Though the creative dry spell I've been dealing with lately has not yet abated, I still fancy myself something of an artist. There's all the stuff I've done for Cannonball of course, but I've also exhibited and sold a few of my more "serious" pieces. For the most part I've created primarily for myself, but I'll admit--I really enjoy showing my work to others and, for better or worse, thrive on getting compliments and praise for my efforts.
My love of drawing began the minute I could pick up a writing utensil, and as far back as I can remember, whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I'd say, "An artist and a scientist!" Though I've ended up dedicating most of my adult life to the pursuit of a musical career, neither of those early ambitions has ever entirely abated.
My mom had a saying when we were young: "If you're bored, find something constructive, creative, or helpful to do, or I'll think of something for you!" This usually meant that if we were caught laying around doing nothing, she'd assign us some chores. One reliable way to avoid cleaning bathrooms for as long as possible was to pull out some paper, unload the crayon box or some watercolors, and get creative at the kitchen table. This was a daily ritual and I'm sure I contributed to the demise of several large trees by the time I was 7.
One of the most significant moments in my artistic development happened while we were living in our little apartment on Russell Street in Holladay--interestingly, about 2 blocks from where I live now. My aunt Julie was staying with us at the time and I have fond memories of her hanging out with us outside while we made bows and arrows, reading to us out of "The Clan of the Cave Bear", and sitting at the table while we drew. She had a black leather jacket with "Guns 'n' Roses" on the back (which at the time seemed evil in the coolest possible way), and was one of the adults I idolized most. I remember her being creatively inclined as well, though I've been trying unsuccessfully all morning to recall something specific that she drew...
Anyway, we were all sitting at the table one day with a spread of watercolors and I was painting some sort of landscape (knowing me, there was probably a horse, bird, or unicorn in there as well). My habit at the time, I must have been about 5, was to paint a thick blue line across the top of the page...the sky of course! I suppose it's an understandable mistake. Maybe it evolved from hearing the "Chicken Little" story and imagining that the sky was some sort of roof overhead that could chip, or crack, or even fall down occasionally.
My aunt Julie looked over at what I was doing and asked me why I was painting the sky that way. I was confused because I didn't know of any other way one could paint the sky. She asked if she could borrow my paintbrush and show me a trick. I was probably a little reluctant at first because even at that young age I was proud of my art and didn't want anyone ruining one of my masterpieces. But it was aunt Julie, so I handed her the brush.
She dipped it in my glass of painting water and put it down right on top of the bold blue line of my sky. I watched as she zig zagged a wash of blue down from the top of the page and brought an ever-thinning swath of color to meet a horizon that suddenly gained perspective and depth. It was incredible! I was stunned! It was one of those moments when something clicks in your brain and you just go,"Wow...I get it!" I don't remember if I reacted much outwardly, but from that point on I could see things differently.
I was reminded of this incident after reading a comment Julie made on my post yesterday. I searched and searched through a pile of old drawings my mom had saved from when I was little, but unfortunately wasn't able to find the specific one from this story. I did find a bunch of others I'd forgotten about though and enjoyed looking back at some of my earliest efforts. This little watercolor is obviously one I would have done at some point after the sky revelation. Thanks for all the fun times Julie:)