When I was a child, I used art to tell my story when words hurt too much to carve into being. I flung paint onto the canvas like a madwoman in those days. My voice was slick oil, dusty charcoal, and broken lead smudged into corners. My tears were watercolors, trailing rainbows into taunt linen. Animals of all kinds, real and imagined, were sculpted to life by any pliable medium within my grasp. No errant flower petal, table napkin, or blade of grass was safe from my ever creating and nimble young fingers.
I was young and unafraid of the power of my emotions. I wanted to give them a place to escape. I needed to show the world every good, bad, and ugly emotion there was to feel!
Somewhere along the way, I became numb to my emotions. It’s no coincidence that during this time, I also stopped creating visual art. I also stopped writing and singing. There was no art in my life.
I may never have begun again if not for necessity. I needed money for a family emergency, and I imagined my friends might be interested in purchasing some of my art. They were. I earned all of the money I needed and more. I promised myself I’d never stop creating again.
I have kept this promise for eight years. I create something every day. I write a song or poem, sing a tune I make up along the way, tell a new story, put together a craft, and I draw. Always, I draw.
I have rarely created art with conventional means as of late because I also decided to teach myself to create digital art with programs that felt like an alien language in the beginning. Though I am pretty handy with a pencil or pen and paper, I couldn’t say the same for using a computer mouse or touchpad (as I did at the beginning of my journey). My work was clumsy but whimsical, and I built up a fan base and a business creating graphic art for various projects while I learned.
I thought a lot about creating what I call “pure art” as well and allowed myself to indulge in that every so often. Still, I censored the emotions that once screamed from my work. I created peaceful scenes so that I could roll around in soothing waves of color.
There is a lot of vulnerability in presenting your art to others. My most recent logo was for a baby food company, and though I knew I created what my client wanted, there was a part of me ready to flinch from a negative response.
Presenting art you created from something deep within yourself is thousand times more painful. It is like baring a bit of your soul to your friends, family, and whoever else happens upon your work.
I dared to do this today. I scratched pain into my tablet, walked through a garden of emotions, and I felt them all. I welcomed fear and pain like old friends. I held anger to my breast and dared to hope for better tomorrows.
When I began creating every day, it was merely to say thank you to whatever unseen force allowed me the capacity to do so. I didn’t realize I was beginning a journey that would lead me to that girl who used to fling paint at peeled tree bark and twist dandelions into a backyard menagerie. I see her now, in the corner of my eye, and she’s smiling at me.
She’s saying, “Welcome home.”