Drawing … a retrospective?

Oh that title is intense! This is not a retrospective – but maybe it is step one to a retrospective …

It’s been a full ten years since I discovered drawing and I realize, this morning, how very lucky I am to have this anniversary in my head.  So many artists have always been artists – have always been creatives.  Ask them when they started drawing and they will say ‘I always have.’  I have not always.

It’s been a full fifteen years since my ex husband tried to kill me, and failed.  These are related events in my life.

I used to write, beautiful and charming vignettes of life and fantasy.  Poetry struggling with language and the pain of a dubious marriage.  Short stories sorting through my young motherhood.  Songs that weeded their way through my father and my mother and my childhood and all the goodness and struggle of simply growing and existing.

Writing was how I coped and learned about the world and my presence in it.  After the assault I stopped writing – or, better said, I could write about nothing else.  My words were filled with fear and confusion and vitriol and horribleness.  So I walked away and turned to home making and soap making and bread making.  I was a maker and it was fine… for five years.

Then … at thirty-seven … I picked up a sharpie and a canvas and I drew.

And wheels started turning and a shifting began and then SUDDENLY, I drew all the time.  ALL THE TIME!

I’m having a hard time writing about this, the loss of my writing and the discovery of my drawing and this five year gap and the lack of authentic expression that was when my second husband fell in love with me (this is not a coincidence, I was very very useful) … and then he left and the art remained.

It’s been a decade, the same length as both of my marriage/relationships, and I do feel a weight to that.  My longest adult relationship, the art.  I mean, it could up and leave as well … or it could turn ugly and mean as well … but I think it won’t.  It’s mine.  Sometimes the balance of power in this relationship goes a little sour.  Sometimes it asks more of me than I’m willing to give.  Sometimes it doesn’t respond when I whisper it’s name in moments of sadness.  Sometimes it lets me down and sometimes I let it down … and yet we go on together, always trying again.  We don’t give up on each other.  

I’ve much work I want to do in the next year, gathering my pieces together and reviewing my growth and reflecting on my life in those moments and how very very far I have traveled with these pens and these hands.  And I feel a weight there.  I have so many words that I struggle to find.  

What I can find is that I am damn lucky.  I feel I’ve gotten another chance that so many never get.  I’ve found a path forward from abuse and trauma and loss that is healing and good for me.  I’ve found a kind of a voice that I’d thought I lost when words began to fail – I adapted and learned to hear the voice of a line, the song of a curve and the shout of raw umber.  

So this is my first stab at really reflecting on a decade as an artist … it’s a small beginning but I am hopeful that a small beginning will lead to a next step… and so it goes.

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