Monday, June 1, 2009

Me and Art

I was blessed with the best teachers at the Craft Academy--which unfortunately closed down when Pat got sick. This is a pity because she did a lot for those street kids and today many of them have mastered a craft well enough to be able to earn a living from it. She wanted it to go on, but for some reason, the Board decided otherwise and it closed down in February 2006. 

Having been a geek, I studied Maths and Physics up to Cambridge A level. This constituted a major advantage--considering I couldn't call myself an art-inclined person--making color theory and perspective not so hard to master. I started with acrylic painting in March 2002. At the end of the first day of the weekend course, I realized that during the time I'd been painting, I hadn't once thought of my numerous job-related problems. My mind was fresh and I was looking forward to the next day. What I found great about painting was that there was no "wrong" and "right" about it. You're our own judge. No one can come and say, "this is not right". If they do, you can just reply, "Seems fine to me." and get away with it. Having had to score high marks all through school and university--not always succeeding so easily--this was a totally new world opening to me. 

After Acrylic painting, I followed a watercolor class--March 2003. This is a story in itself. The night before watercolor weekend, I was awakened by a cat wailing and Poupie--bad dog--barking angrily. It wasn't even 5 am. I rushed out and found Cat hanging from a metallic passage, one foot caught in the mesh. Poupie was waiting, ready to attack. Without thinking--I should have pulled on a dressing gown--I ran to save Cat. As I fought to push his foot out of the mesh, he grabbed my right arm and started biting savagely. After a while, the pain was so intense that, without even thinking, I changed arms. Left arm was attacked as savagely as Right. Finally, he managed to get his foot out--I still don't know if I had anything to do with it--and ran away. My two arms were bleeding and the pain was awful. I managed to get another couple of hours' sleep and in the morning woke up and got ready for watercolor class. 

All day, I ran a high temperature. The pain made me dizzy and nauseous but I continued. I know I should have been in bed with antibiotics that day, but I couldn't not do the course. The tutors used to come from South Africa only twice in the year and I couldn't afford to miss the lessons. The second time they came it was the same week I broke Right Wrist. I did an advanced Acrylic course with Right Arm in cast. That was the day I started painting with my left hand. I even took notes--since I was a fully-pledged geek at the time--with my left hand. In a mirror, it could be read perfectly. However, as I proceeded on my way to become a semi-geek, I stopped taking notes, which wasn't so bright because today I realize that I should have taken notes in "Framing" class! 

When Right Wrist came out of the cast and I couldn't use it like before, I was angry and upset. I quit my day job at the end of 2003 and worked on getting my wrist functions back. 

In 2004 and 2005, I followed courses in Mosaic, Pottery and clay Portraiture. Pottery was instrumental at getting my wrist back to normal. In October 2005, I started Tai Chi classes to help with my arthritis. Tai Chi and Qi Gong also helped with the wrist. Today, I can say that, though overdoing things causes pain, I have recovered at least 90% of my wrist function. Where there's a will, there's a way. 

As Tai Chi helped me control my arthritis pain, I returned to one of my first passions--bonsai. I 
started going to plant nurseries and getting the ugliest specimens. Like the ugly duckling, they make the best bonsai. 

Tai Chi--or maybe my coach--also helped with mentally. I decided to go back to another one of my earliest passions--fiction writing. 

Today, I'm very happy. I read, write, paint, draw and spend time with my 12 cats and 3 dogs. When the Craft Academy closed down, I bought one of their turning wheels. I'm planning to go back to pottery. 

And I say thank you to all those who have helped me with my new life. With the support of my family and friends--the real ones, not the ones who are around only when things go well--and especially Pat, I am very happy to be a semi-geek. 

I don't think I'll ever be a non-geek because being geeky is my first nature. 

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