- "This above all — to thine ownself be true;" Polonius, Act I, scene iii in Hamlet
- "Know thyself" - Socrates
On Saturday I attended my third painting class. Our assignment was to paint a still life. The items were staged the platform are some of the items you see to the left. I wondered how in the world was I going to do that.
Our teacher assured us that we would leave class with the beginnings of the portrait. I was not convinced. I muddled through the landscape last week, this was going to be much harder.
I got all of my tools set up, filled three tubs with water and waited to begin. We were going to be working with cadmium red and cadmium yellow, alizarin crimson and pthalo blue. Nice colors, but I am still thinking I cannot do this.
Our instructor asked us to take out our sketch books (we needed a sketchbook???? Oh no). I actually used my small note book and drew one image per page. Let me go back for a minute.
Before we were asked to take our our sketchbook, we were told that we had to draw the images on our paper before we painted them. "Uh, Oh.....I can't draw, no way no how.. I am a good tracer, not a drawer." I was ready to pack up and go home. Then the instructor said to draw a circle, square, triangle, rectangle and an ellipse in our sketchbook. "Ok, I can do that." She then explained that anything you are going to draw is made up of one of these structures, the bottle is a rectangle for the neck, half circle for the rounded part, ellipse for top and bottom connected by two straight lines. The base of the wine glass, a triangle rounded out and so forth.
That day I sketched the bottle, the wine glass, the apple, the lemon that looks like a football (I need to work on it) and some grapes. I drew like I was sitting in my bedroom at the age of 10. I drew and painted and laughed and grew.
On my way home I thought about a question that has haunted me for years, when did I start telling myself that I could not draw? When did I start doubting myself so severely that at every turn, I tell my self "I can't". I find that on a daily basis I lie to myself, I stopped writing because I told myself I was not good enough. I stopped making greetings cards because I told myself no one would want them. I stopped having fun because it was not the "adult" thing to do.
Somewhere along the line, I lost the ability to know myself, and if I don't know who I am, how can I be true to myself. If I do not know myself, how can I speak the truth to others? See, I first have to define what is my "truth". That takes a lot of introspection and it is not always comfortable.
Why did I sign-up for the art class? My outward explanation is that I wanted to learn how to manipulate and mix colors. The know myself truth is that, next year I will be attending ArtFest and taking a trip to Orvieto in Italy to explore the countryside and record my thoughts in and art journal. After looking at the work of other participants, I just didn't feel good enough. So, I needed to prepare myself by taking a class. Pretty much that is my answer for everything. I cannot to it until I take a class. However, this time I am getting much more than I bargained for because, it's making me look in the mirror and tell the truth. I have to ask myself the hard questions and begin to dig deep for the answers. Who knew all that could come from a painting class?
I combined two famous quotes into one because I have come to realize that at least for me in order to be true to myself, I have to do the work required to know myself. It starts with telling the truth myself. It does not matter what others think; it does not matter if they like my work or not; what matters is that I have used my God given talents in a manner that will bring him glory.
I always pray that God allow me to use the tools he has given me to accomplish the things he needs me to accomplish. He answered my prayer and now it is time for me to get busy. Life does not have to be as hard as I make it, instead of living the lie..."I can't." I have to life the truth...'I can".