When I was in junior high, I boldly signed up for Shop instead of Home Ec. I was determined to learn things I’d always wanted to learn, to make, create, and build. Use power tools. Hammer some nails. MAKE something. All my young life, I had spent so much time at the side of my Gramps as he built things in his wonderful shop out behind his house. I loved the smell of that shop, the sawdust, the paint. Well, back in the 70’s, girls, at least in my school, did not take Shop, Shop was for boys. I lasted two weeks before I gave in to the relentless harassment by all the boys in the class, and the male teacher who wouldn’t let me so much as touch a table saw, to transfer to Home Ec “where I belonged.” I have kicked myself for that caving in ever since. I mean, I already knew how to sew; I’d been sewing since I was 5 years old. I already knew how to cook, to can, to bake. I’m the daughter of a farmer and farmer’s wife. It’s what we did.
I wanted to BUILD.
Home Ec class was awful. I sewed as well as the teacher and she realized it pretty quickly. I did well – but got graded low because she did not appreciate that I already knew as much as she did.
I couldn’t win. I let it affect me in ways I shouldn’t have, but I was only 13 and painfully shy, just trying to find something that was mine.
Because of these experiences, I trained myself – and steered myself – away from anything creative, other than continuing to sew and cook as simply a means to clothe and feed myself, for years.
A lot of years passed. I moved many times and finally to Portland, OR. I’d lost that desire again. Correction: I hadn’t lost it, I had tucked it away as a pipe dream. Even after discovering the joy of making stained glass, again a gift from Gramps, I put it away. Well, one day I found myself picking up a box of colored pencils, a few watercolors, some brushes, a large pad of artist’s watercolor paper, and I started playing around with it all. I won’t share those early paintings or sketches with you – because I like you and wouldn’t do that to someone I like, because #rude! But I kept at it, and I struggled for years to look at what I was creating as art. There have been and are some wonderfully talented artists in my family and I held my work against a mental yardstick alongside what I saw them create. It took years for me to stop doing that. And it took a long time to stop worrying about whether or not other folks would like it. I still work on that. My talent is not their talent. It is mine. What I make, I make for me. Well, you know something? I like my art, even love some of it. The other pieces, well, we just won’t talk about those… 😉
I am an artist.