Being an Artist in Under a Year is Impossible



If I hadn’t spent a lifetime studying things like the curve of a bunny’s back, how would I have any idea how to integrate that tense and gentle curvature into any work of “art” –
Of course, I suppose I could come with a conceptual piece about not knowing any image intimately, or I could make up a new curve. I don’t think I’m that kind of artist though. I like to draw things as they are – or as close as possible. That doesn’t mean that everything I draw actually exists. I tend to do a fair amount of daydreaming – and turtles don’t ever wear hats. The lizard-ish things I drew out of my daily obligation to draw (I was sitting in a car, in the rain, waiting for the children to finish their fatherly lunch. The dogs’ breath was hideous, the rain kept hitting my arm. I wanted to sleep. But, I drew instead.) are, perhaps, an unseen fear of an unknown child. I think they may be part of the myth. I need to paint. The whirlwind of energy to lay it down with brush and pigment segued into a whirlwind of energy to restructure my house. The living room is upstairs now. I excavated the downstairs closet, pulling bag after bag of fabric scraps out from under bag after bag of paper towel tubes and birthday party decorations. My son turns seven day after tomorrow. He banished me from his unwrapping of an early gift. A set of Star Wars “blasters” – our euphemism for anything gun-like. He was fearful of my disapproval of the gift. Little guy. I need to chill on my leftist-liberal dogma. Let the boy be happy – unhesitatingly thrilled – by a gift of plastic blasters, made in China. He worries to much. I taught him how.
Dang.
I don’t know how to be an artist. I just know that I like to draw.
This praying mantis was inside our house today. Unseen by cats. Last night I watched as a spider attacked a web-caught leaf hopper. I thought I should let nature take its course, as they say. I willed myself to watch as the spider darted in and out around the insect, whose wings beat helpless and frantic. I couldn’t deal with it – I opened the window, that simple action tearing the web apart. I don’t know who I set free. The insect or myself. I am not as brave as I try to be. Though I did euthanize an aging hamster last week. I should do a series of essays on mercy killing gone awry. A panicked hamster in a plastic bag, a dove’s head in my hand. I wouldn’t draw these stories. They make me too sad – to see deeds I intend to noble turn out to be frightening and grotesque, clumsy and human.

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