Column: Creating my own world

‘Art is a passion I will never let go, but it is also something I don’t know how to set free. I will not give up.’

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Kenzi Gray

"Art is a passion I will never let go, but it is also something I don’t know how to set free. I will not give up."

“You’re so good!”

“You should go to VASE!”

“You’re so amazing at art, can you teach me?!”

As people around me would know, my mindset mainly focuses on my artistic skills. I’m always asked by people around me to draw a picture because they love what I can do. But honestly, my art abilities are thrown out of the window when I struggle with finding myself.

In fifth grade, I was always fond of drawing and painting. When I was stressed or felt unmotivated, I would turn to my pencils and sketch pads my grandma bought me every so often. I soon found out that slapping all types of different watercolors on a canvas was what helped me, the process of art allowed me to express my mental health.

“You’re so rude. All I asked was for you to draw me something!”

I’ve had these types of requests and backlash all throughout my life and it makes it a struggle to continue doing what I enjoy. Coming from someone who has been creating art from a young age, I will typically decline these requests unless it is a commision. But, here comes the issue.

I struggle with anxiety and severe mood swings which prevent me from putting any sort of effort into my art.

Finding the right time and energy to specifically draw for someone was always tough. I could never promise someone I would create a beautiful piece of art without my mood swings kicking in. It was almost impossible to muster up any motivation to even pick up my art supplies, so I would leave my art skills in the dark.

“Don’t let your hobby be just a hobby.”

Picking up a pencil and sketching out something I don’t finish on time is a consequence of my mental health and is something I have come to do quite often. In school, I was bullied for being the weird, quirky kid. I usually blocked them out, but as the years went on, I became more distant with school work and I hardly made any friends. I had only one friend that stuck by my side for the longest of time; her name was Erika Smallwood.

“Don’t let others get to you; let your creativity expand.”

As I would usually tell myself, “Just pick up the pencil, nobody is judging you.” Those words seemed to be my main focus when I stared at a blank page. Art is a passion I will never let go, but it is also something I don’t know how to set free. I will not give up.

From sixth grade through eighth, my first art teacher, Mr. Morgan, taught me unique ways on how to overcome obstacles and achieve my goals. He stuck by me, even though I doubted myself constantly. Mr. Morgan is by far one of my main supporters aside from my family.

“Nothing is hard unless you make it hard,” Mr. Morgan would always tell me.

I took that advice with me through the years and I let it sink in on every paper I decided to let my creativity splatter on. My family has always been supportive in my choices and has always told me I am amazing at art, but I need to finish what I start. When I do finish my art, I feel so pleased with myself, so happy, like I made an A on a math test, even though I’m not good at math!

The hardest part about growing up with a talent I’ve developed throughout the years is people only know me for one skill alone. If I saw a kid who was insanely good at playing the violin casually walking down the hallways, I would think, “Oh, hey it’s that kid who is really good at playing the violin.”

“Why do you give up?”

When I had episodes where my mind shut down and I couldn’t calm down right away, I never turned to art as my main support. It was always the waterfalls against my cheeks or letting my breathing become normal again so I could finally calm down.

I love art, but my health gets in the way of doing what I love. I have other hobbies I find myself turning toward. I don’t know why I can’t be like other artists out there who express their emotional states through art. If anything, I become more upset than I was before while staring at a blank piece of paper for hours.

“Where has your talent gone?”

This question has become so difficult to respond to, even when I was silent the entire time. I keep quiet until it becomes unbearable. My mind isn’t the safest place for me to embrace my talents. I would pick up a pencil and curse under my breath because I couldn’t create something in fear of getting backlash. Now, I do it because I don’t know how to find my inner creativity.

“Coward! You can’t even pick up the pencil!”

Art comes with dedication and time. No one can be an expert at drawing or painting. Those particular aspects take time to develop and practice through many long nights of perfection. At least, in my head, I want to do what will allow me to gain perfection. I want to achieve my overall limits of becoming an artist; starting off with focusing on my health. 

Who am I kidding? 

Art is anything but perfection. 

Art is everywhere.