Thursday, November 16, 2006


When I was about eleven, I decided that I wanted my artwork to have that professional feel. I was tired of the five-and-dime variety of paints, those sickly ovals and the cheap plastic cases and the brushes that left bristles all over the page. I wanted tubes—real tubes—of paint.

And so my Mom and I went to the art store downtown, and I browsed among the papers and canvases, the tubes and pots. I admired the silky brushes and the skeletal wooden easels. When we found what we were looking for, I was thrilled: it was a lovely collection of twenty tubes of paint, with cobalts and ochres and all the best sorts of names for colors, there on the tube.

But I was shocked by the price. My Mom said not to worry, it was a gift, I would enjoy it. But of course I worried. I worried so much that every time I squeezed a little paint into my mixing dish I would immediately regret that I had squeezed too much. And when the mountain or the tree didn’t come out right (and it never really did), I would put the paints away and wonder if I should have gotten them in the first place. This happened every time.

I don’t know why I was-am like that. It's not as if I lived through a war eating tulip bulbs like Audrey Hepburn or something (not that she would worry about wasting cobalt). Why did I worry so much about using up, wearing out? I knew my parents would buy me another one, if I wanted it.

Eventually, I became so worried about wasting the paint that I stopped altogether. In a few years the paint dried up and the tubes cracked, revealing useless innards. There was no going back.

Sometimes, I think that the moral of the story is the obvious one: carpe diem, gather ye rosebuds/ paint your mountains (however bad they are) while ye may. Mostly, though, I just think of another, easier moral: Don’t even try to make art. It’s not really worth it, in the end.


Blogger mega74 said...

I respectfully disagree: make art. Even though the paint dried up, here it is, in all its crusty glory, a new, different painting.

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know--I am months behind, but I am enjoying myself, even if I am the only one who will ever read my comments (hmmm, bit telling, that).

I couldn't help but wonder, M- did you purposefuly neglect the extent of your childhood neurosis, or is this a (legitimate) case of repressed memory? Remember the run-ins with Strawberry Shortcake, the reluctance to allow others to use your favorite markers? How deeply might we explore this, Mr. Crayon?

9:28 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home