It Ain’t Me, Babe

If you’re old like me, you’ll remember this Bob Dylan classic.

“It Ain’t Me, Babe” is said to be one of the greatest poems ever set to music, and as a huge fan of Dylan, I count it among my favorites. So, it’s not surprising that one day recently when I shook my head and said to myself, “Nope, it ain’t me…” that the familiar song from the 60’s came singing through my mind.

I wasn’t thinking about personal relationships. I was thinking about art, of course, which is, in a way, a sort of personal relationship, isn’t it? So, maybe I was thinking along those lines. More specifically, I was thinking about how I connect with some things in art, while others… well, others just aren’t me.

Maybe you can guess that these thoughts came about as I looked at my daughter’s whimsical collage art, and then considered my own frustrations at cutting and pasting. I watched her quick time-lapse video and marveled at how long it took her to make the iguana she sent for my Mother’s Day gift.

Believe me, this little critter is even more impressive up close than when viewed in a photo. She uses almost a mosaic-like technique of cutting tiny pieces of paper and putting them all together. I’m glad she enjoys it. She has the talent, and it’s no surprise to me that she’s already getting orders for various collage-creatures like this.

That’s her. It ain’t me. Cue Bob Dylan singing in the background.

When I decided to learn to draw, I didn’t understand what art was really all about. I know now that it’s not just about making marks with a pencil or a stick of charcoal, but also exploring many different means of creative visual expression. As I learned more and read more, I wanted to try more. Fortunately I have a loving husband who doesn’t get upset at finding packages from Amazon on the doorstep nearly every day. Any time I see some art supply  that looks interesting, I’m off and running. A quick search, a few clicks, and whatever it is that’s piqued my curiosity is on its way to me.

But sometimes, despite my initial interest and even enthusiasm, I soon find that I don’t really care for a particular medium. It only took me a few painting attempts, for instance, for me to know that acrylics and I would never really get along, I still have a nice collection of acrylics, and you’ll remember that I did spend time learning to do acrylic pourings. Even there, however, I have to say that I’m just not an acrylic artist. Maybe for an occasional abstract, and from time to time I play with acrylics in mixed-media projects, but as far as painting with them? Nope. I’ll leave that to others. When it comes to acrylic painting, it just ain’t me.

The same goes with those alcohol inks I was so excited about. I do love some of the random, expressive abstracts I made with them, and I had fun making coasters with glazed tile. That’s still grandson Carsen’s favorite thing to do in Grandma’s art studio. The trouble was I never got beyond those random abstracts. I couldn’t draw or paint with them. I tried. It didn’t take me long to realize that nope, babe, this ain’t me.

And then there are the new acrylic inks I got as part of a subscription box. I tried them. Yeah, it was fun to play around with them, but just as with acrylics themselves, I knew quite soon that this wasn’t me, either.

Do you remember pan pastels? They were quite popular a few years back, and, of course, I had to have a set as soon as I heard about them. Same story. Fun at first, but just not something I wanted to pursue, and the same is true with soft pastels. I love seeing pastel art, and I’m acquainted with several very talented soft pastel artists. I’ve even been to workshops, and as much as I’d love to be a pastel artist, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just not meant to be. Soft pastel is definitely not me.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that things will change. At one time, I wanted nothing to do with any sort of ink drawing. Now I enjoy it — at least as long as dip-pens aren’t involved. And for a time, I hated the very thought of trying to do watercolor. I actually got irate whenever Amazon suggested a watercolor book as a “you might like this” reading recommendation. I repeatedly clicked “Not Interested” — only to do an about-face a few years later. I love playing with watercolor now. Who would have ever thought that would happen?

And what of my oil pastels? I tried them back in 2016, couldn’t figure out what to do with them, and put them away, never again to see the light of day, I thought. Now — laugh along with me, please — I have oil pastels by Daler-Rowney, Sakura, Sennelier, Mungyo, and Paul Rubens, and I’m loving every minute I spend with them.

I guess it’s impossible to say with certainty what we will like or dislike when it comes to creating art. Doing art, it seems, is almost as subjective as viewing art. Except for collage. There, I can tell you here and now with absolute 100-percent certainty, that I will never be a collage artist. I think again about my daughter happily sitting at her art table for hours and hours, cutting tiny scraps of paper, choosing just the right colors, placing them all together in just the right way, and I think Egads! That would make me crazy. 

To each his or her own, as they say. I say that it’s good for us to know who we are as artists, and it’s good, too, to know who we aren’t. I’m learning to be a bit more restrained, and when I see a demonstration or tutorial with alcohol inks or acrylic markers, I can shake my head and move on. It ain’t me you’re looking for.





    1. Yes, he’s done a lot since the 60’s. He’s also an artist. Halcyon Galleries is showing his work. I’m planning to do a blog post to show some of his drawings and acrylic paintings. He’s very good.

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