The first thing I remember drawing was a large smiling sun with my canary yellow crayola. I was around three and still potty training. I was so serious about it that I insisted my Mother put the potty next to my work station. My ‘art studio’ was fashioned from a large square slab of cracked marble propped up on two crumbling cinder blocks but it felt like another planet to me. My whole world. Nothing could force me to abandon the details I had planned for this drawn landscape until it was molded to my exact specifications. Not even a basic human need.
That was 32 years ago and I’m still just as obsessive about my work. I have only completed two or three pieces out of hundreds that meet my standards of perfection in 32 years of pursuing life as an artist.
I’ve never had extreme judgement when I admire the work of other artists. I always find something within the concept, the technique or the emotional content that inspires me to say…”Damn, I like their work.” I never expect perfection from other human beings. Never. That’s impossible. So, why do I expect it from myself? Massive Insecurity. The ego can be a harsh mistress that controls every human impulse we have. Hell, I’d still rather piss myself then leave my art when I’m on a roll.
But things have changed since I willingly left everything I’ve ever known behind me. It is the craziest thing I’ve ever done and in the wake of that impulsive decision…a strange and almost unnerving calm has slowly crept up into my ego’s domain from the softest parts of my being. For the first time, I can see myself as that 3 year old child from a 36 year old woman’s perspective. She is here with me. Always with her tiny furrowed brow; her tongue sticking out the side of her mouth in tortured concentration as she grips her crayon so tight it breaks in her small, trembling hand. She’s still trying so desperately to achieve something she can just be proud of for once. She’s never been allowed to color outside the lines. Not by anyone. Not even by me. But, flinging myself into the unknown also means I need to let her, and in turn myself, make mistakes.
And so, as I sit on a creaky motel mattress in the middle of the noisy, crowed streets of Vietnam I realize that I can be her soft place to fall. I am all she has ever had. And when it comes to the deep-rooted pain of my childhood..she is all I have. She is finally enough.
I am starting a new painting soon. An Asian landscape with a large smiling sun overlooking a rainbow colored lake. I’m gonna wing it this time:)