I am walking now.
But when did I begin? Was it as a child with those first crayons, which I lost to the burning barrel one by one, watching them melt before my eyes because I'd left them out and this was my punishment? Was it in the fields picking wildflowers, hot pink and cornflower blue, to press between pages of a book? Or was it in middle-school art class, as I sat trying to capture things realistically with my pencil, while my friends went out the side door and got high with the teacher?
Where did this journey start? Was it when I morphed from editorial assistant to graphic designer, in a technical writing department, because I was the one who could sorta draw and was not afraid of the new computer tools? Did I start this path when I went to Paris and saw 'real art' and came home to dump my design career and become a teacher instead?
I do not know where I began. Like the spiritual pilgrim who cannot say where she first stepped onto the road, felt it beneath her feet, noticed she was not alone. I do not know.
But there are things I have done and will do to say, "I'm on a journey." Just the other day, I donated to International Arts Movement. It was easy with Paypal. Then I set off for AC Moore and filled my cart: gouache, watercolor, soft pastels, sketch books, acrylics, canvases, brushes. On my Sabbath, I sat quietly and tried out the pastels. I may not want to be an artist, but I'm thinking I should be a participant rather than just an observer. I will commit to at least a year of focused "pilgriming," making art and viewing it and reading about it and discussing it.
I feel shy participating. My skills are simple. It's like being a child in a grownup's world. Is it a coincidence that my first attempt was an empty, dead bush being graced by powder-blue dragonflies? I chose golden colors for the water over which it would lean, made mistakes that caused me to blend things I hadn't intended to blend. The bush became one with the background.
My girls said the picture looks like a desert, with the sand swirling, rising. Why yes. And perhaps that is no coincidence either. A tentative bush in the desert, graced by dragonflies, breathing blue-flamed beauty... which burns but does not consume.
Dragonfly Bush in pastels, by L.L. Barkat.