The Fruit Years

If you were to walk through my house you'd notice a lot of art. A lot of it is mine. You'd probably notice that there's a wide variety of styles and subject matter. These represent seasons— certain times in my life when I was focused on one kind of art or another. Only a few paintings are still lifes of fruit. These are significant. These signify The Fruit Years. They were unhappy years, artistically speaking. There are a bunch of great fruit paintings out there, by the way. I'm not down on fruit or other still life paintings. I've always really liked them. Some I love. But The Fruit Years weren't good for me.

Professor Shmoo used to stand behind me as I painted (I'd never ever painted before) and he would say, "I am not impressed," and, "This is dishonest artwork."

When I went to college, I believed i was an artist. I've always thought I was. Drawing was my comfort zone. It was my safe place. I was not insecure about my art—about myself, yes—about my art, no. Not until I met this one teacher. I'm going to call him Professor Shmoo, because he deserves it. Professor Shmoo was not nice. Professor Shmoo was not encouraging. Professor Shmoo used to stand behind me as I painted (I'd never ever painted before) and he would say, "I am not impressed," and, "This is dishonest artwork." He suggested I paint with my feet because he said I was not good at realism so I should focus on abstract (which unfortunately I have no eye for). Bad. Now, add to Professor Shmoo a second professor— Professor Shlimp, because he also deserves it. Professor Shlimp had a talk with me. It went like this: "Amy, there are a lot of people who love music. They LOVE music. But that doesn't make them musicians. Do you understand what I'm trying to say?" Now, before you get really mad at Shmoo and Shlimp keep in mind it was a long time ago and these were just people, and people make mistakes. People don't always do it right. Somebody might be blogging about me right now calling me Professor Shmurt or worse, because maybe i deserve it. I'm not mad at these guys anymore, and I think one of them wasn't a bad guy even back then. He just wasn't an encouraging teacher. At all.

Once I thought of a pear with some little fairy lights around it. That was the haze beginning to lift.

When I got out of these two classes, that occurred in the same year, in the same semester, my creativity was zapped. Normally I had so many ideas. It was a question of which picture to work on next. But after Shmoo and Shlimp, I would just sit there and stare off into space and try to think… of anything. Anything at all. And after a long time I thought of… apples. A pear. Some strawberries (that was a better day). Once I thought of a pear with some little fairy lights around it. That was the haze beginning to lift. The Fruit Years went on for about three years. Maybe five. Numbers aren't my thing. Shmoo and Shlimp were like creative-vortex wonder twins with the power to de-activate creative thought.

Be careful what you say. Be careful what you believe.

Words are powerful. If I hadn't believed them they wouldn't have been, but it's hard not to believe words like that. Be careful what you say. Be careful what you believe. Just think, FRUIT YEARS when someone says negative things to you. You don't want to only be able to think of apples and pears for the next five years, do you? No! Me neither.

- Amy