I always liked drawing. The lines and colors didn't call me the same way words danced in my head, and it wasn't the same thrill as reading an old, musty book with my mother's maiden name written on the top of the first page. But I still enjoyed my colored pencils on a white piece of paper.
Until my sister did it better.
Drawing and painting for her was like reading and writing for me. A pencil in her hand was like a magic wand, every stroke making the image in her head come alive and also cursing my joy of art.
Over Spring Break, my friend and I were trying to think of fun craft projects for the weekend. I had an idea for a painting showing a scene from a story I am working on. And suddenly I found myself dipping my brush in paint and liking the results. In those moments, I was more curious to see what I could do instead of protecting myself from a potential failure. The desire to portray my story in another way was suddenly more important than my desire for perfection. For the first time, I did with painting what I have always done with writing; I allowed myself to listen, and then express what I heard.
I did not know I was still mourning the loss of my art until I painted that weekend. As I mixed different hues of blues to create an ocean, I felt joy in the brush and healing wash over me, healing from a wound I didn't know I had.
My sister can paint beautiful scenes, create people out of lines of shading. But so can I. My paintings may never look like hers, but when did it become about the quality instead of the joy?
So this summer I think I will paint. I will paint with my sister on the back deck, asking her questions, getting her advice, watching her work. And I will paint alone to see what I can do. To feel that joy I thought I had lost. To heal.