Now that Halloween has come and gone I can’t help but reflect on how inventive and imaginative people are out there in the Blogosphere. Such talent and creativity! It makes me think back to the time I decided to become an artist.
I grew up seeing red.
When I was a kid my parents bought a painting of a bull fight. During my formative years it hung in our living room. The picture was hardly unique; over the years I’ve seen hundreds of similar pictures, most worse than this one, but I grew up staring at that matador swirling his red cape in front of a charging bull.
Few homes on our street had original artwork, and this was the first real painting I’d seen. Even as a kid I didn’t think much of it; the matador didn’t look like a living breathing person, and the bull wasn’t quite right. But there was a single stroke of magic in the picture.
While the artist was painting the red cape, he wiped his loaded brush on the side of the black bull. A simple stroke of paint, but the effect was miraculous. From the far side of our living room that stroke of red paint looked like hot shiny bull sweat picking up the red reflection of the cape. Mesmerized, I would climb up on the couch beneath the painting and press my nose to the picture—and see only red and black paint.
I wanted to pinpoint the moment my eye worked this miracle, the moment that single stroke of red paint transformed into hot, wet bull sweat. I’d jump off the couch and take a step back. No transformation. Another step—nothing. Back a little more and…there it was—the magic. For a while I did this daily until it scared the bejeezus out of my mother.
“What do you think you’re doing?” she asked one day when I was perched on the back of the couch with my nose pressed to the canvas.
I didn’t feel capable of explaining that I was trying to pinpoint an optical phenomenon, so I said, “I’ve decided to be a painter when I grow up.”
She looked relieved. “Thank God! You had me worried for a minute.”
“I did? Why?”
“I was worried you were going to tell me you wanted to be a matador!”
What did you want to be when you grew up?