I used to draw when I was a kid. I was never very good at it, but it was fun. I enjoyed art class, and if my dad wanted a picture to illustrate one of his sermons, or Children's Time, he'd always ask me to do it. Mostly I drew people, faces, fairly cartoony. Or I would take my mom's old Sears and JC Penney catalogs and cut people out of them, looking for different pictures of the same models, arranging them into families and making up their histories. I wasn't creating artwork, not really; I was creating characters, telling stories about them in my head, using crayons and collage as a my medium instead of words.
I have always been a storyteller, even when I didn't realize that was what I was doing.
In seventh grade, I was one of only four kids to select art class instead of a study period. (The others were all boys. Most of the girls did chorus instead.) And I remember the year before, driving down to a nearby city to do drawing, although I remember very little about the actual doing of it. But I also remember starting to feel frustrated by my limitations as an artist. I was hopeless at doing anything really representational, and there's only so far drawing geometric patterns and childish animals, faces, and trees will get you. When we moved to California, where my new junior high only had six class periods instead of the eight or nine I'd been used to in Iowa, and there was only time to take one elective if you were on the college track, I had to choose between music and art. I picked music -- band, in those days; I started playing the flute at age 10 and was still really into it at 13 -- and at that point I pretty much stopped doing art. In college, I considered being an architect, and I even took a year-long studio course, but I was even less skilled at drafting than at freehand drawing. I can barely draw a straight line with a ruler, and I despaired of creating a true right angle. It was just too much work for not enough reward.
So I gave up on art.
I'm even less of a crafts person. My mom does a lot of fabric crafts: sewing, embroidery, knitting, quilting. She tried to teach me, and I did a little bit -- she still has patterns I embroidered, somewhere, and I made a couple of scarfs and a skirt. But I've always been a little clumsy, a little slapdash, not exacting enough to master fine details. (See above, re. straight lines and rulers.) So I lost patience with that as well, and renounced craftwork pretty much entirely. The one exception is beaded jewelry: I've always been drawn to shiny things, and particularly beads, so it was something I'd kind of always wanted to do. In 2004, when I was simultaneously unemployed and planning my wedding, I decided that learning how to bead would make a good project, so I went to a bead store (Beadissimo in the Mission, now sadly defunct) and asked them to show me the basics. They did, and I made necklaces for my bridesmaids (as well as a prototype that I kept for myself). Behold, a picture:
I still play with beads sometimes, making mostly necklaces because I don't wear bracelets and I find messing with earring findings takes more fine motor control than I really possess. I do all my beading on wire rather than string, because I can use crimp beads rather than having to tie knots. I don't do it as much anymore, because I don't trust my cats not to make problems. But I still enjoy it when I do. I've thought about learning metalworking, and that's something I may do someday. It's on the back burner for now, though.
Even though I don't consider myself a crafter or an artist, I still love the supplies. I can happily wander around a store for an hour, looking at papers and pens and paint, fingering cloth and petting skeins of yarn. In recent years, I've picked up an affectation for writing with pens in colors other than blue, black, and red, which scratches the artistic itch for me, just a bit. Sometimes I do wish I were more accomplished in the area of arts and crafts, that I hadn't let given up on them so easily. But for the most part I'm content to confine my creativity to other areas: writing, music, baking. Even if I am sometimes a little bit jealous of the cool stuff my friends can make.
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