The Way We Lied

Helen
1

There are some things I know I simply couldn’t ever do. I mean, they are just not in my nature. I don’t mean unkind or unnatural things, I just mean like talking in public for instance. David has to do it all the time of course, as an MP, and I’ve seen Caroline say a few words in front of a small audience too, but I simply couldn’t do it. I’d be mortified. And I couldn’t work with builders like Sarah’s husband Nick does either, or do advertising like Charles. Well I suppose that is the tiniest bit creative, so maybe that’s closer to what I can understand. But having to always agree exactly with a client’s deAlex would be so boring and unsatisfying.
But then when someone, like Sarah for instance, says they can’t think what to give someone for their birthday and I say, well can’t you make them something, they say oh no I couldn’t possibly, I’m not creative like you. Because that’s what I am. I always have been. Always drawing, painting, making models and cards. And I don’t understand how people who don’t make things find any fulfilment in their lives. To me it is just like breathing. It’s an essential part of me, it’s who I am.
But having said that, I have to admit that I am at a bit of a dead end right now. I seem to have been painting the same kind of still life for about ten years and although I sell the odd one and that’s ever so encouraging, I really feel as if I’m running out of steam. I can’t go on doing jugs of flowers for ever, can I?
Oh dear, I don’t think I’ve progressed at all since my art college days. Some people were really wild then, throwing paint at canvases, sticking on rubbish, constructing sculptures out of old junk, but I was always conventional and stuck to the subjects I liked. I suppose it didn’t do me any harm, as it was very acceptable work when I trained as a teacher.
And crazy constructions would not have been much help when I was finally teaching at that very proper little girls school. Can’t imagine the mums in their estate cars and the dads in banking and the sweet little dears in pretty uniforms liking an avant garde art teacher! Oh no, it was keep on with the pretty flowers, just keep them coming.
And then a few years on, with no time for my own work, along came the children and even less time for my painting. So when I did finally want to get back into it, when the kids were full time at school, I had almost totally lost my confidence. I’d done bits and pieces over the years of course, birthday cards and things like that, but not full scale paintings for ages. So I just did a few pictures for the house and then friends saw them and liked them and I thought oh well, maybe I’m not so bad after all, maybe I should do more. It made me feel more sure of myself and then what boosted my confidence even further was helping out at the school, just supervising the art sessions really and then the head asked if I would do an after-school art club and then I got into a summer activities programme.

to be continued June 16

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