What We Tell Ourselves…

by Elizabeth Adams on July 30, 2013

I have begun to draw! I went out and bought a set of coloured pencils and watercolour paints, some paper, (the kind you use for your printer because where I am right now that was all I could find) and began! Ta Da! Now, I draw like a 5 year old. Or, like the 5 year old I once was. You know what I mean, stick people, lop sided houses, lots of stars and suns, easy things. Yes, it is true I can’t draw, but it doesn’t matter because what I’m after is … colour. I love colour! It’s something about the shades merging into one another, the magic as a deep red morphs into raspberry red and intersects with indigo that drifts into pale yellow I’s yummy. It’s delicious. It’s a luscious extravagance for the soul. So why has it taken me so long to allow myself this delectable pleasure? Maybe it was what my 6th grade art teacher thoughtlessly said, after I proudly showed her my version of a landscape or whatever it was we drawing that day, “ Oh, well, we can do much better than that can’t we dear” delivered in what can be described that benevolent yet patronizing voice adults in authority in the 60’s often affected. I was crushed. I loved my drawing! I loved the color! Maybe that was it, or maybe it was the myriad of mixed messages about what it meant to be creative. I wanted to learn to draw as a kid. I tried to teach myself from a book I found in my parents bookshelf but I just didn’t understand perspective. I couldn’t figure it out and I didn’t know who to ask, so instead I decided that I wasn’t creative. I couldn’t draw, so that must mean I wasn’t creative, right? Then in Grade 12, an exciting new vocational test came out, designed to help us figure out what our talents were and to make sure we took the right courses to steer us in the right direction. When it came to my evalution I sat uncomfortably in front of the Guidance counsellor as he stared at me in disbelief. “You aren’t taking any Art classes” he said for the second time. “No” I said. “Are you sure” he said, “Yes” I said. He looked at me and said something like “ But you have scored in the highest percentile of creativity” he stared some more at me in case I was just pulling his leg. “ Did you take Art classes before” “No” I said . “I have never taken Art classes”. I was getting embarrassed and I little panicked, like I had done something horribly wrong, Should I sign up for Art classes? I couldn’t draw! I couldn’t be an artist! I didn’t know what to do. I felt ashamed. “Well” he said, finally, putting down the test results, a look of resignation and disappointment on his face, I guess it’s too late now”. I didn’t say anything, I didn’t know what to say. I felt ridiculous, I was confused. I guess I had really blown it, I should have taken Art classes! I don’t know what happened after that but I left his office, armed with some new information about myself with no idea what it meant or what to do about it. I probably was too occupied with my practicing my dance routine for our High School play or had to get home and get ready for my ballet class or maybe I had to get to the Gym because as head of the Social Committee we needed to finish decorating for our High School Dance. It might have been the one where “Heart” played, right before they made it big, the band my friend and I had chosen. Or maybe I wanted to discuss “ The Female Enuch” with my English teacher, or maybe I wanted to add to the on-going stories my friend and I would write and pass to each other in the hall in between classes. Yeah, I wasn’t creative, I couldn’t draw…

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