There’s No Time to Waste
Feedback from Barbara Straley
I can remember drawing from about age four. All through school, drawing was the thing I did best. Other than drawing, I wasn’t much of a student because I just wasn’t interested.
I dreamed of going to the Kansas City Art Institute where my high school art teacher trained. It didn’t occur to me that one needed money to go to art school or college and of course I didn’t have any.
I did see that most artists had trouble making a living unless they taught school. It was 1952. I watched how people in small town Iowa watched teachers. I didn’t think I could be the paragon of virtue that teachers were expected to be and I was enough of a rebel that I didn’t want to try.
I didn’t plan life. It just sort of happened. I found a few art jobs along the way but none that paid well. I spent a lot of time doing yard work, waiting tables, and working in offices. Along the way I picked up a few college classes. I married thoughtlessly a couple of times. Had some great kids and spent the first forty plus years just trying to figure out how to grow up. Art was a fine vehicle for absorbing life’s frustrations.
Life provided a plentitude of work and very little “me” time. It wasn’t uncommon to put in 90 hour work-weeks with kid raising and managing a household on the side. Once the kids were raised I went to college while working full time. Forty years after graduating from high school, I graduated from college with an art degree – not fine art because I didn’t have time to put together the requisite show required for a fine art degree. There was little technical training along the way. Teachers would put a brush in my hands, stand me in front of an easel and give me an “A”. I thought I was a pretty good artist. Wrong! I’ve come to see that I’m sadly lacking in technical training and I haven’t put in the time just making art that it takes to be really good.
There was still the matter of earning a living. I spent 35 years working in offices knowing that if I didn’t earn a retirement income there wouldn’t be any. Office work has a way of schooling the creativity right out of a person. A person with the soul of an artist and the spirit of a rebel must hide behind banality in order to negotiate the land-mines of the political landscape of an office environment. I did learn to do that but my creativity suffered.
Finally, a month shy of my 79th birthday came blessed retirement. It was my plan to travel and paint and draw. My body had other ideas. Well, now I’m 82 and I’m still standing. I’ve told my daughter that I plan to hang around for another 20 years or so because I want to see how my six-year-old grandson turns out. He’s a little rebel who sees danger and heads right for it.
At long –last, I’m drawing and painting and completely immersed in anything having to do with art. I’ve found Youtube and wonderful tutorials especially Web Art Academy. I’m learning that I really don’t know anything about art and I want to learn. I’m working on a painting in the classic style and learning as I go. I have Youtube playing while I work and I can see how little I know and how much I still must learn to become the artist I know I can be.
I’m excited and obsessed by it all and nothing stands in my way now. It’s almost a lifetime too late but I want this experience while I still can have it. It’s stressing my budget to buy art materials. If I could win a Web Art Academy membership, it would provide the knowledge I’m desperate for without capsizing the budget.
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