I believe in recognizing and accepting one’s limitations. Obviously, progress can and will be made with hard work. A lot of the time though, it’s just not enough. Sometimes you have to face the fact that your dream is not something you are actually any good at. This kind of self-awareness can save you a lot of heartache and, often, money.
Luckily, I figured out the things I wasn’t good at pretty early. Otherwise, I would now be a frustrated artist. I love the idea of being an artist. I love beautiful things. I am capable of being moved by really good art. I have all these fantastic pictures in my head that I would love to replicate on paper. (Or canvas, or whatever.) But I lack talent. More than that, I would go so far as to say my artistic skills are below average. This isn’t modesty here; I know bad when I see it.
So be it though. We can’t all be perfect at everything. My career as an artist was never meant to be. I have moved on.
What I do have a bit more luck with though — when I’m feeling a need to be arty without driving myself mental over the fact that my attempts at drawing an alligator, say, produce something more closely resembling an amoeba — are crafts. I think this is because to make good art you need talent, whereas to make nice crafts, you just need materials, an ability to follow instructions, time and patience. (Oh man, I’m totally going to piss some people off with that statement, aren’t I? Oh well. I stand by it.)
So, me and crafts. This interest is a conflicted one for me. On the one hand, I quite like doing crafts. It’s fun and gives me a little thrill of accomplishment. On the other hand, I have no use for the final result.
This goes for pretty much every craft out there. Let’s take cross-stitch, for example. It’s kind of fun to do. You follow the pattern and do the little x’s and at the end you have a picture or a cheesy saying or something. But then what? I certainly don’t want a cross-stitched thing saying, “Home is where the heart is” on my wall. A pillow isn’t much better. I could probably live with a dish towel, but is cross-stitch even absorbent? Is it worth finding out? And it seems like a cruel sort of thing to inflict on my friends and family too. “Oh, you made this yourself? I guess I have to keep it forever then, hey? Gee, thanks.”
(I’m going to digress a second here and share with you Stephanie’s rule #462 – There are only four situations in which you should give someone a thing you made yourself:
- If you are under the age of 12.
- If it is food.
- If they have complimented the thing, with the caveat here being that the compliment can’t have been directed at you, because they could have just been being nice, so it has to be a compliment you overheard them saying to someone else when they didn’t know you could hear them. eg. “Oh, did you see the pinch pot Stephanie made? It is gorgeous and suits my taste perfectly. I would love to steal that, but I fear that my theft would hurt our relationship.” In this situation, it would be acceptable for me to give this person the pinch pot.
- If you are actually good. The litmus test of this is that you need to have been told that you are good by at least twenty strangers who have no emotional or financial attachment to your art or self-esteem. Even then, be careful. Know your audience. In fact, you should still probably refer to situation 3.)
So. What to do? I like to be engaged in mildly creative projects but I don’t want a slew of cross-stitch or crappy pinch pots around the place. I prefer to limit my housework, so anything that will collect dust is out. My taste in jewelry runs far outside my skill set. (Seriously, where does one learn to be a silversmith? And what do you start out with? Ore? Can you actually just buy silver ore? Or do you melt down old jewelry on the stove?) Things made of string or hemp just don’t do it for me.
Anyway, my clever husband figured it out for me: scrapbooking. He gave me an album and a whole bunch of pretty paper and fancy stickers for my birthday. This craft nicely combines my desire for a crafts project with my love of photography, attractive stationery, and stickers, and when it’s done I can put it in the bookcase where I only have to look at it when I want to. Perfect! (Note: there is a lot of tacky scrapbooking stuff out there. Be discerning.) So yeah, that’s what I did for most of Saturday. It was pleasant.
Now I think I’m going to go do some research on how to become a silversmith.