While walking on my treadmill lately I've been revisiting my art school years. There are two or three sketches from that time frame on a bottom shelf of a workbench next to my treadmill in the basement and I keep looking down at them as I walk. I found them last summer when attempting to clean the basement. They are stained with mold and are smelly. Even still, I've been thinking about framing them. Not because I think they are good but because they seem to be a place marker in the growth of my art. A place where I stopped. A place I'm compelled to revisit. In a way framing them would be a way to honor that place. A way to honor my gift.
At the end of my time there my preferences were leaning to the depiction of the human form, shadows, negative space, orbs and symbolism. My color work was not where I wanted it to be. I figured that would come with time and practice. But it wasn't long after I graduated that I just stopped doing "my" art. I stopped doing it for a lot of reasons and for no reason at all.
Even though I stopped pursuing "my" art I never stopped drawing. I wove my ability to draw into my everyday life. My favorite subject matter became my children, my garden, animals, and characters from mythology and fantasy. I fulfilled my need to make things. I planted a garden, landscaped my yard, made stained glass windows, and built rooms onto my house. I became a parent. I raised my family. All of this and much much more would result in who I am and the art I create. I lived my life.
Now there is now. I traveled beyond "my" art and back again. That certainly doesn't negate any of the work I have done in the between. What I once saw as a road bypassing "my" art I now realize was very much part of "my" art. (Don't two parallel roads get you to the same location?) It was the building blocks I needed to take me back to the place marker that I left behind. It was also the growth and maturity I needed to allow me to continue with focus. I'm actually very proud of all of my work through the years. I've sold many pieces through galleries. I've also gifted a large part of my work to family and friends. I design, make and sell art jewelry. All of it has been "my" art.
These days I've started to say "I can" and "I am" instead of "I can't" and "I'm not". I look at my work from the past, compare it to the work I currently do and I recognize that I do have a personal color palette that came about through time and practice. I allow myself to work in whatever medium I want, do whatever subject matter I choose and explore more than one style of art. Is my work good? Does it speak to others in the way I want it to? I don't know. I hope so. Even if it doesn't I'll just keep painting in the shadows.