Monday, 26 December 2011

Do what you want

Spent the day gently, thinking about four different people. That required dressing up paper off-cuts with stitching, stick-on jewels and, in the case of one thick wodge of curvy-cut cream hand-woven dream, a leather binding with the sun and some chains.

I messed up the inside stitching, and I'm only part-way with the ideas about the chains, but it was all highly satisfying.

Hope I don't mix up the handover of the four little notebooks at the last moment, pass Sun Woman to The Musician and give Blue Mood to Lilly in the Pink.

Well, it's a selfish pleasure, even though I'm not very accomplished. It keeps me out of harm's way (unless you count the mishaps with the pokey tool). Handling paper, fabric, leather, binding, art and craft materials; all makes for a quiet day and applies salve to the soul.

I probably couldn't have made a living from it anyway. Shop window design was my first job aspiration. Age four! Soon followed by potter, photographer, theatre set designer, model maker, sculptor, illustrator, artist.

I didn't do any of those as a career. Obviously.

To my credit, I did try. I was tenacious enough to withstand the two-year attack by the school art teacher. (I do her justice by forgetting her name entirely.) So I kept up my fantasies to age 16.

But I wasn't tenacious enough to face out Mr Bates who, deadly serious - as if my life depended on it - fastened his biro on the form and said, Choose three A levels. Suitable for university. Art is not one of them.

I still took my Art A level. Later. By then I was sure the occupation was illegal, to be conducted in secret under cover of darkness in evening classes.

From which point life was taking over anyway. I wound a slow, drawn-out route, fashioning a university graphics course, into what I imagined could begin to lay the basics of an art degree.

Finally, three kids popped up, sprouting thirty toes, six eyes, and one huge roar. Something properly to worry about.

Now with the art, I just tinker! No formal training. No organised structure. No actual taught skills. Half the time I don't know what I'm doing! I follow half-baked wonder if ideas and puncture my finger ends with the pokey tool. Working with pre-printed paper is more satisfying; scavenged materials, found objects, scraps that you throw away. It seems fitting.

And I'm not sure what the Eng. Lit. degree turned out for. The route that several adults, who all knew better than me, encouraged me to follow. I'm not employed by it, have kept myself barely independently alive from it, and I haven't managed to finish reading a book in years.

Maybe it did one thing. Gave me an insight into how schools don't always work in a person's best interests. In fact they aim deliberately to give you options. The sort of options you get if you narrow down life's choices to a binary set of alternatives that you don't want and wouldn't have chosen.

To which junction - since I'm mining a seam of sudden resentment - add: knocking you off course, making you fit where you don't want to be, putting obstacles in the way of ambition, and generally forcing you to do stuff you don't want to do, while telling you it's good for you because it hurts.

Then you look round and think bugger, it's all too late.

Sod it. Shark, Squirrel, Tiger. There's only one real message.

Do what you want. I didn't.


Blue Dragonfly said...

That really resonates with me Grit.
I too had the Art teacher from hell, who picked apart my every attempt at creating beautiful things and put me off trying anything creative for years. Indeed I was told business studies was a solid option (!) Art was not nor never would be a career move.

So, like you, I now dabble my toes in the artistic waters, but never feel it's quite up to standard. School was a throughly negative experience really and these little things can stay with you even 20 years on.

However my small anarchist has no problem in expressing her art through pink glitter glue and tissue paper. She thinks every creation is a masterpiece and that's really how it should be.

And I am in awe of your created journals, quite beautiful they are.

Deb said...

Your notebooks are beautiful, Grit. Truly. Do what you want.


Lins said...

I assumed you were an artist. And clearly I am right.

MadameSmokinGun said...

I know I'm a bit late but speaking as someone who did go to art college - it was shit.

It's taken me a further 25 years or so to realise that I was way better at all this stuff BEFORE I went there - and now I am a fossilised ex-art student - as opposed to an artist.

I too shall insist that my children never have a back-up plan or 'something to fall back on'. I'm doing very well indeed at providing them with no education at all - hoping this will propel them into a self-directed passion-filled life of .... maybe I haven't thought this through.... bugger.. Oh well. At least they probably won't go to art college.