Art is More than Perfectionism

A lot of crafting stores have calendars lined up with numerous in-store and online classes where you can basically benefit from anything as complex as a professional cake decorating class to something as simple as having kids make slime. I usually stay away from the more complex ones, not because they seem uninteresting, but because the world isn't cheap and broke college kids have priorities — I can decorate my cakes with Ziploc baggies till then.

The other day though, they were offering a weekend tie-dye session where you buy the material to paint and they provide all the necessary supplies. I decided it would be a good idea to check it out, mostly for the benefit of my little brother.

Now, according to my brother's teacher, my brother lacks patience when it comes to arts and crafts. She was very diplomatic and professional in her terminology but my brother sums it up pretty well, "I can't do art. I hate it." We've all noticed the obvious confidence problem this has registered in his third-grader brain, and have decided that it's time for serious action. There's a time to bleed your eyes over your Xbox and a time to sit your rear end down and patiently paint a picture.

When I suggested the event to my brother, he adamantly refused (unsurprising, really), reiterating that it would be boring and he would much rather play on his iPad. I could have been more merciful, I guess, but Saturday morning, I had dragged his wailing figure to my car and forcibly drove him over to our nearest Michael's. If anyone else had witnessed the scene, I feel like they might have mistaken it as a case of child abuse, at least the way my brother was making it out to be. But we made it, did our tye-dye and in the end, guess what the boy wonder says: "That was fun." You don't say, kiddo.

When I was a kid, I sucked at art. My people are still stick figures and I'm still drawing the same house I learned to draw in second grade — square home, triangle roof and circle windows. But every summer, I remember how my mother would force feed art into my soul, sitting with me as we filled sand art bottles and made stained glass suncatchers to hang outside. With her, art wasn't just something I did at school, where I could never live up to everything the other students could do, and everything the teacher got frustrated at me for not being able to do. I could have fun being messy and wild and know that even if I did nothing but scribble with the set of acrylic paints, my mom would tell me it was awesome and I would love doing it.

I didn't drag my brother to do tie-dye because his art skills are weak or to improve his sense of artistry; I did it because I want him to feel that art can be freeing and that there is no way to suck at art — not really. Some people might be better artists but that shouldn't mean you lose your fun or sleep over them because, in the end, it's about expressing yourself. And while that line is cliché as anything, I'm going to stick to it because it's the truth. We all need some color in our lives, and what art does for a person goes way beyond making perfect eyes and complicated sketches. Like my brother learned, we need that special bit of fun.

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