I remember very clearly the first time life didn’t match my expectations: I was around eleven years old and I had been waiting, in vain, for an owl to appear at my window with an invitation to study at Hogwarts fastened at its paw. Of course, that never happened.
The disappointment was real and I have secretly cried about it.
Since then, reality painfully often disregarded my romantic dreams and over and over again I was forced to see that what I wanted life to be like existed only in the fictional world I knew from reading novels and watching movies.
I wanted a friendship like the one between Anne and Diana in Anne of Green Gables, a romance like the one between Margaret and mr. Thornton in North and South. I wished I could have an education like the boys of The Dead Poet’s Society, an eating house like Café Babylon in Marsha Mehran’s homonymous book, a house and garden in a ‘Jean de Florette like’ scenery…
Even though none of these maybe childish dreams have come true, life has surprised me with better gifts.
While studying at the art academy I met the one person in the world who really understands me. We married and quite naturally a new dream I had never really considered before became one of my deepest wishes: that of having a family together.
To share or not to share
Now that I’m pregnant and getting nearer to my due date, my expectations of life are different from the ones I once had. I still have ambitious dreams which are unlikely to come true any time soon, but the most important thing is that I’m not alone in wishing them any more.
These shared dreams are better than the ones I had alone. In fact, I now see that sharing has been a recurring theme in all the books and movies I ever found inspiring. Isn’t the friendship between Anne and Diana about sharing feelings and thoughts? Isn’t The Dead Poet’s Society about sharing the passion for literature or Café Babylon about sharing the exotic flavours of the Persian kitchen with people who are unknown to them?
Even though I always considered myself a bit of a lone wolf, there’s almost nothing I enjoy doing if there’s no-one else involved but myself.
Whether it is cooking to treat my husband or guests, teaching to make aspiring artists benefit from my drawing and painting experience, knitting something beautiful as a gift for a loved one, creating a colourful garden to sit in with family and friends or writing down my thoughts on this blog hoping people will identify with them, it is always about sharing what I love with others.
There is one thing, however, I can enjoy ONLY privately…
Painting is such a sensitive business, I wouldn’t dream of letting anyone near me during the process, except of course when I’m demonstrating for my students.
Though I love getting behind my easel, I don’t always find it much fun, however contradictory that may sound. The act of painting can both be relaxing and extremely nerve-racking, up to the point I consider never touching a brush again.
There are days on which the oil paints seems to flow in the right places without me having to do any effort. Other times every brushstroke I place seems to be the wrong one and I feel I lost my talent and won’t find it back.
Though the first situation is energizing, the second is quite exhausting, which is why I would never think of painting every single day. After an artistic failure I really need some time to get over it by doing something that requires little mental exertion, like gardening or baking a fool proof cake.
The fact that I would never consider making a painting a day, doesn’t mean I’m less passionate about art than those diehards who pick up their brushes whenever they have the chance.
Making an artwork is always a huge challenge and that’s what makes it so satisfying. Not even baking the most delicious cake in the world would make me feel as accomplished as I feel after a good painting session. and that thought keeps me going, even after making several lousy paintings and feeling like a complete loser.
Accepting the need to find a balance between sharing moments with others and taking some time for my personal painting struggles, a balance between all the different creative activities I like to do, in order to flourish in every one of them, has helped me shape a dream for the future. A dream in which both my husband and I are able to do what we love most and are good at.
It may take us ten or even more years until we are ready to realize this project of ours, but we are confident one day we’ll have the means to make our dream come true.
I can imagine us owning a piece of land on Sardinia, the beautiful island from my childhood, where we would live between cascades of flowers and rows of fruit trees, with our own house near the guests accommodations in a romantic hill-side scenery. How great would it be to show people from all over the world Sardinia’s rough landscape and the tools to capture its character in oils, watercolour, pencil or ink… To offer art holidays from our own home, to teach, to be mostly in the great outdoors and share our love for nature and food with everyone who’s willing to stay with us. And finally, to live in one of the most inspirational places I know, which offers enough exciting painting subjects for the rest of our lives.
Of course, there will be a lot of bureaucratic hassle and financial difficulties to deal with, but won’t it be worth it in the end?
Here are two watercolours I made from imagination, to adorn the walls of the nursery, hoping they will give our child only beautiful dreams and not necessarily realistic ones.