Art Sake

One might assume that because I was an art major I would be artistically inclined in all things creative. One would be wrong. Assuming I have some sort of global artistic gift is like assuming someone that’s good at math is qualified to do your taxes or that any random programmer is equipped to fix your computer (which I also can’t do, so don’t ask).   I can’t design your web site or re-envision your living room layout. I couldn’t design my way out of a paper bag, if that was even a thing. I’m no more qualified to paint your bedroom then Van Diesel is to cut your hair. My skills with a paint brush are about on par with a sugar fueled toddler trying to stay inside the lines of a college anatomy coloring book.   Nicole, for instance, is far better with a paint brush when it comes to clean accurate coverage. I can tape the crap out of the room to make sure any surface not intended for paint is properly protected but I’m simply not a fan of free-balling it.   Nobody wants a clever abstract stroke or high-minded artistic interpretation when it comes to painting the kids’ room purple. The demands are much simpler here; “if you make me do a second coat I’m going staple your tongue to your forehead and paint it all purple” Nicole suggests without looking up from her razor sharp brush strokes. “I think I should go check on dinner again” I respond quickly, backing away from the paint tray.

Even my fraternity made the fatal flaw of thinking that the resident artist would excel at the Pictionary event during the Greek Olympics (college Greeks, unrelated to Socrates or super thick yogurt). Makes sense, right?!   While I am quite the playah when it comes to a game of Pictionary my true skill lie in my ability to decipher the wild chicken scratch of my teammates. When it comes to the drawing portion of the program, we call to the forefront two of my biggest issues,… inability to deal with tight deadlines and fear of performing in front of groups. Combine these two features (they’re not bugs, they’re features) and my potentially artful drawings devolve into the very same chicken scratch that the rest of the participants are producing but my teammates lack my interpretation skills and are unable to make heads or tails of my speedy creation. Which is precisely what happened when asked to draw “Big Girls Don’t Cry” for the first round of the completion. After a long minute of flailing and scribbling the buzzer sounded and the team filed out of the room politely pretending they could now use the extra time practicing for the upcoming volleyball event later that evening.

Like the pathetic peasant in Monty Python and the Holy Grail that got turned into a newt,… “I got better”. As with all things, skills develop with practice and in turn bring competence and confidence. I don’t doubt my potential to be a 5-star house painter, it just wasn’t one of the practical skills I received during my under graduate work. House painting is not like drawing which is not like sculpting which is not like design work. Design, for example, is a vocabulary that one evolves over time,… currently my design fluency would be the equivalent of “See Jane run. Run Jane, run.” I would know enough to mirror the action in the second sentence but lack the experience to inject any more depth or personality into Jane or the world she inhabits; In design terms this equates to simple rules like keep things balanced, keep things consistent, never wear white after labor day,… that’s about the extent of my design knowledge.

So sure, feel free to invite me to your next DYI party, I may not earn that 5-star Yelp review but I’ll be sure to bring enough rum and coke to ensure everyone is either painting on an equal level or is unable to clearly recall who painted over the trim, the window, half of the ceiling and the miniature poodle asleep in the corner. It may not be the look you were going for but at least it’s fun to say “purple poodle” ten times fast.

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