Bud­ding rock artist

Maryland Independent - - Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

Fun fact: if you’d ask me circa 1990 what I wanted to be when I grew up, it was an artist.

Be­fore I ever dreamed of chas­ing storms in Tor­nado Al­ley or writ­ing the great Amer­i­can novel, I thought I had some se­ri­ous draw­ing skills. I did not, but my el­e­men­tary school art teacher was re­ally nice — and I dare­say she put some un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions in my head.

That wasn’t her fault, though; she was just be­ing sup­port­ive, which is an ex­cel­lent qual­ity in an in­struc­tor. Shap­ing young minds and all. But I did change ca­reer ideas thanks to her sub­mit­ting my checker­board/ op­ti­cal il­lu­sion but­ter­fly print into a county fair com­pe­ti­tion — earn­ing me an honor­able men­tion rib­bon. An honor­able men­tion! Bet you didn’t know that about me, eh?

In the years since I was draw­ing and mak­ing my sis­ter laugh with ridicu­lous “comics” about a sar­cas­tic bunny (named Car­rot — im­pres­sive cre­ativ­ity), I ac­cepted that in­ter­est and tal­ent are re­ally two dif­fer­ent things.

It’s like singing. I love it, es­pe­cially in the car with my chil­dren as a cap­tive au­di­ence, but I’m well aware that my screech­ing could stop traf­fic. I was ac­tive in high school the­atre but dreaded au­di­tion­ing for the spring mu­si­cals; my en­thu­si­asm meant I al­ways got a bit part, but there is no ex­quis­ite tor­ture quite like break­ing glass on stage in front of friends, com­pe­ti­tion and the dozen boys I had a crush on day to day.

If my ren­di­tion of “The Lit­tle Mer­maid” clas­sics like “Part Of Your World” didn’t wow any­one, my teach­ers felt sorry enough for me to make sure I had a role in the cho­rus. I did ev­ery­one a fa­vor by sim­ply lip-synch­ing once we ap­proached open­ing night.

That? I was good at that. I’m great at re­mem­ber­ing lyrics, oddly; I can tell you ev­ery breath taken in my fa­vorite songs, though hear­ing me ac­tu­ally sing with John Mayer would change your view of me for­ever.

Art is . . . kind of sim­i­lar. I rec­og­nize what I like and of­ten have ideas for cute prints and graphic de­sign, but try­ing to ac­tu­ally cre­ate these things is chal­leng­ing. My son is old enough that we’re now col­or­ing and draw­ing to­gether. My con­tri­bu­tions to the blank can­vas of his own note­book pages typ­i­cally in­volve hearts, suns or “stars” (just as­ter­isks drawn with crayon, re­ally). Oliver doesn’t know any bet­ter, so he thinks this is cool. The other day he de­clared one of my sketches “awe­some,” his new fa­vorite term, and I glowed like I used to when he’d clap af­ter my so­los.

That’s right: the kid would clap. For me. And did I bask in that? Ab­so­lutely. We’re al­ready to the point that see­ing me dance ap­par­ently em­bar­rasses him — a par­ent­ing mile­stone, I think. Lately he’s been mak­ing some not-so-sub­tle sug­ges­tions that I take a seat with phrases like, “No, Mommy! Couch.” Ouch. But my art? My draw­ings are still cool. The in­ter­est is def­i­nitely there, though it’s been years since I at­tempted any­thing more com­plex than draw­ing a sun wear­ing sun­glasses. Re­mem­ber the wine and de­sign class my sis­ter and I re­cently took? That’s the first time I’ve held a paint­brush in ages . . . and I liked it. Enough to want to keep go­ing.

The Kind­ness Rocks Project sweep­ing South­ern Mary­land seemed a good ex­cuse to dig out my paint and get to work. Well, “dig” is a rel­a­tive term; I just had to buy new stock to make sure I had enough color op­tions, of course.

What’s great about the rocks you may have seen col­lect­ing on win­dowsills, benches and ledges in La Plata, Lusby, Leonard­town and every­where in be­tween is that you don’t need any par­tic­u­lar “tal­ent” to par­tic­i­pate; I’m proof of that. It’s just about the ef­fort.

One of the more frus­trat­ing parts of be­ing a par­ent is the in­abil­ity to spend more than 30 seconds on a task. Af­ter dis­cov­er­ing some rocks two weeks ago, I wanted to paint my own. I thought about pos­i­tive mes­sages I could share — the sort of notes I would be thrilled to find — and con­tem­plated color schemes.

It took days for me to ac­tu­ally get rocks. Then days to ap­ply a base of pur­ple paint, let it dry and scrawl my notes. Another few days to re­turn af­ter some ba­sic dry­ing time, and still more time to seal it be­fore set­ting them loose.

What some­one else could prob­a­bly ac­com­plish in an hour took me more than a week — mostly be­cause I can’t fo­cus un­til af­ter the kids go to bed, and by then I feel like I need to phys­i­cally prop my eye­lids open. That “me” time apart from dinner, bath time and pre­par­ing lunches for the next day would have to wait.

But it’s not about how long it takes you to climb the hill; the view is still amaz­ing. Paint­ing three sim­ple rocks took ages, but I sealed and re­leased them into the wild on Mon­day. They al­most didn’t make it out of my house as Ol­lie took an im­me­di­ate shine to them. “Rocks! It’s rocks,” he said, over and over and over, and I nod­ded po­litely while my “You Mat­ter” stone was used like a crab mal­let on his Mr. Potato Head.

He couldn’t re­ally hurt it. I mean: it’s a rock. But I was hop­ing to spread pos­i­tiv­ity on Mon­day, so I had to pro­tect my hand­i­work.

That meant wait­ing un­til he lost in­ter­est in the stones and dropped them. Then I could hide them some­where he was un­likely to spot them — my own ver­sion of a rock drop.

Let’s just hope I can find them again. Have you seen this place? The toy box that has be­come a toy liv­ing room?

If I can’t track the stones down, I’ll just as­sume Ol­lie needed them.

And hey — some­day I’ll find them and re­ally inspire my­self.

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