pretty damn satisfied with herself.
As a final note, while I was drawing, an eagle landed on the volcano-poop rocks less that 50 feet away from me. I only looked up because of the giant noise his wings made as he landed. I think he grabbed a starfish and flew off. I immediately called my dad on my cellphone to gloat because he tried so hard to spot an eagle while visiting but had to settle for cormorants in Vancouver. He’s been calling me PrincessEagle and Eagle-girl in emails ever since.
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