Archive for the ‘The UGLY DUCKLING’ Category

“Just in front of him he saw three beautiful white swans advancing towards him from a thicket . . . . ‘I will fly to them, the royal birds, and they will hack me to pieces . . . .  But it won’t matter.  Better to be killed by them than be snapped at by the ducks, pecked by the hens . . . .’ 

“So he flew into the water and swam towards the stately swans.  They saw him and darted towards him with ruffled feathers . . . .  But what did he see reflected in the transparent water ?  . . . his own image, but he was no longer a clumsy dark grey bird, ugly and ungainly.  He was himself a swan . . . . The big swans swam round and round him and stroked him with their bills.”

From THE UGLY DUCKLING, by Hans Christian Andersen

Ever since I can remember, Andersen’s UGLY DUCKLING has moved me to tears—and it does to this day.  I’m mopping my eyes after typing the above quotes! 

In 2005 I began my art adventure, and I’ve often thought of the UGLY DUCKLING.  Having always loved art and desired to participate in that world, I was totally unprepared for the reception I’d receive as an embryo painter from the REAL artists—those who have worked professionally at their calling the way I’ve worked at my profession of writing, from childhood on. 

I’ve been literally “bowled over” and stunned by the joyous attitude of acceptance on the part of artists!  When I began painting in 2005, I wasn’t completely surprised that family members and a couple of very gracious friends responded with enthusiasm.  The children never dreamed that Mother “could do that”, and since they love me they probably missed the fact that I really wasn’t doing very much at all at that point—just blopping some paint around on paper.  My choice of in-your-face colors seemed to resonate with viewers of those early renderings.

But I metaphorically hid in the woods, when it came to sharing with the real artists I know.  That would be going too far, I thought—just too presumptuous of me, to stick one of my paintings in the face of someone who knows what he or she is doing artwise!

Then somewhere, something SNAPPED!  I knew I’d discovered a fantastic pastime.  Since sloshing paint and glueing stuff on paper were so personally rewarding, so indescribably delicious, it suddenly occurred to me that the pleasure of doing art outweighed all other considerations and concerns! 

Finally, I began showing my work to friends who are real artists.  Rather than hack me to pieces like the UGLY DUCKLING thought the swans would do to him, these compassionate souls responded with approbation because I was doing something I loved!  They made constructive comments.  They welcomed me as if I were actually “one of them”, causing me to understand that there are many levels of art—and there is room for every one of us, no matter whom we are or what we can do!

Although there are volumes of rules concerning art making, we in the 21st century know that art can also be a world without rules.  That’s a huge part of the art charm and allure for people like me!  All of my writing life, I have been conscious of rules.  Not so, with art.  Every one of us is different—and artists know that.  Some are excellent, and some are “world class”.  I’m happily just “me”—ever learning but never driven, as I sometimes felt when I wrote for publications and competed for awards. 

For me, painting and collaging are arts without angst.  I never wonder, “Is this clear and understandable?”  I love that element of mystery in art.  There is always the remote possibility that someone will view a piece of work and say “AHA”!   If not, I am still more complete for having created the rendering. 

I realize that my art is a subjective discipline.  When we go off half skewed in writing—or even more so in music composition—we are apt to lose anyone who is not as crazy as we are.  But in art, there is room for everyone. 

Part of the art acceptance which has totally warmed and won my heart may be based on the fact of COLOR.  In general, artists are colorful people.  We love to wear color on our bodies, we like to dress like one of our paintings, and we reflect color in our work.  No matter how skilled or inexperienced, we are bonded by a mutual passion for color. 

Artists are visual beings and that makes for an exciting lifestyle—a lifestyle where all are welcome.  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

NOTE:  My first edition of this entry was posted early today.  Later, I returned to “check it out”, and I discovered many errors.  In the process of correcting typos, I began hewing and hacking away at the content of the piece—and eliminating chunks which had nothing to do with the main focus.  This is the life of a writer!  Although I do make additions and corrections to my art renderings, I hope I’ll never edit them as ferociously as I edit my essays!

If you, dear reader, were caught in the midst of editorial changes to this essay, please refresh your browser and try reading it again so it makes more sense!  Thank you for your patience!  🙂 MLB

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