July 09, 2004

A return to the art scene?

When I was in high school, I was -- more or less -- "defined" by being the kid in my class who was "the artist." I let my grades slip in high school (being a straight-A-geek my whole life up to that point was boring, I guess), but I still received an academic award for my graduating class, the "Michelangelo Buonarroti Award for Excellence in the Fine Arts." Yes, your favorite philosopher-type-dude was trained to be an artist and almost went to art school. (Boasting...) I know how to properly use all of that expensive art gear. I sculpted the Archangel Gabriel once (I really liked Christopher Walken’s character in The Prophecy, though my sculpture looked more like the angel of death than it looked like Mr. Walken). I know how to paint with all kinds of paints, and I used to go to AP English proudly with paint under all of my fingernails. I won the blue ribbon my senior year in the spring art show. There is an illustrated school directory in the lobby of my old high school that I painted by hand everyday for months. I used to be a really interesting guy. I had golf-grass-green Dr. Marten’s that clashed deliberately with my dyed-red hair. I used to button all of my shirts up all the way because no one else did, and all of my toenails were painted a different color. I played the electric bass guitar in Franciscan folk groups and choirs. I used to walk to the Baltimore Museum of Art every Sunday afternoon with my friend Chris. But I have not sketched or painted since 1997. So why the heck am I telling ya’ll this? I was brain-storming paper ideas in my office today and doodling in my Scheler notebook, and I sketched my travel mug full of Darjeeling. It looked pretty nice. I remembered that art used to be my “Sache” as the Germans say. My thing. My business. What I was about. Low and behold, Carbondale is full of craft stores that sell very nice art supplies, not to mention our various text-book stores that sell some also very fine art supplies. I ran around picking the most compact sketching set I could find (in a tin) and then went to the local Barnes and Noble to pick up a Moleskine pocket sketch book. I decided today that I would try my hand at drawing again and see how it goes. Who knows? Maybe I’ll take up painting again. I haven’t been writing or playing my bass or mandolin lately. I’m probably so directionless and bored lately because I have no creative outlet. Believe me, academic philosophy is no such outlet. Sometimes, I wonder what would have happened if I had gone to art school. Would I still be as interesting as I was in high school? Would I be crazy (or stupid) enough to be working on a PhD in philosophy? Would I have met my wife? Oh, well. Art works better for me as a hobby than philosophy would. And, if anything looks good enough to let another human being see, I might post some scans. I knew I bought that scanner for a reason. And maybe I’ll watch the modern rendition of Great Expectations this weekend. I have always liked the art work in that film, and it always makes me want to draw or paint. (The soundtrack is great, too.)

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