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By Kimara - Posted on 08 April 2008

            Spring is here. You know how I know? It’s not because the robins and red winged blackbirds have returned to our yard, although they have. It’s not because there is a multitude of tiny squirrels raiding the bird feeders, although they are. And it’s not because the bulbs are pushing past last year’s yard debris, although there appearance does in fact herald the arrival of spring. No, the undisputable indicator of spring is my yearly rummage through my craft area looking for my watercolors and sketch pads. Now this, in and of itself, may not seem like anything unusual. Nice weather makes us want to open windows, fly kites, plant trees, and get outside to do some watercolors. The only thing is, over the past 25 years, each spring I always assemble my watercolor collection, and NEVER paint or draw a darn thing!


            My family knows of this unrequited desire. And they try to be supportive and encouraging. Just about everyone who knows me, at one time or another, has bought me paints, sketch paper, and pencils. They’ve bought me nature journals and watercolors. They’ve bought books that inspire and instruct…yet I’ve yet to open a single tube of paint.  


            Tim says maybe I need an easel. Eureka! I think he’s right. I also think he just made more work for himself, as I send him off to Home Depot to buy the supplies necessary for constructing a personalized easel. Let’s see…I’ll need a cup holder for my diet Pepsi…and a little clip where I can hang my cell phone. And, oh yes, I’ll want a stool…and perhaps it should be adjustable. And since I can, I think I’ll have him install a garden umbrella with a 360 degree turn radius allowing for the greatest solar control. Did I mention that I will need somewhere to hold an iPod? Music can be very inspirational when painting. Anyway, I’m sure with a quality easel I’ll finally start painting!


            “Yeah right”, she says, with a noticeable amount of sarcasm! When it comes right down to it, I don’t paint because I don’t know how. I want to. I mean I reeeeaaaaallllly want to. I’ve signed up to take classes, but something always seems to come up, and it’s never worked out. Who am I kidding? Truth be told, I’m intimidated. When I see some things past students have painted, and I go all limp in the wrists. How could I possibly hold a paintbrush? I look at a virgin piece of paper and I get the phalange equivalent of being tongue tied! I suppose I’m use to being good at the things I do…sometimes even “the best”. I can knit and sew with confidence and ease. I can hold my own at cooking and decorating. But short of this one cute drawing of my old dog that I’ve perfected over the years, when I draw something, it’s about a 50/50 chance that others will know what it is. There was this one Pictionary incident that will live in infamy, when my frustration resulted in me impaling my sister-in-law with my uncooperative pencil! You know, you stick a pencil in someone’s forehead ONCE, and they never let you forget it! Anyway, I’m reminded of the scene in The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery where the young boy draws a picture of a boa constrictor right after it swallowed an elephant. Having shown this picture to many adults, and all of them insisting that it’s a fine hat, he gets very frustrated. I can’t remember if he gives up drawing or just showing his pictures to adults. I totally get how he feels. Perhaps my talents are simply misunderstood…Nah.


            So, as always, spring is here and I’ve started assembling my multitude of artistic supplies. Although I may not be an artist, it can never be said that I’m not a cockeyed optimist! Besides, this year is going to be different. This year I’m going to throw caution to the wind, unscrew a tube of watercolor and, and….and probably screw it back on again! No, darn it, not this year. This year I’m going to do it! I’m going to take my paints into the garden and actually use them. And then, out of gumption or sheer spite, I’m going to hang them all over my walls as if I’m proud as punch of them! When people say, “Hey, that’s a nice…mountain?” I’ll just say, “Silly adult! THAT is a dappled daisy unfurling her petals in the early morning sun! Or was it a caterpillar?” Doesn’t matter…I’ll be painting!


Everyone, or at least I’m hoping everyone, is intimated about something they’d like to try. What’s that one thing you’ve always wanted to attempt but just haven’t?    

If you would create something, you must be something. - Reba Rambo-McGuire

Ahh...I bet SC was gorgeous this time of year. I'm just excited to see my grass and even a few crocuses! It's even supposed to be 60 this week! Much as the South in Spring is lovely, we have enjoyed the anticipation of season change this year. We missed that being down South. It appears that a duck family has taken up residence in the marshy area across the street! The boys are very excited. I'm hoping for some baby ducks joining the Mommy and Daddy duck later this spring.

Thanks for the blog-plug. I'd better get working on some of my creations so people have something to read. I finally finished the "spiderman" capes that I was working on for a friend. They turned out great. I will post a pic. So now I can return to my embroidered bunny. It's almost done. I bought some great veggie patterns from Sublime Stitching that I want to try out on a little cafe apron next. And of course I have to figure out what to do with that Ginger Blossom fabric. The fabric coiled baskets are an intriguing idea.

After a 5 day mini trip down to see Adam in South Carolina I'm scrambling to get my blog together for tomorrow. Fortunately, I'm not tired at all so I'll plug ahead.

As always...thanks for all the comments. I'm delighted to see you sharing ideas with one another. Please make sure to share the blog with anyone you think might enjoy us!

Sarah...thanks for the suggestions. I am going to do exactly what you, Tina and Michelle have suggested...just play with color! Looking forward to it. Also, good luck getting to Europe! You have lots of time and as your children get a little older it will have more meaning for them, too!

Tina...I've known so many people that used Suzuki for violin and guitar and loved it! My girlfriend, the pew slider, started playing the violin in her 40s. Never too late to chase those dreams. Also, I've been a square foot gardener for 20 years. It's a wonderful way to get lots out of the garden and keep weeds down. Good luck with it.

Cheryl...when I was in 5th grade I took 10 weeks of guitar then put it away. My brother continued lessons for the next couple of years and I then regretted not sticking with it. HOWEVER, when I went away to college I took up the guitar myself...buying a few guitar music books...I was big into John Denver and Joni Mitchell at the time :) Turned out it wasn't as hard as I thought. Am I good...not really...but all the kids I play for think I'm great! Just learn to pick the right audience and have fun :)

Candy...this summer I'm doing a blog called "Getting Misplaced". When my children were young and summer days dragged on, we'd take mini road trips. We'd point the car in a direction and just go. Our whole goal was to get misplaced. It was extremely liberating to just go. Because of it we discovered many cool out-of-the-way places. You don't need to do some huge cross country trip to feel like a rebel :)

Lisa...if you want company visit Tina at her new craft blog She is trying so many new and exciting crafts...from knitting to felting to sewing. She's inspired me and I'm sure she will you too! Life is so full of things to do...I often complain that we have to lose so many hours to sleep! does my heart good to know you yearn to certainly is different when it is your own and an expression of your own creativity. Perhaps I'm not a watercolor artist (yet) but I've always viewed gardening as a painting with flowers. It's alive and dynamic, and centers you. And not to worry, we'll eventually work our way through the rocks.

And to all the readers...

One of my favorite poems of all times was penned by Pulitzer Prizer winner Edna St. Vincent Millay

“My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends
It gives a lovely light!

Seize the day...try it all :)

Michelle, DH is going to do "square foot gardening" this year. I have heard it talked a lot about as an easy and efficient method for vegetable gardening. It recommends that you use 4x4 square plots, and you can even just start with one small one. Because of the square, raised method, it uses 20% of the space of a traditional garden, and there are no worries about the current soil quality. We already have some seeds started in those little peat greenhouses. They are totally random because I let Jack pick them out at store, but that's okay. Melon, cukes and basil. I think we are going to start most things directly or buy seedlings, but I thought the little 36 peat pot greenhouse thing would be fun for the boys. In any case, check out the book. Lots of great, accessible ideas.

Or you could start small with a container garden of tomatoes and herbs on that deck. I've always had success with a pot of tomato seedlings with basil planted around the base of the tomato plant. Drink your beer or iced tea on the deck as you watch your basil grow! In GA, where our house was so shady, we put our herbs in containers on the driveway because it was the only sunny spot and I figured the heat reflected off the driveway didn't hurt! (And our soil was just awful sand.) It really wasn't attractive, but the herbs were yummy!

That's really funny about the rabbits though.

My biggest thing I would love to do but have never really jumped into full heartedly… Gardening. Which is amazing considering my background but I guess I just didn’t inherit that green thumb. I do not enter some zen-like state when settling the mud, dirt under the finger nails, weeds in my hair… unlike just about every other woman in my family. I have a deep appreciation for them… just no real desire to upkeep them myself. My mom is a prolific gardener with garden nooks and crannies covering most of her yard. My grandma is almost spookily in tune with plants and actually grew a peach tree from a pit, of a fruit she ate… in Michigan. We aren’t exactly known for our peach trees. I think my aunt has actually covered enough of her yard in gardens that she only needs to turn her lawn mower around about 3 times before she is done mowing. I on the other hand enter the yard with grand intentions, take a look around, sigh and well, decide that a beer on the deck sounds like more fun. It doesn’t help that the previous owners of our home filled every bed with rocks and I literally can’t dig a hole anywhere near the house to save my life and the one spot I had mapped out (ie boards on the ground outlining the area I had planned to excavate) for a veggie bed was comically visited by 3 rabbits while I was pointing out the area to my hubby from the deck. It was as if they were eagerly awaiting the crops. A neatly organized vegetable bed is really up my alley and I would love to have one some day. My own organic veggies! Maybe this year… or maybe I will just plant another tree. If I plant enough trees does that count?

I want to try EVERYTHING domestic! My head is whirling. I never learned any of the things you get from your mom and grandma. I'm not complaining, they did what they could, I just want more for myself and my family. Being fair, I personally want something different for us. So, what do I really want to do that I've never done before? The list is long! I want to learn to knit and sew and bake and get the disgusting ring out of the toilet. I clean, I just can't get rid of the ring. See what I'm talking about, I WANT TO LEARN EVERYTHING. I have been experimenting in the kitchen. I've had a fair amount of success but I do find around 4:00 I'm not always feeling so daring! I've been cooking more on the weekends. I also just joined this neighborhood knitting group. They've been together for a couple of years but they said they welcome "my kind", the totally inept! So I'm learning to knit dishclothes. Nothing fancy and I guess a couple of funky holes won't hurt. What fun to finally get a chance to try new things. Good luck with the painting, Kim. Look at it this way, even if you don't turn out museum quality paintings, you'll have fun. I want to see some finished master pieces online soon!

I've always wanted to be more artistic and try actual lessons to help with that, but never have. I can barely draw a stick person half the time, LOL. Another thing I've always wanted to do but can never really get the nerve is to just drive and drive and see where it takes us. That may sound odd, but I'm such a goal oriented person that I can't get past the " no goal" at the end of a random road trip!

Good luck with the painting!

This one’s easy! I grew up listening to my mom’s records. My favorites were the female singers like Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins and Joan Baez. I really wanted to play the guitar and write songs just like those women, but we just never seemed to be able to afford a guitar. Then last year for my 30th birthday my boyfriend bought me a guitar. He plays and began teaching me. He’s gone but the guitar remains. For a while I couldn’t bear to think about it but just recently I brought it out again and at least I’m looking at it now. I know there are lots of places online that teach guitar. Think spring is as good a time as any to start again. BTW I can’t draw either. My friends like to play Pictionary and they use this big easel. I’m referred to as “the handicap”.

Sarah, that is so cool that all your tutoring money goes into the Europe fund! I can't wait to take my boys to Europe. DH and I were just talking about it the other day and thinking we'd do Ireland first since it's a bit less of a "culture shock" for a first-timer, since they speak English! And DH and I have never been there. Although, I'd love to go to Barcelona or Paris again, or Bavaria, or Rome, or....okay, I just want to go everywhere! I've been throughout Europe when I was younger (pre-children), and I'd just love to do it with DH and the boys. We are thinking maybe when they are 7 and 9.

I'm not a painter personally, but I was also going to say that you shouldn't try to paint "something." Just paint! With the artistic eye that you have, I bet you will do wonderful things with color!

I've always wanted to learn to play the violin. But I've just never attempted to move forward with the idea. I'm actually considering signing the boys up for the local Suzuki school, sort of because I'd like to learn along with them! When I was in college, I had always wanted to learn to play piano but never had. So I took classes in college. I was not very good, but I was happy that I had done it and tried!

Yahoo! Finally, I get to give you a little advice! I paint. Mostly oils now, but I do enjoy watercolors. Here’s my suggestion. Forget about painting “something”. Instead, take your paints outside and play with color. Experiment with shades and tones. Blend colors. Try streaks and swirls. Another words, just have fun! After you start getting comfortable using the paints then look at something you’d like to paint, like flowers, trees, the sky, etc. But instead of trying to “draw” the scene, just practice using the right colors. How do you make the pinks pink…the greens green…the greys grey? Again paint swirls and dots, streaks and different width lines. Only after you are totally comfortable with what the paints can do should you worry about trying to make them look like something else. I think you’ll get a sense of satisfaction out of your experiments. They will be pretty to look at and you can cut them up and turn them into greeting cards or use in a collage! If you have any other questions about painting, just email me.

I always wanted to take modern jazz. I got dance lessons when I was young, ballet, but I wanted jazz. Of course my mom thought it was vulgar and not how nice girls danced. Boy, I really should be more messed up than I am! I don’t think I’ll probably go take jazz lessons, although I know our community center has jazz for adults. I wasn’t a good ballerina besides it isn’t a burning desire. I guess the biggest thing I want is to offer my kids choices. I don’t want to make them all for them. I also want to go to the art museums in Europe. We were going to do it the summer after we got married but I decided to have a baby instead! More like the baby decided. I have not given up the dream. When the kids are a little older we will go, all of us. I tutor and all the money goes into our Europe fund. Have a nice week all and enjoy the spring…Kim told me its sprung, so it must be true ;)