I didn’t do well in college, for all the reasons that are probably going through your head. But one phrase, from my painting teacher, really crushed me. She said I needed to “stop being so precious.” I’ve heard it in my head now for years, my go-to phrase meaning “you aren’t very good, so don’t bother.” She said it loudly, frustrated with me, and my sad attempts at painting on large canvases. I didn’t understand that it was okay that I didn’t really “get” being an expressive painter, throwing my emotions on the canvas and splashing around. I didn’t understand that she was actually a pretty poor teacher. I knew that I liked small. I liked intimate. I liked friendly. (Okay, I was also lazy, but let’s not get into that.) There were no classes on illustrating (this wasn’t an art school)… and I was distracted by being 19 years old, so I never bothered to figure out that there might be other mentors around.
So today I was feeling frustrated. I had started 2 more starry skies last night, a hawk, and a horse, and neither worked out. I told myself that was fine, practice is good… but since these are small, and yes, “precious,” I heard that same voice in my head and started wondering why I was bothering trying to do a series. Today, this mole popped into my head, a shiny little fellow poking his head out to sniff around at the stars. (Mole Smells the Stars)
While working on him, the calm settled on me, it’s become obvious to me that I’ve picked the right animal when I feel happy while painting. According to Ted Andrews, mole “shows us how to dig out our own treasures in life through our own efforts.” I think he’s precious. Hopefully you are all on the path to finding your own treasure as well.