The answer to the question is: I wish.
During my high school years, while hanging out with the other nerdy girls (although we wouldn't have called ourselves that), I secretly longed to be one of the Artists. Those were the cool girls: they were beautiful and talented and oh so sophisticated.
Although I did make friends with a few of the arty girls, and even hung out with them for a few school lunches, I couldn’t fool our art teacher, Miss Gabrielle. I loved all the projects I did for her: a papier mache dog, a mosaic (of a peasant cottage), a tapestry (of a Spanish city). But she knew I wasn’t an artist. She acknowledged my art work with a nod of her head, while heaping praise upon her pets. And, I think she must have had a good aesthetic sense, because all of her favorite students, have gone on to become working artists. And that is amazing, considering how many people make a living as artists. Lisa Leone is an art director. Mary Heebner is a fine artist (also the subject of an entry in Wikipedia. I think this is my new goal!). Jane Bauman teaches art.
Despite Miss Gabrielle’s discouragement, I’ve always dreamed in design. It used to be that when I closed my eyes I would see designs for fabrics, for china, for wrapping paper, flashing behind my eyelids. These went away as I got older. Where did they go? Perhaps they atrophied out of misuse. But even now when I look at the plates from old herbals, the ones I like the most are the ones in which plants are “reduced to decoration” or “stylized beyond recognition” in the words of Wilfrid Blunt in his book The Illustrated Herbal.
William Morris is one of my heroes and my current wall calendar features his amazing floral patterns. Perhaps I was his wife, Janey Morris, in a former life and my visions of designs were simply etched into my brain because of all those hours spent embroidering them into curtains.
It’s with excitement and a great deal of trepidation that I began drawing again, using the simple technique of contour drawing I first learned from Miss Gabrielle to try to capture the flowers I’m studying. I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow. And even share a few drawings. If I get my courage up.