My Life As A Painter

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My Life As A Painter

My son says that when people ask him what I do for a living, he tells them I’m a painter. This made me laugh. I mean really laugh out loud laugh. I just thought it was a funny, off the wall, response. It caught me off guard and completely delighted me. While I did major in art history, have lost weeks of my life painting the walls in our homes, and on occasion have indulged myself with art classes, a painter I am not. However, not wanting to make a liar out of my son, I went to the art supply store. I bought a few canvases, a couple of tubes of color along with a tint and a shade, and I started painting a large blue monstrosity.

My children kindly applauded my efforts much as a mother applauds a toddlers mud pies in the sandbox or a preschoolers first attempt with printing the alphabet. Emboldened, I continued to forge ahead confident that with each stroke I was truly making a statement.

A couple of months later as my painting limped towards completion, my son asked if he could have a canvas. In the time it took me to make a cup of coffee, he was done. What he was able to do in those moments was, in my humble opinion, head and and shoulders above anything I’d attempted. His painting had a strong personal style and point of view.  It was balanced, focused, and original. I looked the other way as he took the rest of my canvases, allowed him to slowly ransom my colors and brushes, and most recently turned the basement and dining room over to his pursuit of artistic expression.

I haven’t painted a stroke since, and I’m not being melodramatic when I say that I may never pick up a brush again. I know in my heart of hearts that I wasn’t put here to inspire the world with my renderings. I’ve been brought to my knees in front of Picasso’s and Van Gogh’s. I’ve been moved to tears by a sweet red head who captures my soul with her pencil drawings. I look at my son’s beginning attempts and know with every cell of my being that I’m not a painter.

As I pondered what the hell I was doing wasting both precious time and money chasing some girlhood dream of artistic expression, I started thinking about all the many, many things I spend my time doing that don’t directly feed my passion or my mission. While I think it’s essential to spend time with people I love and admire, and I believe that leisure activities are necessary and nourishing for our souls, at what point does vital recreation become mindless distraction?

I feel busy and overwhelmed daily. I feel tasked with vital work that I am unable to get to and burdened by mundane chores, and yet I still find myself getting lost in mindless pursuits and sucked into the minutia of life. It is so easy to glom onto someone else’s dream or vision. It is so easy to allow a thousand little things pull me away from doing what is essential and necessary and truly important.

So, I will take a long hard honest look at how I spend my time. I will try evaluate opportunities and eliminate the distractions. I will continue to move toward my light and my truth. I don’t have much choice. It’s time.

My daughter says when people her ask her what I do for a living, she tells them I’m crazy. This made me laugh, too. I laughed mostly because her answer is probably closer to the truth.


  1. If you stopped painting because it really means nothing to you, that’s one thing. If you stopped painting because you’re not a Picasso or a Van Gogh – or even your son – that’s something else. I will never be a Horowitz or a Rubenstein, but that doesn’t mean I should give up playing the piano or consider the time I spend practicing to be wasted. Ditto the hours I invest in my novel writing, whether or not I am ever published. Just because we might never achieve greatness doesn’t mean we shouldn’t attempt to express ourselves artistically, humble as our attempts may be. Just wanted to toss that out there. 🙂

    • It’s simply about focusing on what’s most essential for me right now and not allowing my attention to be pulled a million different ways. Not an easy task.

      • Now THAT I can relate to…

        • I’m trying to remind myself that there’s a season for everything under the sun. I have to respect that.

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