Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Accidents and choices

I had lunch yesterday with a woman I knew vaguely nearly 50 years ago. We both went to the same college and lived near each other in the dorm one year. I came across her name in a research project I was doing about a month ago and discovered she lived here and had been an academic like I was. So I emailed her and we got together.

It was interesting sharing our life stories, which are considerable at our ages, and I was struck by how life gets shaped by accidents and choices in the moment, rather than long-term goals and plans. She had planned to be an actress in LA or New York and fell into a university graduate program for acting instead. She worked on the stage a short while in Seattle and then got offered a temporary job at Reed College where she stayed. She acted some and directed some but mostly she was a teacher.

I had plans to be a high-school teacher but put them on hold when my boyfriend at the time got a job as an abortion counselor in Texas in the early 70s and I went with him and did that work for a while. Later I went back to school but fell into a Master's program and then chose to get a PhD instead of high-school teaching. In 1994, I took a leave from my college teaching job to return to Portland and care for my parents and I never went back, choosing instead to develop an editing business.

 Buying the book Life's Companion: Journaling for the Spiritual Quest in 1992 changed my life: I bacame a writer. Buying the book, the Artist's Way in 1997 changed my life as well: I became a painter.What accidents and choices have shaped your life? 


Phil Freyder said...

Not long before you bought The Artist's Way, my sister gave me a copy. I diligently worked my way through this adult workbook. After drawing and painting desultorily for years, I'd turned my back on art practice. I'd wrongly decided that I had been pursuing a pubescent fantasty. I returned to making art. My next adult workbook was Betty Edwards' Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. I worked my through it. I don't look back; I just keep painting.

Jill Kelly said...

Phil, I never had an art practice, having been discouraged by earlier teachers who told me I had not talent and my work wasn't interesting. The Artist's Way helped me see how much I wanted to work with color. I found a renegade art teacher who teaches only observation and believes everyone can draw and paint. I will be forever grateful.

Phil Freyder said...

Jill, I agree with your renegade art teacher: anybody with normal intelligence, eyesight and hand-eye coordination can learn to draw and paint. No special genetic gift, no inborn talent, is required. Once we've learned to draw ('draw' meaning to see accurately) and paint or sculpt or make prints or installations, talent arises when we apply our mastery of techniques and materials to conveying our vision of the world. Talent lies, I believe, in the joining of craft with vision.