While I got all kinds of art-type encouragement from my family, I think it was my Granny May who really started me down the "color outside the lines" path. She'd started painting late in her life, and she flung her lifetime of "can'ts, shouldn'ts, and don'ts" at those hapless canvasses. She never progressed beyond "primitive," but she told me something I'll never forget: it takes a lot of skill even to make a bad painting.
We used to watch the John Nagy art show on the little black-and-white TV in her apartment, and one Christmas she bought me his special art kit. I was undone. I now owned an official sketchpad, charcoal, an instructional book, a paper stump for blending the charcoal on the paper, a sandpaper board for sharpening the pencils, and--the most incredible thing of all--a kneaded eraser. I'd venture to say that I was probably the only person in our little town of Crosbyton, Texas, all 2000 of us, who had both a blending stump and a kneaded eraser in the 1950s.
I like to think that our shared art gave Granny and me a bit of distance from the small town mindset. Eventually I moved on, with Granny's backing, to making oil paintings, too, and, like hers, mine weren't ever destined to hang in the Louvre. In retrospect, though, I think the most important things I learned from her were that it's never too late to start something you're passionate about and that it's okay, in fact it's necessary, to color outside the lines if you ever want to do anything new.
I have a birthday every year at the beginning of January, but this year's was important. The big Six-O, kick-off for a decade. I celebrated with my family and friends, had way too many treats, went to Vegas to see the Cirque de Soleil, and will make my first trip to Italy in June with my daughter, Kate. But, to me, the most amazing thing about this year is what, at the dawning of this late-ish period in my life, I find myself having the opportunity to do. Already in these few months of 2008, I've launched a new enterprise as a doll maker. My husband Juan Miranda and my daughter and friends are indulging me, as always, in my current obsession. My good friends Donna and Kirk, owners of Bazzirk, and their designer Kyle are building me a totally cool website that will launch within a few days. And I, confirmed luddite, am blogging!
I refuse to be anything but optimistic in the face of such reckless encouragement. And if my Granny May were with us today, she'd recognize herself here, sailing into uncharted waters at sixty, harvesting the fruit of all those seeds she planted in me half a century ago and every single day joyfully, blissfully, with abandon, coloring outside the lines.