When I was in the third grade, I used to doodle and scribble circles in my notebook while Mrs. Plyler gave boring lectures on vegetable soup or other topics of intense interest. I would draw spaceships, aliens, cars--whatever I could come up with--it wasn't all that bad either (or so I thought).
In high school and college I did the same thing. With teachers who would sputter words that seemed to take hours to reach my eardrums, I couldn't help grabbing my pencil and start drawing circles. The thing is, in the third grade I thought that what I drew was art. I'd go home and show my mom my drawing and ask, "Isn't this nice, Mommy?"
Of course the response was, "That's ... interesting, son." Well, before I knew it, Mrs. Plyler caught me while I was creating one of my masterpieces. My dreams of being a famous artist were dashed as my classmates laughed at my precious doodle.
I didn't stop drawing, though. But it did make me think: "What is art?"
As Mrs. Plyler and other teachers took me on field trips to art museums, the performing arts, and the library, I learned about Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Mark Twain, William Shakespeare and Michelangelo. I ended up believing that paintings, sculpture, literature, music, etc., were all art was about. Boy, was I wrong. There is more to art than just skill and craft. For instance, what about all the things artists paint or poets write about, isn't that art?
According to Webster's Dictionary, art is "the application of skill and knowledge in a creative effort to produce works that have form and beauty, and esthetic expression of feeling."
But, the real art behind all artists' creations revolves around what already exists. Rivers, mountains, the roses in the wild, the trees in our backyards, the sky, the stars, the big dipper and our day to day emotions are what artists are trying to capture--that's the real art.
And people are pieces of art too. We all come in different shapes, backgrounds, colors and sizes. Our personalities create who we are, and we produce art every day as we touch other peoples' lives. Parents, guardians, friends, and God helped us grow into what we are today. Just as plants need water, we need nourishing. It would be terrible to step on a flower or spill coffee on a priceless painting; it is just as important to not pollute our bodies and souls and take care of ourselves.
A couple years ago I observed the work of artist Dale Chihuly at the San Jose Museum of Art. Chihuly uses heat, fire, sand, centrifugal force, gravity and chance to create glass art. I saw blown glass forms of flowers, butterflies, marine life, and fishing floats.
I also saw his paintings--brush scribble and splattered lines on a board. It kind of looked like my third grade scribble, but when I saw a gray bike meshed in a brown background with a yellow line at the bottom, I was taken back to when my father and I would go out for bike rides when I was a kid. It reminded me how special memories and life can be.
I realized art is life and that artists try to capture that as best they can because it is simply beautiful. It is important to remember that we are special and to continue to paint in our lives by allowing our fingerprints to touch others.
I guess, I will never look at my scribble the same way when a boring teacher intones droning sentences that take forever to reach my eardrums.
NOTE: The scribble in the picture above is not mine. It is my son Andrew's scribble at 8 months.