A few months ago I was eating Chinese take-out with my husband when I cracked open my fortune cookie and read the words “You will not be truly happy until you create art on a regular basis.” Feeling silly about being inwardly moved by a fortune cookie prophecy, I tucked the tiny paper with the clear black words someplace safe, which, of course, I’ve now forgotten. Was there not, in my art room, on that very day, a partially finished mountain landscape waiting patiently for my brushes? It was gathering dust.
I had plenty of excuses for not finishing the landscape, each more reasonable and convincing than the last. I was nearing the end of a busy school year, there were 34 math tests to grade, scores of scores to enter in my digital grade book, and report card comments to write. But the little fortune cookie admonition helped me face the realization that the thing that separates the person who dreams about being an artist and the person who becomes an artist is, quite simply, time. Just as I finished my last sentence I could hear the professional artists screaming, “Is she kidding? What about that little thing called TALENT?”
With the boldness of a novice, I believe that being human, having a passion for art, and spending time doing art are the only three conditions for becoming an artist. The enjoyment of art is subjective. Rembrandt’s creation of realism with color, light, and mood is unmatchable. Picasso created magic with his juxtaposition of forms and images. Pollack stood over his huge canvases and threw the paint. My niece, Elya, creates worlds of her own with bold, impressionistic patterns of color and form.
Obviously, her accomplishments are nothing like a Rembrandt, Picasso, or Pollack. Yet, I’ll just bet that Rembrandt would have been as delighted at the creations of Elya as I am of mine. And I’ll bet he would have gently affirmed her with, “Yes, you are an artist little one.”
My once unfinished landscape now hangs, with all its imperfection, over our mantle.
The cookie was correct: In order to be truly happy I must have art in my life, in some form, every day. Like food, exercise, and companionship, art is something I need in order to feel whole. Being an artist isn’t all of who I am. I am a mother, wife, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, and teacher. But every time I enter my art room I give myself permission to simply be a little girl “working on my artist.”
My thanks to Jerry Yarnell for his 5 part online lesson for this painting, “Heaven on Earth.” Mr. Yarnell, my mentor, delivers his techniques and wisdom daily into my art studio via his online fine art academy,http://www.yarnellschool.com/.