21 Mar

My mum always told me how awful she was at art.

I’ve always told everyone how awful I am at art. 

I believed it too. When I grew up a little bit and knew what ‘art’ meant or what people meant by it, that is. And when I had to do it on a thin piece of paper with water colours.

The colours spilled outside my stubby pencil lines, and they were always too precise. The thing is no one taught me to find beauty and put it down. Inadequately but lovingly.

I tried to find the ‘beach scene’ and the ‘festival’ and everything else they assigned,

and I tried to find the beauty in the teacher’s eye.

You know what they say…

I wish I’d sat down and painted what was in my head, one evening outside of homework. But I knew by then I was no good at art.

I mean, I usually made just a couple of careless mistakes in maths. They loved my writing and published it. I knew what was in my head. I called it a picture once. And I could write it. I had learned to love the picture in my head. In the writing box, that is. But art class…

One afternoon, we all brought our art down to the recess area for class. I remember those colours now – I loved the grey and red shades I had managed to achieve. I can’t find them on my computer though 😦

The teacher had comments for books she liked. A select few. The others were tossed to the left of the class, as she ticked them off, in a correction frenzy pushing towards end-of-term.

I walked up to get it as the book gracefully flew out of the teacher’s hand and on to the floor. She wasn’t looking.

That wasn’t the only time my art book got thrown.

I’ve learnt to do pretty cupcake icing after three trials. It takes time. I’ve learnt to put crafty things together, stitch a bag, make a card better than the last one, calligraphy. I LOVE some of my photographs and I’ve made posters.

Maybe my mum’s not that awful at art.

One day, I want to find a friend, a large canvas and some paints…

Jana Sterbak’s Sisyphus Sport, 1997. Granite backpack. Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.


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