“I can’t draw.”
I cringe every time I hear someone say that line, or one like it (I can’t draw I can’t sing I can’t dance I’m not creative …). I cringe because I can’t bear to watch the person shut that door and turn away from something so intrinsic to the human experience. The arts are a part of what makes us human, the ability to express ourselves through art, music, dance, theater, story. From the very beginning of the human race, people drew pictures on their cave walls, carved toys and figures from animal bones, beat drums and made music and danced around ceremonial bonfires, passed down stories and wisdom to the younger generation.
There is art within our souls, each one of us, as any parent can see when they watch their toddler grasp a crayon and purposefully create a scribbled masterpiece or delightedly bang her fingers on the keys of grandma’s piano. But somewhere along the way, usually at a point in time after we’ve begun our formal learning in school, we start to shut the doors to the arts.
Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
Think about that.
Why is it so hard to keep the arts in our lives as we grow into adulthood?
Now, I can’t sing well. But that didn’t stop me from singing lullabies to my babies, and it doesn’t stop me from singing loudly, happily along with my favorite tunes in the car. We don’t all have to be professional artists in order to embrace the arts in our lives, we just have to give ourselves permission.
This week in the news I saw a story about Scott Hale, an out-of-work welder from Indiana who has been receiving a lot of attention lately due to the snowy lawn ornaments he’s been adding to his front yard. With time on his hands, he embraced the inspiration when it came to him to sculpt the snow piling up outside his home into grand figures from ancient mythology. There’s Atlas crouching under the burden of the Earth, and winged Pegasus soaring above the snow, and his own rendition of the Venus de Milo. Hale is not an artist by profession, but he obviously has an eye for form and beauty, and clearly finds joy in the process of sculpting snow. The news report concludes by wondering if he might be able to turn his new passion into a job, perhaps as a special events sculptor-for-hire. That would be really nice, but do we have to be paid in order for something to be considered time well spent? I just hope he continues to spend time sculpting even if a new career doesn’t pan out. He has discovered his inner artist.