My sister-in-law encourages me to dabble in art – she’s even said she likes some of my little sketches better than $750 paintings we’ve seen, together, at an art gallery. I’m not sure why, although I’ll admit that the thought of anyone paying $750 for the paintings we saw hanging on the gallery walls was encouraging – my first thought was, “I could do that!” And it wasn’t that they were bad, or amateurish, but that – unlike when I study a detailed, luminous, realistic, oil painting by Jacque Louis David – I honestly felt like those paintings represented an attainable goal. So does Jackson Pollock or Jo Baer, and I could do Duchamp but my husband disposed of our old porcelain toilet before I could take a Sharpie marker to it.
Sunday, I fell into her trap. “Have you been doing much art, lately?” she asked.
“No,” I said. I couldn’t think of any art projects I’d done in the past couple of months. “Not really. I’ve been writing, but that’s not art.”
“What about the sketches you’ve been posting to Instagram?”
The what? Oh. Splat! Face first, right at the feet of my biggest fan.
“Inktober! Yes, I guess I have been ‘doing art.'”
I don’t take myself seriously when it comes to art. Not the way I do with writing. It’s not a thing I can imagine doing professionally. But that’s not the point, is it? I “do art” the way some people meditate. To relax. Those sketches, if I really work on them, force me to slow down, to have patience with myself, to study and see the details in a thing.
I am learning not to compare my sketches unfavorably to artists who have spent a lifetime learning and practicing, becoming artists. I am humbled when I post to Instagram, and one or more of the artists I admire clicks the little heart. They don’t sneer; they are welcoming and encouraging. Of course, they might sneer, if I pasted my sketches on that art gallery wall with a price tag of $750. Maybe we can all have a laugh, go out for drinks on my ill gotten gains, the day I work up the nerve to do that.