My grandma is an artist – most recently she’s been doing little mixed media collages, but she’s also been known to paint, throw pots, play cello* and dance. So, when she landed in a hospital with a broken leg the other week, I decided to make her an artsy “get well” card.
My artistic talents are limited to music, and I’m not particularly talented in that realm either. What’s really good about performing arts is that mistakes quickly disappear, assuming you aren’t recorded and your audience has short memories — which is why I prefer to play in venues where drinking is encouraged.
Visual arts, however, have a tendency to stick around and invite scrutiny. At age 6, I painted a pretty decent horse face, and my family was so proud they had it matted and framed. I never admitted that I made the horse face by tracing around my shoe.**
The horse hung on my grandma’s wall for decades, looking out with sad eyes, silently judging me for letting my family believe I could draw.
That said, I draw a pretty decent mermaid and ballerina. This is a skill I have been honing since age 10, when I didn’t have any friends so I had to draw glamorous imaginary ones who also happened to have perfect bodies and clear skin. These drawing skills stagnated when, in middle school, I found another weirdo to befriend.
I briefly considered sending my grandma a mermaid or a ballerina, but she already has plenty, so I decided to fall back on a skill I learned in summer camp: paper making. This is where you blend up some old paper, and then make new, lumpier paper out of the pulp. You can also toss in flower petals and glitter. (Or you can just buy some nice handmade paper online.)
My paper wasn’t anything special, but I rather liked my final product – a card for my grandma and one for my artsy friend Rachel.
*She’s pretty bad at cello, but it’s rad she tried to pick it up at age 60 or so.
**Don’t be impressed with my ingenuity. I’m pretty sure that was the art teacher’s idea.