Thursday, August 6, 2009

Art Update

How weird is this, people? Or person, since I'm pretty sure no one is reading this blog but me (and that's my fault, okay? I'm shy). In six days, I made twenty times more money off art than I ever have off writing. Two pieces have sold out of my show. All right, yes, my dad bought one—but it was real small and he was going to buy something anyway. The other one sold to—I think—friends, though they haven't 'fessed up.

On the one hand, I'm completely charmed. It's like magic. Melt some wax and smear it on a board and I've discovered this thing called encaustic. Who knew there was an actual name for it? And that it was 2000 years old? Though I worked hard and addressed a ton of technical issues in my rush to hang a show in a month, I never lost my sense of joyful disaster. It was not fun exactly, but it was completely absorbing. I still think about it all the time.

On the other hand, I have an MFA in writing, I've published several short stories. I have a novel I'm in the middle of rewriting. I write, that's my identity. So WTF? Let me repeat that: WTF?

Here's the thing. My brother, Jason and I, were constantly drawing, sculpting in clay and sometimes steel, and making vitrified porcelain enamel panels and tiles. Other projects as needed, though not so much painting. Jason was two years younger and his work always looked so precise and contained. To my eye, it looked really good. My work was wobbly and all over. I drew a lot of castles and horses. Our parents seemed to praise his work more than mine, and I eventually stopped doing art stuff. So years later, my brother is gone (a long story, for another time) and I'm having a glass of wine with the parents. By then I've been to Reed and pretty much set myself on the path that will eventually lead to my making $25 per story (whoo). One of the parents asks, inevitably, "why writing?" I reply, "Jason was so gifted visually. He was the one who had the talent." Their mouths drop open in unison. After stuttering, one of them says, "No, K, you were the one with the talent."

Note to other parents out there: Tell your kid before they become English majors at rigorous private colleges.

As I write the above story, I realize that I am still a kid, living in the world where if one kid has something it automatically means the other kid doesn't. Why couldn't both artists' kids have talent? As a child I couldn't fathom such a thing. It was an either/or. So I chose writing, which meant never doing visual art again.

Is everyone like this? Or have I been wrong-headed all my life?

Anyway, I still want to sell my book. I thought of this cool way to up-tension the whole thing. More about that later. In the meantime, someone I know just sold to Ellery Queen. No cheap rag there!


  1. No one here.
    This should be a lesson to you.
    From now on, write your books in beeswax and hang the pages in a gallery. Think how many pieces a collector would have to buy to read the whole thing!

  2. Yes, this is the obvious decision. I wish I'd thought of it a few years ago.

  3. If I knew someone who'd sold to EQMM, I'd murder them and steal their identity. Damn! that sounds like a good plot for an EQMM story. Guess I'd better go write it.

  4. How can I announce whodunnit now? Someone named Psycho may kill my old pal Dave Lewis who just sold to EQMM. You'll never get his identity from me.