Returning Back to Art after 20 Years

When I was a kid, art was my life. I remember when I was in first grade, a child dared me to draw a picture of a horse that was on a pack of crayons. She said there was no way I could draw it, and so I set to prove her wrong. When I finished, the children excitedly snatched the drawing out of my hands to show the teacher. They were that impressed. I remember the teacher said “You must have traced it”. She refused to believe it was drawn free-hand.

In High School I took many art classes and any free time I had was spent drawing. If I had my choice back then, I would have made some kind of career out of it. Although my parents liked my artwork, they did not want me to do it for a living. “You wont make any money” my dad would complain. I remember my Junior Year of High School I was looking up different careers and the average salary of each one and running them by my dad. He decided that I should take the same career path as his brother, even going to the same College and everything.

Even though my parents did not financially contribute to my education, I still felt beholden to them. At that time I was seeing a lot of my peers “make their own decisions” and having things go horribly wrong for them. It just felt like there was so much risk and that the safest choice was to just listen to my parents. So I stopped making art completely.

I always thought that since I was a natural, I could always come back to it and pick up where I left off. It turns out I was wrong and after 20 years of not using a sketch pad, my skills had really atrophied. I’m honestly not even back to the level I was at in High School. Sometimes I think about what would have happened if I kept at it for those 20 years instead of letting it go. Instead I’m here trying to relearn how to draw.

The irony is that just a few days after my college graduation, my father passed away suddenly. I was left holding the degree he wanted me to get from the college he wanted me to go to, faced with a future of living someone else’s life. I realized then how pointless it was to live the life our parents want us to live. Our parents die before we do. They’re not even there to bare witness to this life they’re insisting you live for them. But even still, I continued on to my corporate career and was absolutely miserable.

Call it a midlife crisis, call it a spiritual awakening, but by my late-30s I was ready to go back to that life I had wanted for myself at 15. I started drawing again and making art. I decided that I would make my own oracle deck. If all goes according to plan, my deck should go live November 1st on Kickstarter. I’m just waiting to get my deck copy from the printer so I can get some pictures taken.

This deck kind of took forever to make and I can honestly say it’s a labor of love. Seeing the digital mock-ups of the finished deck honestly brought a tear to my eye. This is what I was meant to be doing all along. Is it going to take extra effort to get those art skills back? Absolutely! But I don’t even care.

These thoughts of “I’m too old” and “It’s too late to start over” are what keeps us from ever realizing our dream. I see 20 year-olds on Reddit writing the same thing. 20 year-olds! A decade from now you’re always going to be happy that you started over and did this for yourself. There’s plenty of time, but there’s also no time to waste. At some point you just have to decide to break the rules and start living for yourself.

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