You have been with me since the day I was born. You helped me when I was bored at school, doodling when I should’ve been paying attention to my teachers. When my asthma was at my worst as a child, you helped keep me company when I couldn’t play with the other kids. If family members didn’t know what to get me for my birthday or Christmas, you were their safest bet, even if I didn’t know how to use certain materials they got me (all that charcoal would come in handy today).
As high school came around, you slowly faded away. Sports and academics became my number one priority. You were simply something I did in my notebook if I wasn’t already snoring in class from lack of sleep. I did some designs here and there for homecoming and prom, but you were just another hobby of mine. It wasn’t until my senior year that you slowly came back into my life. My football and lacrosse careers were officially over, and college was coming in fast. I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life, so I took the safest bet and decided to major in graphic design, having no clue what I wanted to do with art as a job, hearing all the jokes that you will never make a living as an artist. I didn’t care though. I figured if I’m doing something I love, everything will work out.
My first studio art class in college, I realized how far behind I was in terms of technique and knowledge.It was overwhelming to see how good others were, dedicating their entire lives to their art, as I was only keeping it as a hobby. As time went on, however, I was learning how to prime a canvas, how to properly shade with charcoal and all the Adobe apps, from Photoshop to InDesign. Best of all, though, I was having fun with it. I was excited to learn about anything new; I looked forward to every project. I loved art so much, I went to a summer program in New York for art. That fire inside of me was burning brighter than it ever had before. When I finished all my core classes, I was ecstatic to know I would only be taking art classes, only doing something I love for a whole semester. If only I knew back then.
Five art classes, with two of them being at the same time. Research, then progress submissions and final pieces, all due on the same day. The first few projects were troubling, but it all got done, at the cost of sleep. Then slowly, it started to become a chore instead of a passion. One project was done, another was getting started. I cleaned the oil paint off myself only to be covered in charcoal the next minute. Then, at one point, I just snapped. I couldn’t dare to look at you anymore. I wanted to throw away all my paint, canvases, sketchbooks and pencils. I was tired of you and didn’t want you in my life at that point. The fire that burned brighter than the sun was barely a candle that was finally blown out.
Fall break came and I didn’t think of you during that time. Once classes started again, it was back to the old routine. We are still on rocky waters, but this time I’ve been able to manage you better. While I shouldn’t, I’ve focused more on what I want to make, not listening too much to the professors’ requirements. I don’t want you to feel like an academic requirement — I want you to be my passion again, something that once helped me explain myself when words couldn’t, something that helped me in my darkest moments.
I don’t know how the rest of this semester will go. I hate to leave this on a sad note, but hopefully this will all work out in the end.
You can contact Gabriel Zarazua at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.