Paintings of Imagined Spaces & Mis-Remembered Places


Impossibilities. Becoming an artist.

I love stories about beginnings. So I will tell you mine.

My first memory is of drawing. I remembered thinking at the time that I was very good (I still have the sketch somewhere, my mom saved it). Not that it was that good but I remember thinking that it was magic. That by extension I was magic. It was almost like flying in my dreams but I was actually doing it. I was actually taking an image in my mind and making it real. I drew three large almost rectangular shaped objects attached to stick bodies layered overtop of each other in differing heights. I believe only my mother had an eye and it was a single circle within an eye. My father's rectangular head shape was floating off of the page. I was standing in front. Just a line of a body with a head. Much like a popsicle. 

It shouldn't be a surprise that I wrote in second grade that I wanted to be an artist (or a children's book illustrator) and a vet. The vet desire just turned into owning a dog and two cats. That is enough work in that department. But feeling that I was an artist, that I had to be an artist persisted. I suppose in this I was lucky. I knew what/who I was and what I wanted. 

Yet (poor me) I did well in school so of course I and everyone else thought that being an artist wasn't serious enough or perhaps a bit dicey in terms of making money (I still sometimes think this). I went to college for psychology. I was actually thinking Vet school afterwards but wasn't sure and didn't want to go into debt for something I wasn't sure about. 

I worked in mental health for a little bit, at an addiction research center and then with kids with behavioral problems. College-bound readers beware, a BA in psychology pays so little that you might as well be an artist.  Working with people is cool and interesting but progress is so slow. Can you ever "fix" someone. Is just normal good enough? What does that mean anyways? How do you measure progress in a person? I will say that the one thing I love about doing art is that you can measure what you did. I finished X painting. I started Y project. I hate X, I painted over it today. I lost my temper and threw water all over the painting when it probably would have been better to just call it quits.

Art is measurable. I can see progress when I look over my works (though I can't tell if my embarrassment at some of my earlier works is good because that means I am progressing or bad because it means I once sucked and thought I was ok and probably will think the same a few years from now). 

Did I transition from mental health to art smartly? No. I didn't really even paint very much in my unhappy years after college and before taking up art full time. I just kind of decided to give it a go. To not look for a job during a move from VA to PA. My very supportive husband (who used to sit by me in art class) just said give it a year. Evaluate then. A year turned into another year and another year. A painting turned into another painting turned into a series. And somehow along the way I became an artist.

And magically, not a vet. 

Nicole RyanComment