"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Monday, November 21, 2011

Who's thankful?

When I was young, I was destined to be an artist. My mother's side of the family all drew and painted. My mother's brother was a professional artist. He spent a good chunk of his life working at ad agencies and drawing whatever schlock they required, but he also drew and painted and sculpted prolifically, and was finally able to leave the advertising world behind and support his family on his artwork.

Everyone saw my potential. I could make a tree look like a tree! I could draw Fred Flintstone and I was only ten! So even though my favorite thing to do was tell tales (which I did, using my crayons, see the Crime Fiction Collective blog on this subject), I was happy to go down the rainbow-colored road with ma familia.

When you're a kid and your parents and grandparents are all screaming BRAVO every time you pick up a paintbrush, what else is there to do?

After one year as an art major at Millikin University, I discovered two important things:

1. If I really wanted to be an artist, I was going to have to fight my parents' idea of artistic quality in order to forge my own artistic identity and vision.

2. If I didn't get out of my parents' house soon, I would have more in common with Van Gogh when he was going crazy than when he was being a brilliant artiste.

Either way, it was going to be uphill all the way. My discovery led to my decision to marry my boyfriend and "start living my life." It was not a wise decision, but I folded those lessons learned into future choices. We'll leave the discussion of how that worked out for a later time.

I didn't save much of my artwork from my youth. The only thing I have is a rather bizarre painting of a girl in a one-horse open sleigh. I do have one remnant from my year at college: an animation I did for my Winter Break class, a one-month session. In four short weeks, I drew and colored over 1800 pictures, took the stack to my uncle to be shot with his 16-mm camera, then took the film to be processed. Being the Stone Age, the film had a turnaround of five days. This meant I really had three weeks to do everything else.

I remember finishing the camera work at 3:30 in the morning and sleeping until about 4:00 p.m. the next day. My dad was kind enough to take the film in to be developed.

My instructor screened it in my presence. He not only loved it, he pronounced me "twisted." Art professors love twisted students.

For years, the film traveled around with me, spending time with the mayo in my fridge. At some point, I had the contents transferred to videotape. The VHS version also wandered from address to address. Yesterday, it dawned on me that VHS was moving on to greener pastures, so I had Dale transfer it to a DVD, which I then loaded on my computer and fiddled with. It is a completely silent film, so I added some sound effects. They are, admittedly, less than stellar. Perhaps my son could write a soundtrack for it. Just sayin'.

At any rate, for your viewing pleasure, here is the reason we can all be thankful I am not an artist today. (Note: it is also the reason to be thankful I am not an actor.)


Tameri Etherton said...

Okay, first of all, love the little flick!

Second, what is that super awesome smock you are rockin? It just needs a little bedazzling and it's ready for the big time.

Third, I love you short. Wait, I said that, oh, well. It's true. You're twisted and we all think that's a very good thing.

Gayle Carline said...

The super awesome smock was at one time a super short, super cute dress in high school, but when college rolled around, I added jeans to the equation, along with a sheer blouse underneath (it came with a mock turtleneck). It was the college girl general uniform: jeans, plus either our mini-dresses from high school or interesting tops we bought at the thrift store.

That animation is twisted. I drew a sweet little hairy, animated Cousin Itt and what does he do? Destroy the environment with his clown shoes. I'm sure there's some deep symbolic meaning about the whole thing, but I was too busy going for the grade at the time.

You know, your typo in the last paragraph is funny. "I love you short." I realized you mean you loved my short FILM, but it's nice that you don't mind that I'm only 5'2". LOL

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