It’s OK. I figure I have two years of painting whatever creature strikes my fancy before I actually put something together. And by something, I mean an art display for an art event.
A dear friend of mine from an online support group that I am a moderator for, sent me a private message (are you following this) about an event in her state: Artprize.
I laughed and teased her about it being way out of my realm of talent. But I woke up in the middle of the night (which, for me, is around 3AM) and asked myself what was there to lose? I don’t know if it was an epiphany, but I’m going to call it that: I had an image in my brain of a zoo of mini animal portraits, humorous, on the border of extinction, fascinating, misunderstood – just animals. On the canvases, not the canvas boards.
I determined – and I truly believe this is a calling I have to follow – that 2017 Artprize should be a goal. Michigan is calling (along with more than half a dozen online friends from the same support group: a mini get together!)
Then tonight happened and the Toucan is – at the moment – a total flop. UGH.
It’s a minor set-back. You learn from these kinds of moments, the ones where you’re a total and complete failure. Anyone who can tell me that they’ve never been a failure is a liar. You have to fail in order to succeed. You have to write the worst novel ever before you can write the best one. You have to have a total crash before you win a marathon. You have to have a really bad toucan before you can go on to paint a zoo.
That photo, by the way, was retrieved out of my Recycle bin on my computer. I may work on it again tomorrow. I’ll see. If I still totally hate it, I’ll gesso over the canvas and pick something else to paint. I don’t have to have a toucan in my zoo.
So – WHY a zoo? Why not something faerie or landscape or one of my larger projects currently in limbo? Why not a weird dryer lint sculpture or a faerie house?
Because I can have a mission.
Oh, I love all of the above, but a mission. Making people aware of the minute and missed beauty of animals around us, of the fragile ecosystem we live in, of the sensitivities of the animal realm (that we so easily dismiss). Laughing donkeys, bizarre birds, an antelope with a drooping proboscis…
It was this animal that sealed the deal: the Saiga Antelope. I was just messing around and googled “antelope” (which, according to my bizarre family history is pronounced, “ANT el uh pee” – it’s a joke, but I say it in my head anyway). My search revealed the singular plight of the Saiga Antelope.
134,000 of these Star Wars worthy creatures died in May of 2015, mysteriously. 134,000!!
They’re only 2.5′ tall. Their nose droops like some alien. They live in the Mongolian Steppes.
I can’t save the Saiga Antelope. I can’t save the American Mustang. I can’t save a billion endangered species, creatures threatened by war in Syria, Iran, Iraq. I can’t save the Monarch Butterfly – the first endangered species I ever cried for.
Not alone, I can’t. But I can paint and paint and paint and create a zoo of creatures to display to the world that screams WE ARE NOT ALONE.
There’s a small plus side for me, too: I’ll develop my talent that has lain hidden under a basket, waiting for my kids to grow up. But that’s secondary. My real desire is for people to look at my minis and say… WOW. How did I miss that?
Which is why, ultimately, that the stupid toucan is a fail.
And why, ultimately, I will get up tomorrow and try again. Because I am better than a fail and the world’s creatures need better than one singular fail.