Monday, December 04, 2017

The New Year Resolution

At the end of 2016, I turned fifty, and a friend dared me to try 50 new things, in the year, as an exercise in growth, a challenge to make adventures, seek new experiences. And, of course, the New Year prompts us to think of resolutions. I decided it would be a new thing to be an art student. I have dabbled, and been wishful, all my life... "Gee, I wish I were an artist. Golly, I'd like to paint pretty things." But I hadn't seriously applied myself, practiced, pushed through the phase where I made truly awful stuff, or endured the dull practice-practice-practice. So, I made a New Year Resolution... be an art student, an amateur. Be humble, ask questions, try different styles, and practice-practice-practice. I made myself buy a sketchbook, and I didn't tear out the bad sketches, or lean too heavily on an eraser. I just kept trying. And... the really hard part is sharing. No. Actually... even a little bit harder than letting people see what I've painted, is looking through Pinterest, or Instagram, or in books and magazines, and seeing beautiful art, skilled works, talent, success. Knowing that, even with all my practice, all my earnest attempts, I am still in a phase of truly awful stuff learning. I am a student, and amateur... to love. Maybe my best talent is in being familiar with my humility, so that I can encourage others to try something new, take a chance, be unskilled and open to discovery. It's not easy, but I feel thankful to have taken the chance, to have begun.

Sharing is hard. And sometimes it feels like my greatest success is not dipping my dirty brush into my tea. I don't have to share, I know. And I'm not sharing all of them... I counted 89 paintings done since the end of December, last year. So, what makes me dare to share? I think it helps me gage my progress, and it forces me to work harder. I know I need practice, to gain more skill, and work at learning. Honestly, I am more convinced that I should stick with chicken wrangling than pursue art. Retreating would be a relief... almost.

When I began all this painting, I stuck to the dare... to paint a variety of subjects in a variety of styles, even pushing myself to tackle "hard" things, like architecture, anatomy, realism. Eventually, I found myself drawn to rat-mouse-people. So, what's with all the rats? I even have a Ratty-Rat" label. I think it's to do with Lillian Virginia Mountweazel, the dearest ratty-rat ever. She inspired a lot of wishful art daydreams, because I wanted to depict her, her sweetness, her appeal, and charms. She was like a little person, with personality. She was enchanting, and I wished so much I could convey everything I loved about her, create adventures and stories she could visit, live in.

And so, it's mostly rats. Rats that could be mousy, and are a bit like dear little people, Borrowers, maybe. Pure fancy, whimsical, hopeful. Ratty-rats by an amateur, for me to love.

Works in progress. I keep sketching and practicing. I still attempt new subjects, like a dog, or a snowy village. I cringe seeing them in photographs, because the flaws seem to blow up, glaring at me, taunting me. I think, oh, that needs work. And the shading is all wrong. How did I miss that spot? But. Never mind. They are works in progress, like me.


Sara at Come Away With Me said...

I am sure you see flaws the rest of us do not notice. It's always that way for the one who creates! I've been wondering if you were illustrating a Christmas story or something. Your little mice have a certain charm all their own. I like your paintings.

Anonymous said...

I love your paintings. They're completely charming and the characters in them shine through. You definitely have a talent - for capturing special moments, the feel-good times - I so hope you carry on with your paintbrush. I hope you've had many good and memorable moments in your milestone year and have got through those 50 challenges. I'll be 60 in November next year and I may set myself some gentle challenges - life is always a work in progress! Have a great Christmas and all best wishes for 2018

Angie said...

These are all ADORABLE!!! I love the Christmas/Winter Ratty-rats!!!