A Painting Makeover and a Happy Ending, by Jay


Growing Up Austin


Growing Up Austin

Life has been a mess and I can’t fix everything, but I decided I would fix the three blank canvases that had been hanging up in our loft for two years. I showed up at my friend Jay’s house with the blank canvases, a bag of brand new paints and printouts from Art.com.

The printouts were in two categories: 1) paintings I felt like I could recreate – a big blue square, a geometric pattern of thumb print smudges and a single swirly flower and 2) paintings I actually liked.

Jay threw out the category 1 printouts. She was serious. These paintings were going to be amazing.

She talked to me about the paintings I liked, then she placed the canvases next to each other on the table and went to work. She was in the moment, focused,  inspired and passionate, grabbing paints of all different colors, rolling, brushing and dripping, moving so fast she was all a blur.

At one point she paused and asked if I wanted to be doing more of the painting and I said no way, it was too much fun to watch her. This was after I did the first pass at the blue flowers, which is why they look a little funny.

She didn’t plan it all out, she went with themes I liked and with a few accent colors that would coordinate with our room. She worked in layers, talking with me now and then, to see where to go next.

While she was painting, she told me a story.

She had wanted to be an art major in college, but her Dad had said ‘no’. He didn’t want to pay for a college degree and then have Jay unable to find a job. So, Jay was a Communications major (with an Art minor) and she got a job in business after college.

Oh, no! Her dreams ended so early!

But wait, her story wasn’t over.

Now, Jay has a serious career with a successful company. She is happy to have the options and stability that comes with that. She does business for her day job and painting for fun. Sometimes she even thinks her Dad might have been right.

So, maybe The Onion was right in its recent article titled, “Find The Thing You’re Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights and Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life.” Can that be true? Are you asking me? The one who writes on nights and weekends?

I don’t have any answers here. All I know is that I just got the best deal on paintings that has ever happened. I have shopped for art before and it isn’t that much fun. What are the chances of finding the right size piece with some of the right colors and a style that feels good? With Jay, I picked the canvases, the colors and the themes. Then she made amazing, custom paintings in just two hours. Everyone that comes to my house now needs to go to the second floor loft first, because the paintings are so fun to show people.

I told Jay that she should do this for money and she said sure. If you might be interested in creating custom paintings with Jay, send me a note at carol@growingupaustin.com and I’ll get y’all in touch.

One more note before I go – there is a new venue in town,  The North Door, that is home to a unique mix of musicians and performers. They are having a series of kid-friendly happy hours in April with live music from musician+Mom, Elizabeth McQueen. Details – April 15, 22 and 29, 6:00-7:30, 501 North IH 35, cover $5. If you are looking for something new to try, check it out!

Getting to Know You

(Jay, The North Door and Elizabeth didn’t pay for a mention, I just felt like talking about them, that is all!)

Is It Lying When You Don’t Tell the Truth?

I’m not sure what just happened except that I’m pretty sure it makes me a big fat liar.

I want to say for the record that I did not speak an untruth and I will stand by all of my statements.

But my silence was a lie.

I had been looking forward to the Listen To Your Mother show for months. Some of Austin’s best writers would be reading pieces about being a Mom. I love Austin and writers and Moms and I would have paid $100 and/or driven to Dallas to see the show. I might have even moved to Dallas. I really wanted to see the show.

So, when I arrived at 3:00 and saw some writer friends talking outside the auditorium, I joined them and I was happy to be there.

Then I got a funny sense that something wasn’t right.

Then I noticed that people were coming out of the auditorium, instead of going in.

Then someone said, “Kristin Armstrong had the funniest line, about the thunder roll of the teenage eyeballs.”

Oh, no.

I missed the show.

I don’t understand what I did next. All I can say is, do you know how you have all sorts of little people inside your head? The strong, confident, beautiful grown up and the confused teenager and the scared little kid, and each one of them can come out at different times?

I have a little girl inside my head.

She is in the 5th grade.

She is terrified of people.

She has recently became aware of all that she isn’t.

She took over the situation.

Because, I had been talking for so long and I hadn’t mentioned that I missed the show and it would be strange to bring it up now.

But, someone could ask me, “Which reading was your favorite?” and what would I say?

OK, wait a minute. I didn’t wet my pants or show up naked. I didn’t steal something or heckle the MC. I remembered the time of the show wrong. So what?

But the little girl in me was too embarrassed. I didn’t say anything. I was lucky, no one asked me a question about the show. When someone would comment on a reading I stayed quiet.

In the car on the way home, I was even more embarrassed for not saying something. I’m not in the 5th grade anymore, right?

I had some time away from the kids, since I was supposed to be at a show and all, so I stopped at a coffee shop to think about it.

My first clue was that I had a history with Listen To Your Mother. I had auditioned for the show. Here are a few things that went wrong with my audition:

  • I did a performance instead of a reading. I got Listen To Your Mother confused with The Maternal Instincts Project, since I got auditions for each at about the same time. Well, now I know that Listen To Your Mother is readings of writing pieces, not a theater-style performance.
  • I’m not a good performer.
  • I spent so much time learning the performance that my writing was sloppy, which was unfortunate, since Listen To Your Mother is all about the writing.

So, I was feeling a little dorky already.

My second clue was that just about all the writers I admire were there, including my biggest blog crushes, and it isn’t fun to look like a dork in front of people you admire.

But none of that explains it really. so I thought some more, until I discovered the third and most important clue.

I want to be a writer.

I want to be able to put ideas and feelings into words in a way that touches someone else.

That space, where it is so important to me, not in a practical way, but in a deep-heart-and-soul kind of way, that is a vulnerable space.

Sometimes it makes me feel like I’m back in the 5th grade.

Since I like to have the grown up inside my head be in charge more of the time, I have to come clean. I didn’t see the show.

I’m going to feel like a grown up writer one day, one that is more confident than she is vulnerable. That is enough for now, to know that I’ll get there one day.

And that is the truth.

My Book Would Be Much Shorter

Photo courtesy of john.purplestateofmind.com

Blue Eyes and I went to see Elizabeth Gilbert last night, as part of our Paramount mini-season pass. This is an indulgence, because the mini-season pass might seem like it costs about $350 a year for two, but really, if you get a babysitter and eat sushi before the show, then it is much, much more. But we decided to do it anyway. Because four times a year, there is a special date on the calendar that we really look forward to, and we won’t get so caught up in the day-to-day, that we forget to take this time just for us.

I like Elizabeth Gilbert because I want to be her… Read More »