I’ve always wanted my own art studio.
I am a painter, straight out of art school. I’ve sold a few pieces, but only to a couple family friends. I have a job flipping burgers, but not a job in my field. Yes, art is a field, and it’s the only field I’ve ever loved. I will always have naysayers, but I will always believe in my passion.
My passion doesn’t cover all imperfects of the craft. The naysayers are always loud enough to be heard. That’s why I want my own art studio – I want to drown them out.
I first felt the disapproval of my art from my family. I started painting as a kid, albeit, painting very poorly, but it was a start nonetheless. My brother told me I should spend my play time playing with dolls. “Why do we even have paint?” My ten year old brother would ask. “You’ll never use it when you’re grown up.”
I said I wanted to become a painter when I was eight, when I sat at the kitchen table with my water color set. I can still hear my mother telling me she raised me to be successful business woman like herself, not a “starving artist.” I didn’t know what that was, but I know now. For that’s what I am – I am exactly what my mother didn’t want me to be. I’ve never been much of a rebel, but that changed the day I enrolled in art school. All through my life, I was a fairly ordinary rule follower. My art was where I drew the line – I would break any rules for it.
The most recent of the naysayers was my boyfriend. That’s why he’s not my boyfriend anymore. He’s still here, whispering lies over my shoulder. I mean this quite literally.
I sit in the kitchen table of my studio apartment. I suppose, if you take the word studio there in a different way, I do have my own art studio. It just doubles as my bedroom. I look at my array of paintbrushes, pick one, and stare back at the white canvas.
“I just want you to see how unrealistic you’re being.” Travis acts so concerned. He tries hard to act like a gentleman, but after spending almost a year by his side, I know differently. I say nothing, because I’m thinking about what I want to create next. “Why not come out of this place?”
I frown. “What’s wrong with my apartment?”
“Hon, it’s terrible here. There are mouse traps by the door.”
I shrug. “I saw a problem and I fixed it. I love it here.”
“Your mother says you can live at home again,” he continues. The sound of his voice is so antagonizing I want to vomit. “She knows the CEO of Renderson Enterprises – you heard of them? She says she can get you in, if you choose to do this internship with them. You know, so you can get your foot in the door and move on up the ladder.”
“I don’t want to be a CEO.”
My mother stood behind me in my kitchen, waiting for her time to jump in. My brother sat at the table, his head in his hands. Yes, that’s right. My family and my ex-boyfriend staged an intervention to help me out of my ‘lifestyle.’ No more art for me, they say. That’s when I pull the curtain across my mind. I imagine that the curtain is three feet thick and soundproof. The people in my apartment are no more. It is only there, with just my mind and the canvas, that I can paint.
Hours roll by. I sit on my stool and paint. The curtain is intact. I say nothing else, but they create their own conversation. My mother paces the kitchen, telling me how I should pursue “higher things.” My brother squirms in his seat, intermittently proclaiming that I was naïve to even pursue art as far as I have. Travis whispers false flattery in my ear. He still thinks I was a fool to let him go.
I hear some of their words, but I don’t let it permeate my mind. I only paint. I’m starting to think that I don’t need a real studio after all, since the curtain is working so well.
Finally, there is something on the canvas that I am at least a bit proud of.
My mother, brother, and Travis at last get up to leave.
My brother peers at my easel. “What is it?” He whispers to my mother.
She shrugs. “It’s abstract. How should I know?”
Travis squints. “It looks kind of like a curtain.” Then he turns away and follows them out the door. “Call me soon, baby,” he says before he vanishes.
The door closes. I grin and stare at the wet paint. They say it’s abstract. I say the meaning is explicit.