Friday, June 5, 2009

How to Feed Your Soul on $3 a Day or Less

In a parallel, just-like-ours-but-ever-so-different multi-verse (see the TV show "Fringe" for a definition if you're not a sci-fi geek like me), I am a professional artist. You've seen my paintings  in galleries from San Francisco to Laguna Beach and right on down the coast to La Jolla. You've read of me as the premier California artist. You may even be holding in your hand this instant the glittering invitation to the grand opening gala of my new gallery in downtown Laguna.

I've just given you a peek at my daydreams when my  life as an ordinary person wears me down a bit. Driving the kids to practice or folding laundry I often lapse into this fantasy. It's a fun fantasy, and one that some times makes my heart hurt a little because I might have made a pretty good artist (altho I am not arrogant enough to say I would ever have come close to the unparalleled success of my daydreams).

Truth is, I was blessed with some artistic talent from the time I was a small child. My mom saved some of my drawings from when I was around 3/4 years old, natch. I was astonished when I saw them--I had gobs of talent. But as I grew up I never thought much about it. I used it alot--one of my favorite presents to give to childhood friends were drawings, which they always seemed to love. I made intricate hand-made cards for my parents. 

One of my mom's forever favorites of these was one I gave her and my dad for their anniversary when I was about 8. On the front it showed a couple holding hands as they gazed into each other's eyes, with a glorious sunset in the background. On the inside I'd written "Make Love Each Day." Naturally, being 8, I had no idea what sent my parents into gales of delighted laughter when they read the card. I remember distinctly my dad saying, "We do!" My mom still has that card!

But life happened and I never did anything with my talent until it hit me in my mid-30s that maybe I should have done the art route instead of PR. I did end up taking art classes, but I didn't have the time to devote to learning all the basics I so desperately needed to know (I have a screwy thing with proportions--all my people look like long-limbed mutants with overly large eyes). It ended up okay--I spent a couple years doing murals and painting furniture for friends & family & the occasional customer, and countless hours drawing coloring pages for my two daughters, who much preferred my drawing style to that of the Disney coloring books (gotta love my girls; always my biggest cheerleaders). It's all good. I would have made different choices had I known then what I know now, but who, when you really think about it, doesn't feel that way about something in their life? Which explains why "If I knew then what I know now..." is the most overused phrase in the entire world. 

Very luckily for me, one of my best friends did take the art route, and the world is a better place for it. Larissa Marantz (yup, she of the Obama inaugural painting--check out her blog at is an amazing artist whose work has been featured not only in books, shows, the OC Register (cover of the A & L section, natch) but also, you guessed it, Laguna Beach. In fact, if you are headed down to Laguna Beach, take a look at the light posts. The one right on Ocean & PCH (right near the big white lifeguard tower--or is it a lighthouse? All these year's I've been going there and I still haven't figured that out) you will see the huge banner she painted to celebrate the city of Laguna. She also happens to be an instructor at LCAD, so she has real ties to the community. 

So last night she and I and her hubby Keith went down to Laguna to see her huge banner on proud display. It was very exciting for me, because just such a thing has been part of my "me-as-famous-artist" fantasy since the very beginning. Seeing her success is thrilling for me, not just because I adore her and am glad for the good things in her life, but because she actually took that God-given talent and is sharing it with the rest of us. While my art is limited to the occasional mural, drawings for my kids, and doodles on the church bulletins during services (yes, I have earned many a scowl from my husband, a church Deacon, for covering the words to the hymns with drawings of women in evening gowns, but dude! Ya gotta admit, sermons can be pretty dull!) hers is out there for all of us to enjoy. And as her recognition grows, more and more people will have the same warm feeling in their chest as I do when I look at her work. 

So after taking several pics from a variety of angles of her banner, the three of us toured the many art galleries along PCH and in down town. Since it was the first Thursday of the month, it was Art Walk. Galleries are open until 9:00 and there's wine and cheese. And if you know me, you know art and free wine and cheese will get me every time (don't even ask what I'd do for a piece of dark chocolate!) 

With each gallery we went in, I felt the stress of the day literally falling away. Art does that for me. Looking at art fills a hole in my soul that I usually don't even know is there. Art feeds my soul. While I typically like images of people, a bold landscape will get me every time. With each painting, my soul filled a little more. (I overstuffed myself at the Louvre in Paris, tho--spent 10 hours there and at the end of the day I couldn't remember a thing I saw...)

One of the best parts was actually getting to talk to the artists themselves. Regular people who just happened to have an amazing talent. One of the best artists and friendliest people we met last night was Patrick Whelan, an amazing illustrator and fine artist whose ability to paint people (my fave subject) just blew me away. And finding out that each of these oil paintings took just a week to complete was astonishing. (I, on the other hand, have been working on a painting of a girl getting ready for a date since the last months of the Bush administration. And it's only 1/3 completed!) And Patrick even indulged my request for a picture--lucky me! 

On the far end of the spectrum from Patrick (art-wise, anyway; he was just as friendly & open) was a young guy who goes by the name "Boey." You ever have a drink out a Styrofoam cup, then doodle all over the cup after you're done? (say you're sitting in a really boring meeting and it's all you can do to keep yourself from going insane?) Well, Boey has created an entire mini-empire out of Styrofoam cups and Sharpie drawings. Seriously. He has drawn intricate pictures on ordinary cups, encased them in plastic--and viola! Art. Really, super cool. I took a pic of them but it didn't come out'll have to check out his website to see for yourself. 

There's soooo much more, but if you've made it to the bottom of the page I salute you. I do tend to run on a bit! Next month, Larissa and I are headed down to Art Walk again. And if you, too, feel like feeding your soul (you don't have to be an art lover--the gorgeous sunset over the glowing blue ocean will do it) you're welcome to meet us there. 

And as for the $3? Parking. Right, Keith? (wink, wink)

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