In a cabinet above the refrigerator there is a nearly flat plastic plate. On the face is a bright blue and orange striped dog frolicking through a field of electric green grass in a medium favored by only by a few professionals: blueberry, orange, and mint scented washable markers. The dog is a wedge-shaped head on an awkward trapezoid body supported by elephantine legs straight from a Dr. Seuss book edited by Picasso. Not exactly “high art,” but close enough for me to decide at four years old that I was going to be a famous artist and rake in cash by the ton.
To my peers, and many of my elders, my desire for being an artist when I have an intellectual side is unwise and downright unintelligent. Artists are those “weird” folks who wear caftans the size of Saudi Arabia, eat food from countries where travel guides advise you to “avoid eating street food and don’t touch the water,” and listen to music CDs with tracks titled “Maylark Sway under the Ponderosa” and “Only an Expert Can Deal With the Problem.” The field of art is, to some, a barren lot in which little money is made and only the very lucky can bloom into fame. The options are few: poets and their disjointed narratives, novelists who stare at blank pages for hours, painters splattering pigment onto old sheets, and lonely violinists who live in drafty attics.
Fortunately, stereotypes are my cup of extra sugar, lemon-twist raspberry ice tea. I will be an artist no matter what happens, even if I do end up in the middle of a barren, over-saturated job field. If I learn all I can, I can survive in a world where fame and fortune are the measure of success for my colleagues. My poor four-year-old self would be sorry to hear that notoriety and big bucks aren’t at the top of the to-do list anymore. Being social was never one of my strengths to begin with anyway. I just want to learn, grow, create, and live free like a blue dog playing in the minty-green grass.