CHATTING WITH NANCY

DRAWING ON REAL LIFE
with NANCY L. STEINMEYER

COPYRIGHT 1997 N.L. STEINMEYER

For many years I've been doing an informal survey on spelling deficiency in artists. It appears to be a common affliction. I have also discovered people believe any artist can DO whatever that person needs to have done. These skills may include fine art, commercial art, interior design or workshop demonstrations for 2nd graders. "You’re an artist aren't you?"

About 20 years ago my older brother called to announce he was leaving his current position to start his own veterinarian practice. He asked if I would design his logo and business cards, then paint a sign for the new office. The last time I said "NO" to my brother he held me on the ground and twisted my arm behind my back. (Strange Isn't it, now I do that to myself every morning and call it exercising.)

I had had six weeks of lettering and sign painting seven years earlier in high school. Drawing the logo was fast and simple. I spent four hours designing, measuring, spacing then hand lettering a sample business card. It read John E. Steinmeyer, Vegetarian.

After the correction I began to paint the sign in my parents' garage. I counted the letters, divided in half, found the center of the board and began working from the middle backwards. After a while my father came in and quietly peered over my shoulder. Soon he walked back to the door, opened it and spoke, "Honey, you have spelled `Steinmeyer' wrong." Then bolted for the house. (My artistic temper is legendary.)

I quickly called after him," I know. I did it on purpose." (My stubbornness is also legendary.)

A few years later I sent my brother's 10 year old daughter, Jenny, a set of calligraphy pens. She had expressed an interest in art. She penned a beautiful note in return: "Thank you Aunt Nan for the pornography pens." According to my informal survey she has the basic elements of a true artist.

 

When I lived in Chicago while taking public transportation I often sketched the other commuters. Without fail (at least once a month) someone would peer over my shoulder to watch me do a three-minute portrait. After its completion, he would ask, " Did you do that free-hand?"

*

One afternoon I met a young woman in the hallway. The bag I carried was loaded with paint and canvas. She noticed and asked if I was an artist. Proudly I admitted to my vocation. She quickly responded, "So am I!"

Immediately I launched into a long-winded dissertation over problems with my new work. After five minutes I began to bore myself. I stopped and said, "Enough about me. What kind of work do you do?"

She smiled, explaining, "Oh, I don't actually do any art." I thought to myself, well, in that case, I'm a brain surgeon.

 
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Copyright 2003 Nancy L. Steinmeyer. All rights reserved.
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Last revised: June 24, 2004.

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