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Messing up Paper

I want to take a moment to talk about art. I want to start out with the most important piece of advice I wish I had followed.

Do not under ANY circumstances let someone’s opinion of the things you do dictate what you do in life.

Now I am going to explain what I mean by this. My entire childhood I loved to draw and paint. I was so creative with my art and I would let loose my imagination on paper. My grandmother both used to encourage this, my mother encouraged this.

Then I entered the 2nd grade. I lived in Neenah, Wisconsin and my 2nd-grade teacher was more than likely the literal devil. She bullied me. She began to bully the artistic expression out of me. One of our projects was to draw the house we lived in. I made a wonderful 2nd-grade version of my house but I ran into a problem, my house was both a blue and a gray in color and I had only a blue and gray crayon. Nothing in that shade in between. So I made do with what I had and I colored it with both crayons. It was an amazing fix to a problem. My teacher really did not like my solution and she berated me in my class. “Damien is this REALLY how your house looks?” and “You need to talk around the room right now and see what everyone else was doing”.

To say I despised that teacher is an understatement. She bullied me on many occasions.

Let us fast forward to high-school. I was living in Lawrenceville, Georgia and I was going to central Gwinnett high school. I was taking art classes outside of school and so I was taking an advanced art class. It was a self-study. We chose our own projects and executed them. I was building a wonderful portfolio of my own works and I was elated.

One month into the class a few things happened. One was that my art teacher left and moved away and another teacher came in. The second thing to happen was that my horrible health took it’s toll and I had to leave school and be home-schooled. This was a different type, I was still enrolled in my high-school. I even had the same teachers.

My self-study works were involving paint on acetate pages. This was before mainstream internet and I was trying to teach myself the tools for animation. I really enjoyed the medium.

When I turned in my work for grading I got notes back telling me that I got a failing grade on each piece because it was “Not art”. One of them had been sent to a Lawrenceville, Georgia art competition and won a ribbon, but to her it was not appropriate as art. Out of spite I turned in one more piece of work on an acetate cell and dropped out of not only the class, but high-school entirely. I don’t know nor cared what the final grade on that last piece was. I should have kept it as she did not deserve to see it.

The great tragedy of all of this was, I listened to her. I let what she said define me for 28 years. Next week I turn 45 years old and I have not picked up so much as a pencil to draw in all of that time.

I fell into the embrace of my depression and took her words and past teachers as truth.

The past several years I have been getting help and seeing the lies of my past. From my education and acceptance into the Golden Key International Honors Society and medical help for my mental state, I am battling these demons. This morning as I watched Babs and Marisha draw on #EverythingIsContent on Critical Role, I picked up a pencil and sketched along with them.

Is it shit? You bet this is shit…

But I stood up, I grabbed a piece of printer paper and one of my kid’s pencils. Without eraser, with those lost decades of expression… and I began to draw.

Never let anyone make you believe that you are less than what you dream you could be. What might this art have looked like if I had ignored them and focused on what I love? I am going to keep this up. Get me some more paper, pencils, and an eraser. Draw for me and ignore everyone else. It is my expression.

I found healing in this penciled abomination below. I am going to finish this hot mess up and keep drawing.

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