I Have Always Wanted to be an Artist
From a young age, art gave me the positive reinforcement that every kid looks for “Oh wow! this is great” “YOU drew this?” “Your art has been selected to hang in the hallway.” “would you like to design the concert program?” “Would you consider set design for the class play?” “will you paint a mural for summer camp?” “I think you should consider going to college for art.”
And that was it, the progression of my elementary school passion to the undying support of my high school art teacher to earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University. Lucky for me, I knew from an early age that I wanted to major in art because I was good at it. I couldn’t score a goal, I didn’t have any rhythm, I added when I was supposed to subtract, and I couldn’t even imagine ever being able to balance a checkbook or file my tax return… but I could draw, and that made everything OK.
How do you Know?
What if it isn’t as cut and dry as entering your freshman year with a declared major? Many of my friends didn’t know what they wanted to major in at that point, and they didn’t have to decide until we were juniors. This concept was foreign to me. “Well, what are you good at?” Often times the answer was “I don’t know.” Well heck, I’m pretty much only good at one thing, so the decision was easy for me. I even applied to Syracuse early decision and was accepted into the art program while my friends were still looking at colleges.
My husband (who does most of the amazing photos for this blog) knew just like I did, that he wanted to be an artist and a photographer. He had his hopes hung high on art from a very early age, but he didn’t pick up a camera until he was in high school. He found that he was just as passionate about photography as a teenager as he had been about art for his entire childhood. So Doug Nelson entered into Syracuse University as a freshman with a declared major of Art and Photography, earning a Bachelor of Science from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
As a side note, you may think that since we both attended Syracuse University, that we met in Upstate NY. We did not. We met right here in Orlando, Florida at a small advertising agency on E. Colonial Dr. back in the 1990’s. Life is indeed a journey.
Let’s face it, when you get your picture in the local newspaper for winning the “How to Save Energy” poster contest for the Public Service Electric and Gas Company in New Jersey, it inspires you. Winning the respect and admiration of your family and friends by doing what you love is what motivates you to follow your passion.
Maybe It Runs in the Family
Our daughter Emilie wants to be a dancer, she started dance classes at the age of 2.5 (doesn’t that make her sound like a software application?). I signed her up for a Preschool Combo class at Turning Pointe, A Dance Studio and she was forever hooked. In those days the kids did a little tapping, a little tumbling, and a lot of bumping into each other. At the recital, the dance teacher would stand in the wings behind the stage and the kids would look off to her for guidance when they forgot what they were supposed to be doing. It was so cute. Doug and I were so proud of our little dancer (on her second recital) when she put on her white feathered costume and got out on the stage to tap dance to “North to Alaska” at Lake Brantley High School.
Emilie stuck with dance and is still dancing, she’s now finishing up her sophomore year at Lyman High School. When she was five years old she came to us and informed us that she had been invited to join the competitive dance team at her studio. “You can’t just join the team, you know. You have to be INVITED and Miss Heather INVITED me.” She said very emphatically. Now Miss Heather gave us some advice. “You need to know that this is a big commitment of time and money, and once she get’s started it’s only going to get bigger and bigger and bigger…..”
Miss Heather was not kidding. Last weekend we watched Emilie compete in Tampa at Tribute National Talent Competition where she danced a solo, a duet, and multiple small and large group numbers with her current studio, Rolann’s School of the Dance in Longwood, FL. Emilie’s has a passion for getting up on stage in front of family, friends, AND judges and showing us what she’s got. She’s not nervous, or afraid, and this self confidence has served her well in other aspects of her life. Emilie eats, breathes, and sometimes sleeps, dance. She has pinpointed her passion.
Our son Connor wants to be a writer, he’s been reading passionately since early elementary school and has been writing incredibly creative short stories and poems for just as long. Miss Fantauzzi, his kindergarten teacher, sent him home for the summer with a notebook and told him to fill it with his writing. She wanted to encourage him to follow his passion, and asked him to never ever stop writing.
These days Connor is finishing up middle school and taking FCAT testing this week. He came out to the studio today with a smile on his face to tell me that he was actually looking forward to the reading comprehension portion of FCAT which he will take over the next two days. He’s excited about the test, because he knows he will do well and he wants us all to be proud of just how well he can do. Being acknowledged for his writing fuels Connor’s fire, he’s thrilled when you want to sit down and read his most recent short story. His scores in reading and writing are always high. We don’t talk about math. NONE of us talk about math in the Nelson family.
This month we submitted one of his writing samples to an online contest. The subject was Seasons, and Connor wrote a poem that he hopes might get him published. It was very exciting to sit with him and encourage him through the process of submitting his writing sample.
Representing the end of an era
Through wisdom he knows of the necessity of loss
That when the leaves abandon their home
They do so for the prosper of future generations
Overwhelming rushes of grief are imminent
Consistent with the waning of the moon
And the rushing of the stream
He frets not on straining the sands of time through his fingers
Not does he attempt to funnel them
Sprawled on the cushions of the much anticipated deathbed
He grows impatient of his condition
No longer wishing to remain in this eerie confinement
Reality is now a prison
And he the prisoner
Weighed by the shackles of his expiration
The man comprehends the importance of fair wells
Serving them with a melancholy satisfaction
Like the peaceful flutter of seasonally tinted leaves
Fall is the gatekeeper to the next stage
A stanza from Connor’s Poem Seasons. If you are interested in reading the whole poem, click here.
Never Too Late
It’s never too late to find your passion. When I teach art workshops I consistently have folks who tell me that art was a passion of their youth that they have made their way back to, or that art is a new passion for them later in life. My students are at a point where they have the time and resources to try something new, or revisit something old. Art brings people relaxation, joy, and self confidence at any stage of life.
My last class in Sedona, AZ I worked with a woman who was an accountant. “I have no drawing or painting skills, I am not an artist.” she told me “I am an accountant, I like things that ‘add up.'” Debby reminded me of this over and over again as I praised her for stepping outside of her comfort zone and trying something completely on the other side of her brain. She said she just wanted to try something new and different, she felt that this would expand her horizons and ultimately be good for her. I told Debby that the best thing about art and literature was that if you made valid points in your assessment, any interpretation could be considered correct. She told me that she was very happy that 2+2 ALWAYS equals 4.
Life is a journey, it’s never to late to try new things and pinpoint your passion.
for being part of my