Writer’s Block: Half-Finished Projects

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

I was inside the Port Isabel Public Library recently to take advantage of their microfilm readers in order to view decades’ old copies of the PRESS. While I was there, I noticed some paintings on display by one the Laguna Madre Art League’s local artists. The League’s members often exhibit their work in the library, which makes for an easy way to enjoy some local art.

These paintings were of local animal species, such as ocelots and dolphins, painted on the delicate surface of large feathers. It’s a unique technique, combining found objects, an appreciation for local fauna, and the deft skills of a talented painter.

My own background includes formal training in art, primarily in photography, but also a little bit in printmaking, ceramics and painting. Working a “desk job,” though, means a large portion of my day is spent around words, text, paper and computer screens. It means engaging my left brain a lot more often than my right brain.

And while I enjoy telling stories through the written word, recently I’ve begun to feel an itch. It took a while to realize that itch was coming from my right brain. I miss stretching my creative muscles. I miss watching an image slowly take shape from the blankness of the page before me. In short, I miss making art.

So, I’ve decided to try to get back into it. I know I’m rusty. I know I won’t be very good at first. But I also know exploring artistic pursuits is incredibly rewarding and incredibly fun.

This past weekend, I dug through my things searching for a set of watercolors I know I have. My plan is to create small paintings that only take a session or two to complete — to create bite-sized art, if you will. Any larger a project and I know I’ll be more likely to get halfway through before life gets in the way again.

How do I know that? Because while I was trying to remember where I’d left my paints, I found a half-finished watercolor painting of a bee feeding on a Turk’s cap flower. I also found a cross stitch project I started a couple of summers ago, the Aida cloth still stretched on a hoop. Nearby, a crafting basket sat full with knitting needles and skeins of yarn waiting to be turned into scarves and hats. Some charcoal sticks and a sketch pad weren’t far away, either.

As you can see, this isn’t the first time I’ve felt the itch to let my creative juices flow. And it isn’t the first time I’ve left an exciting new project half-finished. Far too many of my projects will go unfinished, but not all. And sometimes, I do pick them back up again and finish them.

I think trying to make art is similar to any other thing you hope will become a good habit, like exercising regularly, or eating better — you have to start small, one goal at a time, until you build up your endurance. No one becomes a runner by starting with a marathon, after all, right?

So, I’ve felt the itch to art again. This time I’m determined to take full advantage of it. This time I will start small.

What about you? What hobbies have you picked up and left by the wayside over the years? What hobbies have stuck? Let us know online at www.portisabelsouthpadre.com.

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