I am no Picasso or Monet. But I love art. I used to think I was an artist. Or should I say, I believed I was. When I was younger, I was so creative. When I was in the 6th Grade, my Adviser would ask me to draw animals, people and things on her test papers for her kindergarten class. I enjoyed it. She offered to pay me for the effort but I never accepted it. I just liked doing it. There was always an adrenalin rush. Seeing the smile on my Adviser’s face each time I’d hand her my work would instantly take me to Cloud 9.
In High School, I made money out of designing bookmarks and birthday cards. In college, other students in our neighbourhood asked me to design covers of terms papers or prepare visual aids for their class reports. I remember carefully outlining the human anatomy on a large piece of ‘cartolina.’ I hold dear the memory of choosing the colours and the shades and making sure it was an excellent job I was doing. The feeling inside was extraordinary. It felt liberating. I cannot explain to you exactly how it felt but it was beautiful. I wanted to take Fine Arts but didn’t. My father said there was no money in it. He may be right. So I travelled a completely different road. Years passed. I’d still draw from time to time. I’d use charcoal to draw a face. I’d use ordinary pens when I’d try caricature. But the feeling was alarmingly diminishing. Slowly. The inspiration was going. I think it was dying.
A few years ago, I still had the inspiration to paint. In fact, I painted a garden in oil on canvas and I left it hanging on the wall at the entrance to my bedroom back home. That was the last time I ever did it. Then years after that, I realised that I have completely lost it. The artist in me has gone. It felt like I lost a part of myself. It dawned on me one night whilst James had gone to work. I took my pencils and my drawing pad. I took a beautiful postcard with a photograph of the Norwich Castle. I started to outline the castle on my pad. It all went wrong. My hand felt completely different, it wasn’t the hand that used to love to draw. The lines all went to the wrong directions making the drawing look absolutely awful. I crossed it out. Tried doing it again on another page. Then another. And another one. Then I just stopped. I looked up the ceiling. The phone rang. It was James. ‘Are you okay?’ He asked. ‘Yes, Love, I’m fine. I’m trying to draw something.’ I said. ‘But I couldn’t. I think I cannot do it again.’ I continued. James just chuckled. He didn’t take me seriously. Why would he? He never saw the artist in me. When I met him, I had already stopped painting. Although he saw the old painting I did a few years ago, it wasn’t very impressive. My husband never met that side of me. The side of me that rejoices inside just looking at the strokes of a painting or the child in me that admires the ingenuity of miniatures and dolls or how the artists created the smoke by use of cotton, colours and light to devise a realistic representation in museums. I don't think he ever noticed the glitter in my eyes as I'd study the structure of dollhouses and the tiny little things inside them or my excitement to look at the beauty of the colours of sunset. These all make me imagine myself capturing the shapes and colours on paper or canvas. That side of me that used to give me a lift, a certain ‘high.’
I left most of my stuff in the Philippines so when I came here last year, I didn’t have my art books with me. Somehow I miss them. I miss looking at those pictures. So I started buying art books again. I wanted it to come back. I wanted to look at the trees again and see their outline and imagine what shades of green to use if I use watercolour or oil or pastels…I want that adrenalin rush again. I want the inspiration again. I want it so badly that the books are piling up.
Then right after my birthday this year (May), having been to the Lake District, I felt a sudden rush of inspiration. For some reason, having seen illustrations and works of Beatrix Potter (Beatrix Potter is an English author and Illustrator who created Peter Rabbit. To learn more about her, please click here) gave me a sudden flow of excitement to draw again, to do what I love to do. No, I do not dream of being a famous painter. I just love art. Full stop. I don’t paint perfectly and I think sometimes my sketches suck big time. But to be able to do it again makes me happier and makes me enjoy life even more. I believe that inside each of us is an artist waiting to come out. It just takes that tiny bit of inspiration, that flow of excitement, that feeling that makes your imagination run wild. I believe with my whole heart that each person can look up in the sky, see the clouds and imagine those shapes that resemble life on earth. I sometimes look at the patterns of a flooring at work or our carpet in the lounge at home and those tiny lines that look invisible without close examination come to life. Somehow I get them connected and in my mind make a picture of a face of a woman or a child or a man. Sometimes the curves become a tree or a beautiful farmhouse. My imagination is weird, I know, but I love it that way.
I don’t know what just happened to me at the Lake District, but this reminds me of what Rheuben (my husband’s best friend who lives in Preston) said to me about the beautiful place. He said, ‘Len, that will be the most beautiful place you will ever visit. It is a magical place. I don’t know how to describe it to you but I think it’s magic being there.’
I think I’ve experienced just that.
But even that is an understatement.The top photo is inspired by my little boy's lovely photograph. The photo below is a glimpse of my bedroom.