When I was little I found myself alone in my Grandma’s bathroom with a pink mascara wand. I thought to myself how rich she must be with her oval bathtub and shiny makeup bag. I took it out.
We called her Gagee, it really didn’t fit her as it sort of sounds like a word you’d use for something moist… but when they tried to teach my baby brother to say “Grandmama” he used the same word as he used for dog which was “Gagee” and the name stuck.
Let me assure you, she does not look like a Gagee. I grew up knowing her as the Grandma who modeled for a living, lived an exotic life in Paris working with tall glittery photographers. She gave birth to my Mother in Panama, and was featured regularly on the cover of Elle magazine. Her hair is the same color as most all of her clothing and even her breath smells good.
The art on her walls was peculiar. She told me throughout my life that the huge one with orange darting across the texture was extremely expensive and that someday she would give it to my mother which made me feel like someday I would be extremely wealthy.
My mother didn’t wear mascara, and so this little pink mascara bottle was an exquisite find.
I put it all over my eyebrows.
It’s sort of like that with art for some people. Or writing or Jesus or running or knitting. We know we were made for it, we want to step toward it, its our own lungs, but when we sit down to put mascara on we look like a freaking lunatic.
Someone asked me recently “how do I start painting?”
I said, “you start.”
And once you start, this thing will grow in you like a love for ice cream. You’ll have so many ideas that you’ll get headaches and you can’t move your hands fast enough or quit your other jobs quick enough.
Just start putting your ideas down, I don’t care what creative outlet your thinking about. If you want to be a painter or a writer but don’t have money for canvas or a computer, do it on your walls, or on sticky notes or toilet paper for all I care. Get those ideas out onto something so that there is room for the other ones to grow and give birth in your brain.
You’re going to make stuff and you will hate the stuff you make. Your soup might taste like onions instead of what you imagined. You might end up not sleeping well because it isn’t going as well as you expected, and you might yell at your husband for leaving his underwear on the floor when really all you are mad about is that you suck at painting.
But, anyway, keep working. Keep trying.
I told the person who asked where to start, I said, “go take a class, learn about composition, and texture, and line… or just buy some cheap supplies. Put some mascara on your cheeks. I don’t care.”
Use some of your bursting creativity to help other people too. If you’re frustrated because things aren’t working out, go water your plants. And then come back. But don’t give up.
Something I have also started to do is to pray about my work, to ask God to guide whatever I’m doing, to give me ideas, to push me in the right direction.
And one day, I believe you will be making or writing or gardening and you’ll see a tiny corner of beauty, or a sentence that really hits you and you’ll think someone else must have stolen your laptop to write and you’ll say…
“I like that. I should try that again.” So you will. and then you’ll do that over and over again until it’s become your own little thing, and you’ll post it on instagram or YouTube and wait for your fortune to roll in. But then no one will like your stuff on instagram except your friends (and you are sure they’re pitying you and your work behind your back)… but because I wrote this blog or because one person cheered you on and said “you’ve got something here,” you wont quit. And you’ll discover 17000 other things that are working for you, and all of a sudden you have developed your style, your niche, and it will be wonderful.
Some people will hate it.
Those will be the hardest days.
These are the reasons a lot of people will stop creating art. All your dreams of doing it full time go down the tube over and over again because people won’t even buy what you make for 20$.
Not every artist gets successful. So, I will ask you to do whatever you’re passionate and crazy about because it’s a part of you, you know it. There are so many artists that lived their lives with their work unloved but couldn’t stop making (and are now known by the entire world.) They didn’t do it for the recognition, but because they became more alive when they worked. And now we see art in so many different ways because of their experimenting and bad paintings and sleepless nights.
I am not here to tell you it won’t take effort, it will. I have spent many late evenings attaching hardware and signing my name, painting canvas edges. But you’ve got something here. Just like I might have had something back in 7th grade when I used pastels to draw a fruit basket and one girl wearing a jean skirt with bad hair and far apart eyes pointed at it on the wall next to all of the others and said, “that one is my favorite.” Maybe that is where it all began, but we all have to start somewhere.
Even with with mascara on our eyebrows.