HER ABANDONED PASSION TO PAINT

She loved that oversized shirt which was always covered in paint. Well, it wasn’t oversized. She was a little girl, and it was her mother’s old shirt. Everyone in art school had some kind of weird clothing, and no one was bothered by it. It seemed everyone was satisfied with each drop of gouache on their parents’ old clothes. Probably, kids would have been more careful if their ‘good’ clothes were not covered and saved from the possible damage. Maybe it was a part of the teaching process. Maybe kids were taught not to be afraid of disasters that might happen during the creative process. One drop of red painting on jeans might trigger the hurricane called ‘mother.’ Besides, it was always cold in the art school. The thick walls of the art school did not let even the brightest ray of sunshine to enter the building and make it more pleasant for young creative souls. Though, another layer of clothing helped not to freeze as well.

The image of a female standing behind the easel is romantic. However, there was no romance in art school. Well, the only romantic thing was its location. The old town. Thus, if kids had classes on the top floor, they might have seen red rooftops of other buildings. That’s all. The corridors were dark. In the evening they seemed like a scene from the horror movie. However, only other frightened students showed up from the dark corners. Any other dangerous creatures were hiding in the mysterious corridors and classes of the art school. The main accents of the classes were cracked windows and old easels. The wind can easily get inside the classroom any time it wanted and freeze tiny students’ fingers. The easels… They were old, covered in paint, curse words and phone numbers. Nevertheless, it was an art school; desks and easels looked like adopted from the poor high-school.

(c) Javier Diaz

Remember a girl we talked in the first paragraph? It’s the same Margareth we have talked earlier. She showed her interest in art when she was a kid. She loved painting, and her mother assigned her to art school when she was 7. During several years in art school, she was noticed by one teacher. It was a strange woman who had been married to a well-known compositor. Nevertheless, she saw a talent in childish Margareth’s paintings; a girl did not like her at all. Why? It’s hard to tell. Maybe sweet words made her feel uncomfortable. She was shy and probably had some self-esteem issues no one had noticed back then. Even if someone asked why a girl did not like the teacher, she couldn’t tell a clear reason why. Indeed, kids cannot understand their feelings and emotions. They cannot understand themselves. Even adults cannot explain why they dislike some people. Feelings are hard to describe. Even to ourselves.

However, if someone would have told Margareth to listen to the teacher and appreciate her words, maybe she would have stayed in the art school for a little bit longer. Maybe, she wouldn’t have divorced with her passion for covering the white paper with colours. However, no one advised that little girl to focus on her talent and practice. All she ever heard was other kids from a high-school laughing that she would become just like their crazy ginger-haired art teacher. Indeed, that woman was neurotic and had no idea how to work with kids who found arts a ridiculous lesson. Just like any other strange kid, Margareth also wanted to fit in. She honestly agreed that art teacher was slightly insane and the idea of becoming like her was scary. Though, it’s hard to tell which reason had the bigger impact on her decision to quit art school and start a series of disappointment to her mother.

When she was twelve or thirteen, she said goodbye to her old friends. The gouache and paintbrushes were used only as much as she had to in high-school. It’s only 45 minutes once a week. She hated that class with all her heart and soul. She forgot all those compliments, admiration and beliefs expressed by the art teacher. She forgot the thing she used to do for hours without getting bored. Even if she made a dozen of similar paintings of trees, sea or abstract pieces that had no meaning. Probably, it was feelings and emotions she couldn’t express in any other way. A few huge boxes with old paintings stored in the lumber room reminds an artist she could have been.

(c) Mike Petrucci

Later in her life, Margareth tried to renew her friendship with her old friends. Once she transferred to a gymnasium, she met people who had their own ‘thing.’ Some of them were singing in a choir; others were dancing, painting or doing various sports. No one was afraid of becoming a ridiculous art teacher, dumb basketball player or any other crazy character. After a year or two, she started feeling something during art classes. Maybe it was because of a lovely art teacher who enjoyed her work and tried to involve anyone in artsy activities. She always tried to encourage everyone. During one 45-minute forced art therapy, Margareth became nostalgic. She remembered how much she enjoyed the smell of gouache and having tons of different brushes standing in the dirty jar. She remembered the smell of art books that kids were not allowed to touch with their smudged fingers. She remembered she saw the majority of these reproductions and admires those interesting stories about authors, their lifestyle, personalities, and their source of inspiration.

After months of thinking, Margareth signed up to the art school again. She remembered her childish dream to became a designer and maybe it would be nice to study arts in university? She had a romantic and girlish vision of life. She had a blurry purpose and a dream.  Though, the comeback to art school was not as smooth as she thought it would be. There’s no surprise that years without practicing dropped her down to the entry level. Probably, she was expecting to be as good as she was back then. She did not evaluate the facts that some of those kids were studying, painting, drawing and creating without taking a break. Obviously, they were better than she was. Though, if she would have truly believed in her talent and herself, she would had realized that she needed to practice more and put more effort in order to reach her naïve dream to study something creative.

(c) Freestocks.org

On one of the first days, Margareth had a class with a teacher who admired her when she was a kid. The girl was interested whether she remembered her or not. The teacher was checking the attendance and Margareth’s heart was beating faster and faster. When she heard her surname called, she quickly said ‘I am’ and waited for what might happen next. The teacher raised her head and looked around the classroom. She looked at Margareth and smiled with her thin lips – ‘We have met before, right?’ She felt relieved, excited and a little bit stressful because that teacher remembered the little artist she had no longer been. Nevertheless, she expected to hear something encouraging like she was used to; she did not receive any compliment or motivating word. The feeling of being not good enough dropped her self-esteem even more. She started questioning her dream. Maybe, she had wasted her talent; maybe she had never had a real talent, and everything was just a big bullshit. She starts skipping classes and only attended drawing lessons because she told herself that mixing colors and doing magic on paper is not her thing anymore. However, she lost her motivation quickly. After few months she quit art school again. Though she still has a reminder and a symbol of her improvement. It’s a picture of a chair. The chair is imperfect. One of its legs lack of perspective, some shadows do not look realistic; however, it was the best picture she had ever drawn. It became a reminder that she had something inside her that requires lots of patience, stubbornness, and practice. Of course, these thoughts are by grown-up Margareth. Teenagers rarely have such wisdom and realization of what they have to do.

Sometimes Margareth passes by the art school. The building is renovated from the outside, but she wonders whether it is still cold inside? What has changed there? Is that teacher still teach there? How old could she be? What would have happened if she wouldn’t have quit for the first time? Or at least if someone would have stopped her from making the same mistake twice. What if someone would have encouraged her to trust herself more? Sometimes Margareth sees girls leaving the art school or rushing to lesson from the paper shop. She starts walking slowly and things whether they are dealing with the same issues as she was their age. Will they manage to graduate or will they repudiate the thing they love doing the most? She silently hopes they won’t follow her path.  Hopefully, they will become professional artists, designers, painters, architects, tailors, sculptors or amazing and inspiring art teachers. Or at least they just a have a hobby; a creative escape from the mad adult world.

***

(c) Abigail Keenan

Margareth has an uncle who is an artist. Unfortunately to her creative soul, her relatives were always fighting, and she did have an opportunity to spend lots time in a house covered with paintings, books, and other artsy things. That family has something strange and unique. Spending time with them was always a refreshing and exciting activity. They were telling stories she never heard anyone talking. However, for other relatives, it was just a vanity fair; a never-ending bragging about an amazing life. But Margareth has never thought that way and later in her life she realized that all these negative talks about them were a pure jealousy. Her aunt had the most successful life compared to her elder sisters. She is still living the dream others stopped dreaming of. Margareth clearly understood that some stories were too crazy or ridiculous to be true. But all people do that. Their social status doesn’t matter. People always tend to tell more beautiful or exciting stories based on little life moments and events. Her relatives’ higher social status did not bother Margareth at all. She did not care how much lies or hidden facts were untold. Those stories were different. That’s what mattered to her. They were from the life she had barely seen. She did not feel any jealousy. She was inspired. It was like listening to fairy tales while eating from the beautiful porcelain plates and drinking delicious red wine. What can be better for a young lady who wants to dream more than live?

Her aunt and uncle made a significant impact during her childhood. Margareth remembers how her relatives were excited to organise the exhibition of her paintings when she was a kid. The little girl was excited and inspired by that idea. But she also felt something heavy and sad when she heard her mother and grandmother giggling. Who would go to the child’s exhibition? Ridiculous. Indeed, it sounds bombastic. However, now Margareth clearly understands the intentions of those two crazy relatives. They are both creative, they are both teachers, and they understand what would that mean to a kid. No one was talking about publishing a press release on a local paper about an exhibition. Or maybe they would… Oh well. It should have been a family gathering with some artists or teachers from aunts and uncle’s circle. Such an event would have been a great motivation and encouragement to keep going, keep painting, keep practicing. It was all about support. Probably, you can get a feeling that this little gathering has never happened. Why? One of the reasons was skepticism of her family. Another reason was never-ending fights between her relatives. After many years, Margareth still remembers those good intentions. She keeps wondering, what might have happened if that exhibition would have come true? Maybe, she would have focused on her creative side and graduated from art school. Or at least, she wouldn’t be afraid of taking a paintbrush now and dropping a red drop of a gouache on her oversized shirt. Maybe she would have a creative escape from the mad adult life.

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