I’m Tired of Being an Artist*

I’m tired of being an artist right now. There are days like today–when thinking about my art transmits a flurry of moths up from my stomach into my neck in sets like waves. My brush strokes are low-brow; the piles of paintings all around the house and the studio are like piles of dusty yellow newspapers stealing space from a small apartment.

I can’t stand this weird habit of mine to play with pricey paint on overpriced canvases or pieces of plywood. Today, I especially hate the abstract ones. They offer nothing other than one of my moods, thoughts or bits of dreams. That’s all they are, blobs and strokes that illustrate whatever I’m feeling (or thinking or dreaming about or worried about or in love with) throughout the span of the painting’s construction.

Then there’s the piles of poems loitering around the desk at the studio, staring up at the historic ceiling, bored and wondering when they will become timeless. Who cares about these poems anyway? Again, they’re nothing other than thoughts thrust about as words, landing in some sort of design from my mind.

I wonder, why did I make all of these?… I’ve only sold two paintings… and the poems are still waiting to become a book (they’re getting published in pairs by journals or anthologies like little odd couples). Last week, I heard back from the editors of an anthology soon to be published. Two of the three poems I submitted are going to be published in the collection. It’s a publication I was hoping to get, and I got it! But I don’t feel as relieved as I used to when something got published…I feel like it’s not enough; I should be sending out my manuscript. I should be more on the cutting-edge. I should be making money off these useless paintings.

Why I'm Tired of Being an Artist

I’m tired of thinking about it, of wearing this big noticeable techni-colored jacket that automatically announces to everyone I meet, “Hello. I’m an artist. I will be different.” When people find out I paint and write poetry, their eyes grow a little wider and they quickly inhale as if saying, “Wow. You’re different.” Yes. I’m one of those, I think, I spend a significant amount of time making things. And naturally, I’ll feel different; I’ll become annoyingly aware of all the jokes I’m making and the tired smile on my face.

One man who visited my studio at the Estate said, “I can’t believe people like you exist.” When viewers come to check out the studio, they first read my posted bio, and then look through a few windows before knocking on the door–I morph into a fish in a tank, something curious and colorful moving around in a space.

There’s days when I wake up feeling like an artist, excited that I get to play all day, ready for the ideas to spill out like confetti, and then there’s the other days, when the thought of being an artist is a really sore tooth that makes your eyes water when you bite down. What should I pour out of my mind today? I should stop thinking like an artist. Why should I spend the hours meandering and wallowing around my mind? What would a normal person be thinking about?

*This was originally published on Pink Curlers & Post Scripts

English Composition: Vital to the Health of Higher Education

Part 1.

This new semester is sort of like the plants on my balcony. Over the summer, I told myself, “Screw it! I’m going to save my plants!” 

It all started with how dirty and messy the balcony was. I finally cleaned it, got rid of the useless/broken junk, organized our swimming pool and plant stuff on shelves, swept up all the old pieces of dog toys and realized that what was really doing damage to the ambiance of our balcony with its swimming pool/palm tree view was the plants. They were only half green. Each had some part of its leaves browned and dried out. So, they weren’t dead, but they weren’t very healthy either. That’s when something came over me: “What a hypocrite I am to own half-singed plants!” Here I was claiming to be an environmentalist and a humanitarian, but only half caring for these plants that count 100% on me. I made myself sick.

Since my decision to save the plants, I’m proud to say that they are now bright green. I first repotted them and then looked some info up online about why the tips of people’s plants’ leaves turn brown. Additionally, I am consciously making the effort to water them, keep their soil fresh and pretty as well as check in on them at least every other day; they are green and pert.

Why English Composition is vital to the health of higher ed

This is how I feel now at the start of Fall 2015 semester, repotted, healthy and hydrated. First, there’s the office space I now have (which replaced the rolling suitcase I hauled around when I was an adjunct). Then there’s being around the freshly minted adults (aka “college kids”) which are not unlike the newest sprouts on my balcony and one tiny change of habit, being able to carry a water bottle around with me everywhere. Before, I hardly ever had any free hands. It was the rolling suitcase, the lunch bag, the stuff that I couldn’t fit in the suitcase and on super crazy days, an umbrella too. I had to carry those…as a student might say, “like everywhere!” Now I have this one free hand that can carry the water bottle for me with no problem. I stay hydrated happily.

Part 2.

In regards to not only the health of one’s physical body, but also in regards to the health of one’s higher education, nothing is more vital than English Composition. (“That’s a mighty big sentence for a little lady”). There’s no hyperbole in my statement. English Composition is vital to the health of higher ed.

Comp (English Composition) teaches the students how to think critically, how to recognize critical issues in present day society and how to convey their own critical thoughts. It surprises me how little they know when they first start taking my Comp class. Many struggle with seeing cultural, linguistic, historical or behavioral patterns. And most recently, failing to utilize any detail at all in their writing and/or class discussions that call for descriptions, analysis and/or persuasion (use of evidence too). I wonder: If you don’t notice patterns, how will you ever catch fraudulent activity in your business, in your life? Or just the opposite, if you can’t see patterns, how will you foresee points of opportunity on the way? If you don’t use details, how will you notice anything at all generally? How will you take delight in small pleasures? How will you pick up on hidden clues that provide big answers? How will you criticize or compliment? How will you captivate? Where will your charisma come from?

What’s most ironic about the pattern that I’m noticing, is that these incoming little geniuses (seriously) are lacking in street smarts. To be street smart means to practice, with agility, effective survival skills, to be able to tell when you’re being duped, to improvise and charm, to avoid danger and to seek opportunity (however small). All of these street smarts grow from critical thinking, strong observation skills, and an ability to strategize. Book smart is very good, but how does it ensure survival?

Even in the most successful and critically acclaimed philanthropic companies, we find fraud or misleading information. Unlike many other general ed classes that stem from pure knowledge, accurate comprehension and/or reliable formulas, Comp requires individual thinking, the ability to communicate clearly as well as contemporarily. Comp calls repeatedly for the use of strategy. Comp, though “only” another general ed, allows students to find confidence in their individual voices, to look around closely at anything, to create. From Comp, they evolve much more able to believe in their own ideas with much sharper observational skills and more experience with innovation.

Many, many things are not what they seem to be not only in rhetorical presentations but also in real life. Comp offers a class for analysis, metacognition contemporary awareness. It’s only with critical thinking and, just as importantly, being able to communicate that critical thinking will students be able to gain the most from their Higher Educatios and also from their lives in general. Without Comp or the skills that Comp offers, the absorption of every dictum would occur without any questioning, challenging, nor would there exist the innovation of new dictums.

Suggested Further Reading: Why Do So Many Gen Zers Seem to Lack That Old-Fashioned ‘Critical Thinking?’