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  • Writer's pictureJenny Dunaway

Not An Artist

Updated: Mar 21, 2023

I've always wanted be to an artist but that aspiration was destroyed long ago in 5th grade. Kids know who in the class can draw. I was never one of those kids. I never liked to color--I always colored outside the lines. I tried to stay in the boundaries but I just couldn't. My coloring of maps and images we had to do in class were just not as neat as my peers.

But there was a time that I thought I could draw...I remember Miss Cumbow, my 4th grade teacher in Abingdon, always complimented me on my drawing and my poetry. I felt as if I could do anything in her class. Looking back, now, Miss Cumbow had a way of making EVERYONE in the class feel as if they were a star. She was one of my favorite teachers. She encouraged me to read Shakespeare and Lousia May Alcott. She praised my drawings on my book reports and I truly felt as if I were an artist. I wasn't afraid to try and my work may not have been as pretty as others in the class but I was never ashamed of what I created.

Then we moved to Poquoson. I was placed in "Group One" which was the top group. I made friends and felt as if I fit in. We rotated Music, Art, and P.E. so that our teachers had a planning period. I don't remember the exact moment that I was told I was not an artist but I know it happened in 5th grade. I never wanted to show anyone what I had drawn or made. It never seemed good enough and I began to dislike art.

That negative self-concept continued even into college. I had to take "Kiddie Art" as part of my Education major. It was a nightmare. What was supposed to be a class on teaching teachers how to integrate art into their curriculum turned into a class that judged me on the quality of art I could produce. It was the only C I ever received in college. I tried so hard to create the products my professor required but nothing I did was acceptable. That class destroyed any confidence I might have had as a child in my potential as an artist. My future sister-in-law was also in that class and effortlessly made an A. She was always good in art. Aside from some creative learning centers and bulletin boards, I didn't do much art. Oh, I cross-stitched, stenciled, quilted, and made other crafts but my past experiences haunted me.

Fast forward almost 40 years...I have started to dabble in painting. Pinterest is a great inspiration. I collect images on my boards that look like something I could do and when the mood strikes me, I will attempt to recreate a piece I like. Usually I make cards for people and I've discovered that it brings me joy. I have no delusions about my artistic ability but I have always had an eye for color and balance.

Getting into Soul Collage was the perfect outlet for me. I love how I pull together some seemingly unconnected images to create something that speaks to my intuition. The cards tell me something about myself that is crucial for me to understand at that moment. It's really cool. I consider myself to be an above average soul collage card creator. Success in that media has allowed me to stretch myself using watercolors and acrylics. I have put the past behind me and can say I am learning to become an artist and it feels great!

Here are a few of my most recent paintings: my first bunny, the resurrected Jesus, an angel, and an oyster. Let me know what you think.

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