Once a week, my best friend Maggie and I get together to work on Trauma to Art administrative tasks. While we discuss our tasks and vision for the project over eggs, (usually poached, over medium, never scrambled), we also gain inspiration from each other.
Maggie lost her father last year and recently created an amazing watercolor of him, which I will post on Trauma to Art soon. I, too, am working on something called “The Smile Project.” I collected numerous pictures of smiling faces from friends and I plan to create a watercolor mat to lay over them – more on that to come.
While working on this project, though, I began to see a pattern that spans to my childhood. I flashed back to art teachers in high school and college telling me I had “natural ability.” My strokes were good. My tone was good. Above average, I presume. Then I remembered another recurring theme: fear of finishing. I usually brought my pieces to a place where they had all the groundwork laid. That’s the point in the process where you make an art work a finished piece, or something you can frame. Nine times out of ten, this was also when I choked. I’d either ruin its magnificence by not following my instinct or I’d stop all together. Same thing with my tennis; coaches always said I had a natural ability but no follow through.
When I paint and write, I don’t think about my mother the entire time. It seems that may be the disconnect some people have with Trauma to Art. It’s not about fixating on loss; it’s about turning your life exploration into something tangible like a beautiful picture, a transforming experience, or a poem that speaks to someone. And I’ve realized that talent isn’t the essential ingredient: it’s determination. Sure, talent helps. But every challenge or vision or goal requires follow through to get to the finish line.
We were born for greatness. Accept only the best in your life and that’s what you’ll get, with a little determination that is.