By: Diane Dill Webb
My 62nd birthday arrived as welcome and unwelcome as a kiss from a wet, happy dog. Reaching this age of what should be “wisdom,” I realized there only two things I am sure of and I will get to that. As far as what I am not sure of… that’s everything else.
I have opinions on politics but no feelings of absolute truth and who wants to hear our position anyway. How often have we tuned people out when they babble on about what they “think” on one issue or another. That’s what I thought, blah, blah, blah.
Religion is another question to which I haven’t an answer. Most religions seem okay as long as I don’t have to shave my head. I may even consider that, in the right circumstance, looking back at some of my past hair styles. Who can forget the eighties with the big hair and why the heck did we take so many pictures?
Now, the two things I am sure of: (1) High heels should never have been invented.
(2) Being creative is a form of insanity.
The first one stands on its own, so to speak. You ask a woman, or man—I make no judgments—who has to stand all day in a pair of six inch stilettos.
The second one may need explaining unless you are creative, married to or hooked up with a creative person.
I came by my creativity honestly. I still have a vivid image of the wastepaper basket my grandmother fashioned from empty toilet paper rolls. Her macaroni art was something to behold as well as the animals she made from dryer lint. In this day, she would be considered an outsider artist or folk artist. The definition in the art world, loosely interpreted is, one who is compelled to create art despite circumstance or education level. This movement is not new but has taken a while for the average person to appreciate. This approach to art is innocent, honest and may be created from whatever is on hand. My grandmother’s toilet roll waste baskets never caught on however, so I assume the timing was just not right.
This creative gift was passed to my mother in another form. House cleaning was not her forte but flower arrangements were, in her book, a necessity. The house could be tossed with dirty dishes, unmade beds, laundry piled in the chairs as she happily arranged a bouquet of roses.
Now, I have the fortunate and unfortunate circumstance, depending on the day, of having inherited this creativity gene.
If you are creative, you will understand my ambiguity. Some days, blue birds ride on my shoulders and the sun lights every step I take. No high can imitate the high of producing a creative masterpiece. I should know; I am a child of the sixties.
On the back side, more days than I would like to admit, I am convinced if Satan exists, his den is filled with macaroni clocks, bad poems, stacks of ugly paintings, cakes that fell apart and pottery that slumped in the kiln. His greatest joy is found in standing over one creative shoulder to try to convince us how untalented we are.
The worst days may be the mediocre days when we know what we have created is “nice” or even worse “cute.”
When an idea hits, it is not always easy to convey into words, paint, clay or macaroni.
If standing on my head would help, I would tie ropes around my feet and hang from the light fixture. Whatever it takes, we are compelled to present our rolling hot idea into an art form. Personally, I think the little girl portrayed in “The Exorcist” was just a frustrated artist. How many of us haven’t at times felt as if our head may spin?
Occasionally, we create something that seems a great idea at the time, but in hind sight, should have remained on the drawing board. These endeavors may be fueled by a particularly good bottle of red wine. I have a painting four by sixteen feet on heavy plywood to attest to that. It actually did involve my brother and several bottles of red wine. Yes, the gene does run in the family, and when together there is no talking us down as we get that wild look in our eyes and smoke starts boiling from our ears.
A feverish trip to a home store for plywood and a hot, sweaty day in August could not deter our plan as we joined the plywood together in a long “canvas,” strong enough to withstand a hurricane.
The result of many weeks’ work, other than a trip to a chiropractor, was a huge painting depicting brightly colored mermaids with long red hair diving into aqua water. In the center of the painting stand Adam and Eve. Eve also has flowing red hair and a belly button ring. It did not occur to us at the time that Eve would not have a belly button. Adam sports a tattoo with a heart and snake. Not taking into account the total weight of three sheets of plywood presented another problem when this “masterpiece,” was ready to be moved. Now, it stands in my basement as a constant reminder that art and alcohol do not mix. It was worth it though when we recently moved and I propped it in front of the garage of our new house for a few days just as a sort of “there goes the neighborhood,” warning.
Having reached 62, I have arrived at the conclusion that the left side of my brain does not work. It is okay because I am married to someone whose left side is all that works. Making it from point A to point B in a car can be a major accomplishment for me but I can make lovely candle holders from tin cans.
Maybe, there are people whose creativity has easily been conveyed into their art without torment. I doubt this is the case, but I do envy artists who knew their path from an early age; who knew they were to paint, write, sculpt, cook or do macaroni art. For quite a few of us, a creative desire lurks, hidden deep within a hard to reach corner of our brain. It lingers like an itch that can’t be scratched, a dream that can’t be remembered, a constant dangling carrot, and for this, don’t be surprised if one day you see our heads start to spin.
Diane Dill Webb lives in Weaverville with her husband Jim and dog Zeppelin. She writes, creates art and has learned to laugh at her failures and smile at her successes.