I have never been an artist. And I mean ever. When I was in school and had to do an art project, my “people” were sticks with constipated expressions and my “houses” looked like they were taken out of a Tim Burton film. Beautifully majestic animals such as horses were reduced to moose-faced, bat eared, pot-bellied, scoop-assed puppies. Don’t even get me started on colours – it took me awhile before I realized that the clouds were white and the sky was blue.
But yesterday, something amazing happened.
For the first time, I helped create something full of colour and design and beauty. Completely and totally by accident.
If you’ve ever watched The Princess Diaries (come on, you know you have, at least once.) you might (or might not care to) recall a scene where Mia’s mother is found making something called “abstract art.” To me, this means that you can do whatever the heck you want with it and you can call it art. The kind of stuff the 4 year olds makes millions off of nowadays.
Why do I exist.
Anyways, her method is to have a plain board as a backdrop, pin as many paint-filled balloons on it as you can, put some darts in your quiver and fly at ‘er! How could that not be fun? Without mentally realizing it, I put this activity on my bucket list but never knew when the opportunity might come up.
Now we come to this year. I moved into a house with 3 other girls who are almost as motivated to do as many crazy things as I am. During our move, we managed to acquire a sheet of wood and didn’t want to just throw it out, so Joanna said, “Why don’t we someday make a painting on this? Have you girls ever watched Princess Diaries where they throw darts at balloons full of paint? I think that would be so fun!”
I feel like our souls know each other.
And before you know it, “make an abstract painting” was added to our “To Do Before the Summer Ends” List – trying to get everybody’s schedules to coincide so that we can all do it together at the same time is another matter entirely.
We got to the point where we knew we would do it sometime THIS WEEK. At the same time, I was also expecting a letter in the mail from a friend in Smithers. I love getting mail. I probably checked the box 10 times a day in anticipation. Those mail carriers are sneaky little dodgers, you know. I could have checked, found nothing, gone to the bathroom, checked again and found something. When I finally did get it, I was so pleasantly surprised. This friend had made me a card containing a letter filled with nothing less but how awesome she thinks I am. Simply for being my unique and crazy self. (Elena, if you’re reading this, I’m SO writing you back. This doesn’t even count.)
But one thing in particular that stuck out to me was the quote she’d written inside the card:
“Life is a great big canvas and you should throw all the paint you can on it.” (Danny Kaye)
I have always regarded myself as having a “colourful” life, but I had never really considered that this made me an artist. Remember, I’m the girl that messes up everything she puts her hands to; I might as well have no hands for all the beauty I’m able to create with them. But here was someone who had been silently watching my life and admiring the picture I was creating with it, all the while I saw nothing but mistakes, clashing colours and awfully morphed shapes that made no sense. And maybe…maybe she’s not the only one. Maybe she’s one of those rare people who would pay a million bucks for a toddler’s finger painting because it’s not about the quality of the artwork – it’s who it comes from and the potential they have to become someone fully, beautifully realized, inside and out.
With this encouragement in mind, I tackled our project yesterday with gusto. I blew up balloons, filled them with paint using a turkey baster, and pinned them to that wall with determination – I even had 2 of them explode all over me while I was pinning them and didn’t really care. My body became a bit of an abstract painting itself.
The four of us looked proudly at our board full of balloons, just waiting to be popped, when we realized: we have no darts. We have gotten this far in our goal and we have no dangerously sharp objects to throw around and hope that none of us end up in the hospital.
Did we fret? No! We adapted – 4 forks were taken from the drawer, and let me tell you, those babies will never be the same again. We have decided that they will become part of the memory on the wall instead of being used to put food in people’s mouths for any reason ever.
Our neighbour Dave pulled into his driveway as we were halfway through, and he was pretty skeptical that it would actually look nice. After we were done, he said he’d be willing to pay money for it, to which we responded, “Sorry, no deal!”
It was then I realized: I was part of this. I didn’t screw it up. I was an artist. Just because there were no set rules or lessons or even proper tools doesn’t mean we didn’t create something fantastic…something amazing…something BEAUTIFUL. This is going to hang on our wall. If it wasn’t in my house, I’d be fricken jealous.
I am an artist. You are an artist. Kinda like…I am the Eggman. You are the Eggman. But only I am the Walrus, so too bad for you, Kookookachu.
But, no seriously. Everyone has been given the ability to create something amazing and that makes you an artist even if you never use paint. You just do your best to put all your colour, pizzazz and life into what you’re creating and don’t listen to the haters. You’re always going to have them. But you’re also always going to have at least one person who’s willing to pay money to see what you’re going to make next.
Not that it will be easy. Guaranteed, you’re going to work hard on something only to have it unexpectedly explode all over you. But that’s when you’re given the chance to let your own self become a work of art as well.
It’s like you can’t lose – you’re either creating or you’re being created. I love those kinds of odds.