Saturday, June 17, 2006


I did this drawing of horses playing over 20 years ago, sometime before I quit drawing and painting. Though I taught art for a couple of years during that time, for more than 15 years I almost never touched a pencil or paintbrush.

Though I didn't believe it at the time, I do believe now that if you are born with the drive to do something, and that something challenges you but also makes you happier than almost anything else, to deny it is to invite trouble.

When I started painting again, it was because I'd finally made the leap to understanding this fundamental truth, and I was tired of being miserable. Why did I quit when I'd drawn virtually every day during my childhood, and done a BFA in visual art at university? It was my own stupidity and lack of insight, of course, but I also now know that the role modelling our parents provide is far more important than I ever understood. My parents are extremely conservative and conventional people but they never told me not to be an artist. They were far too busy with their own lives to try and influence a belligerently independent child like me ... and smart enough to know that imposing their will on me would probably backfire anyway. Come to think of it, my father never actually had an opinion as he was incapable of taking an interest, whereas my mother's greatest fear was that her children end up as financial failures and drains on society (or worse -- on her) and let's face it, artists are romantic figures but at the end of the day, most are impoverished oddniks. If they had really objected and told me not to pursue a career as an artist it might have given me more direction as I had enough of an obnoxious, immature streak that I'd have wanted to prove them wrong. As it was, I digested their value system lock, stock and barrel without even realizing it. How did I know in my early twenties that financial security and respect from a status-conscious society would mean absolutely nothing to me when I turned 40 and actually had those things?

The rest, as they say, is history.


Blogger AscenderRisesAbove said...

Just magnificant and perfect in every way!

17/6/06 8:40 a.m.  
Blogger Loca said...

Completly agree with you and keep on drawing because your drawings are magnificent.

17/6/06 9:04 a.m.  
Blogger REGGIE said...

I concur with what you have to say. I heard that following your passion is more rewarding than financial gains.

17/6/06 9:44 a.m.  
Blogger buep said...

Beautiful, perfect!

17/6/06 9:55 a.m.  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

These dancing horses are so beautiful and it's nice to see your talent in a medium that you haven't really shown us before! It's hard to imagine you putting your art supplies away for all that time but you were probably painting in your dreams every night! If this helps at all, my mom still asks me if I could get a job with benefits? HaHa oh well, we are like Peter Pan, never really wanting to grow up and quite right I think!

17/6/06 10:09 a.m.  
Blogger murphy girl said...

it's amazing....i have been in such a rut lately, and absolutely at the end of my rope today; i've been utterly unable to produce anything, and this right after i return from a week in ireland (where i hoped my severly over-worked self would get rest and a refreshed spirit); i desperately wanted to participate in illo friday, but everything i drew lacked something...and then i read your comments about your own challenges. and i am back on track, realizing, of course, that every artist falls into a ditch at times (and i thank you for happening along and pulling me out of it)! now, if i can just brush myself off, maybe i can draw something i feel proud of!

beautiful drawing, and thanks for sharing!

17/6/06 12:12 p.m.  
Blogger The Tart said...

Wow, this is really beautiful. Honestly, just lovely. I have not read your post, but are you going to sell prints of this? Maybe you already mention a potential sale. ; )

The Tart
; )

17/6/06 1:35 p.m.  
Blogger Barbara said...

I'm glad you picked up your brush again!


17/6/06 1:45 p.m.  
Blogger Erin said...

How wonderful that you decided to follow your passion. I bet you're far happier now, if not wealthier. The sketch of the horses is amazing! Thanks for the inspiration - I think I'll try to indulge my creative side a bit more, because you're right - to ignore does make me unhappy.

17/6/06 3:06 p.m.  
Blogger cosmos said...

Very nice indeed. Do more.

17/6/06 4:33 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Ascender, Loca, Buep & Cosmos: Many thank-yous.

Reggie and Erin: Sometimes it takes a long time to grow up and learn this!

Val: There's something very "old and wise" about wanting to remain a child isn't there?

Murphy Girl: Glad to be of service! :) I fell into something more the size of the Grand Canyon. From now on, I'll stick to ditches.

Jocelyn: This is such an oldie that it would never occur to me to sell prints.

Barbara: Me, too! :o

17/6/06 6:07 p.m.  
Blogger CeCe said...

I saw that drawing in your flickr a while back. I just love it!

17/6/06 8:45 p.m.  
Blogger Katili said...

Amazing drawing, I'm speechless !!!
I am so happy, really, that you started painting again. Your story could have been mine in many ways *shivers* and I really am happy that you found your talent from the oblivion of so called "real life". Congratulations !

18/6/06 2:45 a.m.  
Blogger constance said...

Beautiful...and your sharing...they have 'pulled' me up too, in a way...

18/6/06 5:22 a.m.  
Blogger Liz Jones said...

Wonderful horses!! Keep on painting! I finally went pro after 20 years of telling myself I couldn't do it-- I can totally relate!

18/6/06 11:21 a.m.  
Blogger vfm4 said...

the good thing is, that, even if you don't touch a pencil in many years, you still learn and develop and grow, you don't loose it...
which you prove every day!

and these horses are most beautiful and elegant dancers!

18/6/06 11:22 a.m.  
Blogger Michael O'Connell said...

your work is amazing… i'm glad you realized what your art means to you if that's what did, in fact; happen… i just took a job with benefits… in hopes that i will be able to have more time to paint… but i also got a job at the art museum so i'm hoping for insipration as well…

keep at it…

18/6/06 12:33 p.m.  
Blogger Peter Matthes said...

An artist friend of mine told me that horses are one of the most difficult subjects to draw.

18/6/06 6:01 p.m.  
Blogger Peter Matthes said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

18/6/06 6:02 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

CeCe and Constance: Thanks. Now I know that someone is looking at my Flickr pages. :)

Katili and Liz: I think that hitting a certain age means that some of us have acieved enough maturity to determine what's important and what's not. In theory, anyway. :)

Victorie: During all those years I never stopped looking at the world as an artist. I constantly 'composed' using the viewfinder of my mind, and never stopped taking photos. I'm convinced that I grew during that time to a limited extent.

Michael: Now that's a good complementary job for an artist. It keeps your mind in the art world and pays a salary.

Peter: For me they are far easier than people, but then I was one of those teenage girls who drew about a zillion horses...

18/6/06 6:20 p.m.  
Blogger tiffinix said...

Beautiful Andrea - beautiful picture and post! The lines in this piece - stunning! Thank you for such a personal sweet post and reminder!

18/6/06 6:59 p.m.  
Blogger Toni said...

Andrea sounds like you have been doing some soul searching lately or are you just reminiscing? My parents were just like yours. They never really encouraged my art and never really discouraged it. They bought me supplies when they could aford it but pretty much left my fate up to me. They talk about my art more now than back when i was growing up.
Your horses are amazing! Such movement and grace.
So glad you are creating art now and have this blog for all of us to see.

18/6/06 7:32 p.m.  
Blogger albina said...

Hey, there… We are in the same basket of misguided goods – by other’s opinion… I give up art, acknowledging that it was not something practical to do at the early age. There was about seven years span when I did absolutely nothing that had to do with picking up a brush or a pen… And again I hit that wall when I graduated with my BFA – go figure… I don’t care what they say – we do what we are. You are an artist, always been, by all the means and measures of imagination. I am an artist; I can’t help t, so here we are… Eventually the pain of not making art outweighs the pain of making it… And then there are the windows to wash, he-he. I am done with my studio windows; the rest could go to hell in a hand basket! Cheers and hugs! You go and get them!

18/6/06 8:19 p.m.  
Blogger tlc illustration said...

Huh. I hadn't thought about the non-discouraging parental influence (which I had as well) quite in those terms before. I know that I really struggled with the 'practicality' of being an artist - and attempted to major in computer science and statistics in college. Couldn't make myself go through with it after a couple of years and ended up back in art. Most of the time, I'm happy about it. :-)

19/6/06 12:14 a.m.  
Blogger carla said...

Your horses are beautiful! I love to see your work that shows your talent in other ways...I have been admiring the details of their bodies and the way you captured the movement. It's gorgeous. It does sound like you've been doing some soul searching, perhaps as you move long in your newest direction? I often regret not going to art school, especially since my reasons were so lame...I was just very intimidated by the hipper-than-thou artsy group at my school who were so chummy with the art teacher and I thought I'd never make it...typical adolescent insecurities. But it's true...if there's a passion inside, it's unhealthy to deny it. It's wonderful that you faced that and were able to return to what you love!

19/6/06 3:54 a.m.  
Blogger Twisselman said...

Love the horses. But the text really got me thinking. My daughter has decided she will pursue the arts, and your comments have me thinking of how best to support her decision. She has much more natural talent than I, and I never want her to deny that. Thanks for the insights (and the comments over on my post... yes, IF provides an avenue for trying new things and not getting stuck in a stylistic rut).

19/6/06 6:52 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Tiffinix: Thank you.

Toni: It kind of popped out of nowhere actually. The soul-searching is long finished. My mother is also more supportive now that we're both older and wiser ... and she doesn't have to worry about supporting me. :)

Albina: wise words, and I so agree with the "pain" statement. I had one of those revelations one day when people I'd met post-university had no idea that my whole identity was once wrapped up in the artist thing. To them I was a teacher and a mother.

Tara: Role modelling is so much more powerful than words, isn't it? I was raised to believe conformity and being liked/admired were the most important things. They have a certain useful place but to elevate them to the levels that I observed seems so unbelievably unnecessary to me now.

Carla: Funny, those hipper-than-thou art students really intimidated me, too. The way they talked was so unnatural and so superior and their intense seriousness so foreign to my flippant way of thinking. But they didn't draw as well as me :) so I just carried on in my usual on-the-fringes way.

Twisselman: The hardest thing to do is convince somebody starting out that the trappings of a comfortable life are meaningless at the end of the day. I seemed to know that early on, but then when I was in my mid-20s and just as grindingly poor as I'd ever been, I decided to become a teacher. It only helped temporarily.

19/6/06 7:21 a.m.  
Blogger Rrramone said...

This post was one I connected with in a big way. Seriously, on so many levels. I'm in the middle of learning much about this now for myself. Thanks for sharing.

19/6/06 9:24 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant! I loved reading your history and how you came to be the amazing artist that you are. Loved this!!

19/6/06 10:26 a.m.  
Blogger HARDWAX said...

Beautiful form, the elegance and flow of movement in these horses-breathtaking. Amazing work!

19/6/06 10:59 a.m.  
Blogger Janet said...

I love this!...and the post!

19/6/06 1:07 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, It's fabulous that you paint Andrea, your work is most inspiring ! I like this drawing !

19/6/06 2:50 p.m.  
Blogger Alina Chau said...

beautiful drawing!

19/6/06 11:27 p.m.  
Blogger Wilnara said...

The horses are absolutely beautiful! I also loved hearing your thoughts. It wasnt too long ago that I too was in a profound sleep until I began to draw again and realized I was seeing life through fresh eyes. I'm glad you woke up to realize that your talent wanted so desperately to get out of hibernation! Because after all we would not have this opportunity to enjoy such talented work!

22/6/06 9:59 a.m.  
Anonymous AnonyGhost said...

Ooooohhh ...

22/6/06 9:25 p.m.  

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