THROUGH THE FRONT DOOR WEEK 16, 2020

Playing the Artist

So, I open my front door one morning and a fairy grandmother is standing on my porch with a question. Given what I know in my elderhood, if not my dotage, what gift would I give myself as a teenager to carry forward throughout my life.

This is how I would answer today and maybe tomorrow as well. If there is something that I really want to do, then do it although you have no talent and less skill. Along the road, never compare yourself to anyone else.

In fourth grade, art class was every Tuesday and Thursday morning. My assigned seat was next to Bob Standard (Yes! I still remember his name, although I can’t remember the name of my first date.) Bob had red hair, a mass of freckles, artistic skills and over the top. He was drawing fully rendered 3-dimensional illustrations, while my best output was stick figures. Comparing my work to his work, I decided once and for all, that I was not an artist, could never be an artist, and never would be an artist.

       In college, I discovered “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards.  This book was written from the point of view that anyone can draw, and that learning to draw was simply a matter of perception and learning to how to “see” what one is looking at.  After completing the exercises in the book, my drawing skills expanded way beyond simple stick figures.  Sadly, the need to study for finals took me away from my artist explorations.

Housebound, I have returned to artistic endeavors and I am having a lot of fun!  Some days, I sketch with paper and felt-tip; others, I use Adobe Illustrator. Will you ever see my work in a magazine advertisement? No: neither will you see it hanging in a museum, nor will it auction for a thousand dollars.

My skills are limited: they always will be.  But day by day, the imaginative ways in which I can use these limited skills is expanding day by day.

Through the Front Door June 5

Castle in SpainI kick open the front door and drop my bags. Immediately I turn on music, filling the air with “A Thousand Years” by The Piano Guys. Opening wide my arms I twirl circles across the bare boards of a room filled with sunlight.  

It’s been months since I visited the Front Door.  Wouldn’t it be fun to say that I’d packed real bags and went visiting castles in Spain, and surf fishing on the beaches of Ibiza. Imagine posting Instagram photos of me outside Castle Coca, Castle Manzanares El Real, and Castle Alcazar of Segovia.

I have Spain on the brain because one of the things I actually did while vacationing from this blog is rereading that wonderful trio of novels by Lois McMaster Bujold, loosely known as the “Chalion novels.” They are fantasies set in a world based upon medieval Spain. All three books spin a yarn that speculates on the nature of the relationship between the human and the divine.

Not everyone’s cup of tea, of course, but I always close each book wondering how Bujold come up with the stuff she writes. I shelve her novels next to those eccentric little theological novels of Charles Williams, who as one of the Inklings, was a friend of C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien. Like olives and caviar, Williams is an acquired taste, but I reread his books annually.

In addition to re-reading theological fiction, I attended the April NaNoWriMo boot camp.  This is an online workshop for writers. I am happy to announce that I have lost my fear of the first sentence.  I remember how many times I started letters “Dear Friend, How are you?  I am fine” and never wrote another sentence.  Now I can knock out a paragraph or two with ease. AND, and, and, I am getting better at writing with an active voice.