• tomomitomlin2

Art and me

Do you remember the artwork you created as a child and what you felt?

My first memory of the artwork I created was at a kindergarten. My favourite medium was oil pastels (well, they were common drawing tools given to children back then, so I didn't know other mediums). One day, my mother and I were on an outdoor drawing excursion organised by the kindergarten, and we sat in front of a Japanese garden in a local park. A pink picnic mat, a white sketchbook, colourful oil pastels and my mother's yellow egg rolls were on the green grass.

It was my first outdoor drawing experience, and I was overwhelmed with noise, people, trees, flowers and many things in my surroundings. My head was flooded with new stimulations and I was stunned in front of the sketchbook. Then, my mother picked up the grey pastel, put it in my hand, and gently wrapped my hand with hers. My hand ran on the sketchbook with my mother's guide. I was fascinated with the movement of hands that created the lines and then shapes of the rocks on the paper.

My mother's guide ignited my desire to draw and I created the image of pine trees and rocks. I was happy with my artwork and showed my drawing to my friends and their mothers. Then, I felt that my drawing was inadequate as the adults made cheerful comments about friends' work but mine. My friends drew colourful flowers, cute animals and smiling mothers and children in the sunshine. However, to my surprise, my plain Japanese garden drawing won the award among other colourful and cheerful drawings. I was happy and felt something warm inside of me.

I continued drawing and painting throughout my childhood and school years at school and home. I remember I always looked forward to the art classes more than anything else. I thought about learning art at university. My parents, teachers and friends talked about learning law, economics, science, medicine and engineering that have promising career prospects. I was not only unclear about how I could make living by learning art but also afraid that my artistic talent would not be good enough to live as an artist. So, I decided to study engineering as I thought it would still create something.

Art became my hobby and pastime activities. I took up occasional art courses - drawing, oil painting, illustration, photography, graphic design and design courses - to quench my thirst for art. I visited museums and art galleries whenever I had free time. I was happy with the way I connect with art for many years. However, after spending many years in this relationship with art, I found myself gradually consumed by my work and started doubting what I do and the way I spent time in my lifetime. I took up art courses frequently to numb my doubts. I was crying after some of the classes - because I was ecstatic and content thinking about art and creating artwork but at the same time I was sad because I had to go back to work.

Around that time, I came across several loss of lives around me. This experience made me seriously rethink what I want to do and how I would like to live the rest of my life. I read many articles, books, blogs etc. and attended seminars and webinars to find my 'why' in my life. Through this journey, my inner voices kept pulling me towards art and then the pandemic hit. It allowed me to spend time creating artwork and I was so happy despite the situation outside of the house. Then I reconsidered priorities and important things in my life. My inner artist started talking louder than ever.

I finally gave in and put my inner artist at the centre of my life. It felt like tying a knot with a long time lover and making a lifetime commitment. It was a little bit scary but felt so right. Then I recalled a Picasso's quote.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo Picasso

It took so long, but I am happy that I have embarked on the journey to resurrect my artist. I am exploring myself and my voice through art practice and am enjoying the process and discovery. I am hoping that my experience inspire you to let your inner artist come out.

What is your relationship with your inner artist? I am curious to hear your story.

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