Bookmark and Share

Driving in your lane with an artistic license

This column should be called, “The artist’s lane and your lane too!”

Maybe it should be, “A Crazy writer driving with an artistic license!”

Or, “What Box? There are boundaries? Where?”

Recently, I wrote a brilliant article. Anyway, I thought it was. I could hardly wait to read it to my family, my truthful and trustworthy critics. Oh me. I didn’t see the oncoming drivers on the road of life.

I read my well-thought-out article to the family.

My daughter says, “Mother, it sounds like a Sunday school lesson. You’ve lost your focus. Some times you are really out there.”

My son-in-law jumps in with his comment, “I feel like I am reading a Dear Ann Landers Column. If you wrote for a big newspaper your column would be toast. It’s the Artist’s Lane.”

“My sweet Al, says, “Write humor and write about artists. You get too deep.”

I thought he was the one who asked a few months ago, “Why do you always have to write to artists? Others read your articles too.”

It’s amazing how fickle fans will change when the noise is louder on the other team.

I was built up in my thinking that I had done something good, when unexpected comments came upon me and threw me into a tail spin and out of control. I crashed and I became pretty pitiful, “My friends like my deep truths, my church friends tell me they are inspiring and even transforming and other people think your Dad is funny. Others ask for my advice. Maybe grace has run out.”

“Mother, just stop it,” my daughter said, “You are on a pity party. You’re getting better. You just need to readjust your thinking.”

This article is No. 100. I’m marking two and half years of writing a weekly column. I’ve been bumped a couple of times, but I am still on the highway with an artistic license. I have three backseat drivers riding with me, my fenders flopping, a stream of oil on the highway, my foot on the gas and I don’t know where the brake is, I’m still racing my engine.

The column started as a fluke. I felt that the artists needed a voice, understanding and encouragement and I began sending in articles under the title, “Life in the Artist’s Lane!” I was amazed and was overcome in giddiness when the newspaper actually ran all my articles and people told me they were reading them.

The first article read something like this, “The smell of turpentine, the thrill of oil paints, the roar of the engine, the cheer of the crowds, this is the life in the artist’s lane. I am ready. I am sitting behind the wheel of a hopped-up car with a loud 350 horsepower engine, squealing my new set of wheels. I am sixteen (going on sixty) and driving without a driver’s license. I am ready to tell the world, ‘Watch out, I am on the highway of writers, I’ve been an artist for forty years, and now I am writing about them.’”

Eventually to my surprise, I was asked to write a weekly column. The editor said, “Come in, get a head shot, but I am concerned about your sustainability.”

My response was, “Are you kidding, I will never run out of material for artists. They have so many crazy things going on in their head and around them.”

And sure enough, I haven’t run out of material, I live as an artist, but I am changing all the time as a person. Inspiration comes on me, and I go with it.

When I walk into my studio, I love the smell of turpentine and paint and inspiration takes over, I rive my motor, ideas come and I have to paint. When I sit at my computer, life comes in and I want to tell everyone the things I have learned recently. If it brings clarity to someone, then I’ve been successful in conveying my heart in words instead of paint.

A reader writes, “It’s very interesting to me ... I am not an artist per se, but as a contemplative, I could relate to some. Are you writing specifically to artists, or are you trying to help ‘non-artists’ understand the artist a bit more?”

I say, “Maybe yes, and maybe no. I don’t know what I am doing. I write about what I know. Whatever you get, is what I’ve got.”

So, in my articles, I have crossed the double yellow line and jumped over a couple of lanes. I’ve driven in your lane; I’ve been in Al’s lane, back in my own, and in the artist and writer’s lane. I’ve changed since that first article. Maybe, it’s a senior moment. I have meandered down memory lane, hard-time lanes, and made circles in victory lane.

We’ve crossed the Red Sea together with Moses and gone through the wilderness. We’ve lived through a couple of hard winters together in Pagosa; wrote about the poet’s mistress, I’ve taken you into my bedroom with the brown throne and looked for Al’s Hawaiian shirts.

So I made a trip to see the editor of the newspaper who understands artistic license. After all he cruises parking lots looking for bumper stickers and gross behavior.

I told him my tale of woe, “I have three backseat drivers, I’ve been practicing on the back roads of Pagosa, I’m behind the wheel of an awesome machine and I want to hit all the bumps and puddles. I have so much to write about, and my column is The Artist’s Lane. Will you tell me when I go over the double yellow line?”

“Don’t worry, I will. You’re doing fine. You might mention artists once in awhile.”

“Whew! I’m not toast yet. I’m off again to the world of words.”

So when I am driving on your side of the road; just smile, honk and wave. You might have to dodge me once in a while when I cross the line. My mind is probably wandering and thinking about the next article.

If you see me stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire, I might need a lift or need to borrow your air pump. If my writing takes a detour and I end up on some bumpy back road, humor me, take a ride with me and enjoy the scenery in this awesome adventure, called “writing.” I am so thankful for you, my readers; you’ve hung in there with me. One day, I might get my “writer’s” license and figure out what I am doing.

Final brushstroke: Life is always an adjustment. Blessed is the one who can change with it.

Artist’s quote

“There comes a moment when you have to stop revving up the car and shove it into gear.” — David Mahoney, executive and philanthropist.

Reader’s comments

E-mail bettyslade@centurytel.net with your comments.