Thursday, January 19, 2012

where art thou?

See that? That's my Writer Hat.

It has a feather quill pen and an ink pot. For all my steampunk writing adventures. In hot air balloons, I hope.

I have this other hat, you see. I bought it at Target, and the plan is to turn it into a pirate's hat through the use of ribbon and string and feathers and pointy things that I have no business using. That's why I found myself in Hobby Lobby today.

And that's where I had one of those tiny epiphanies.

I've been haunting art supply stores all my life. I know which brand of acrylic is better for painting canvas vs. paper and which India ink smells the worst and the only kind of tempera that doesn't crack on windows. I love to run my fingers over paintbrushes-- the expensive ones that I've never been willing to pay for. I love posing the wooden mannequins, looking at rows and rows of pristine pastels, and giving myself tattoos with the rainbow of Sharpies.

In short, I'm an artist.

Except that I'm not anymore.

I saw canvas on sale today and thought, "That's a pretty good price!"

And then I realized that I no longer want to paint. That I don't even think I'm a very good painter. That although I can draw better than most people and have years of training and experience, for the most part, I've left visual art behind to pursue my writing career. I'm a much better writer than I ever was as a painter, and when I find a postcard from one of my shows lying on the floor of the garage under a bed of leaves, I feel a little sheepish. For so long, I thought that I would become a great artist. But it never happened.

Instead, I became a writer.

I now feel about painting the same way I feel about guys I used to date. They were nice. They were great at the time and have much to offer the right person. But for me, it was never meant to be. Each time, I thought OH MY GOSH, THIS IS SO PERFECT. ALL MY DREAMS WILL COME TRUE! And only once did that actually occur, which is why I'll be celebrating my tenth wedding anniversary next May.

Art has become an ex-boyfriend.

I walk into an art supply store or a gallery, and I feel old, wise, smirky, nostalgic. "I've been here," I think. "I used to do this, too. I have been around this block. Good times." And I leave empty-handed and heavy-hearted, knowing that even if I travel that road again, everything will be different. Knowing that, deep down, it was just a stepping stone.

I like to imagine myself at sixty, taking a watercolor class. And the instructor will be someone much younger who will explain the color wheel and transparency and masking, and I'll just smile gently and think, "I know, honey. I know."



Marko said...

Writing *is* art, dear. You just use a different sort of brush and canvas.

Anonymous said...

That is either a small hat or a big head.


Adrienne said...

I feel the same way about my photography--it was a stepping stone.

Wendy said...

I completely understand... for me, writing is the guy I had a fling with and then got smart about. :)

Is it ok if I'm still a little sad about the absence of future Defenestrated Duchesses, though?

delilah s. dawson said...

Oh, the Defenestrated Duchesses! I forgot all about them. I still have a couple, actually. That was fun! But the failure of my Etsy shop was definitely one of the many things that made me rethink being an artist.

Anonymous said...

I liked your Etsy shop. Once I live in Pakistan in 1.5 years, I'll have plenty of money to buy your art.

I have a defenestrated duchess on my wall.

Ryan and Urfa

Virginia Valerie said...

I think you're a great artist. You know, I have always been very fond and quite jealous of your brain - which is the thing that ties it all together. You remember everything - every cultural reference, what people said, details. You are the most creative person I know of. You create fantasy worlds like it's an easy thing to do and you churn out stories like it's second nature. And you have an ability to look at a thing and represent it visually (whether it be realistically or cartoon-like) really well, which is a rare talent. I envy your brain, my friend, which makes you a great writer, a great artist, and a great person. :-)

jarvenpa said...

I think I have three of your paintings, perhaps 4, and I treasure them. And I have others in my private Etsy favorites list, hoping someday I will have extra cash (only whenever I have extra cash I seem to need it for something else). I think you never really leave your many talents, and so you are an artist forever, in paint and in words.

Jane&Laura said...

This helps me understand why your blog is titled Delilah Paints. Lol. I was seriously thinking, maybe it's her maiden name or something...?