It started out with a scribble. As she dragged a blue crayon across a crumpled sheet of white paper. The messy scrawl was an abstract piece. But like all art, it was a mark from the artist — I am here.
When she grew a little older, took the pencil and stencilled her hand. From thumb to little finger. As every generation before her, from Palaeolithic onwards had done. Mapped the world from the lines of her hand though she did not fully understand, she was making her way.
At school, she had a pencil case jammed full of gel pens and coloured markers. When the teachers weren’t looking, she was doodling expressions of their characters. With a back turned, she would send the paper shooting across the classroom as a paper aeroplane for someone to laugh at. It was annotating in the margins of the lines she had been told to stay inside which taught her that what was important was not always what was set out for her.
As she grew older, she received a canvas and a set of paints from her parents. She would come home from school and release the inner turmoil of adolescence until there were paint splatters among her freckles but a smile on her face. What she would learn is that art happened in the rush somewhere between the fingertips and the mind and with these tools she could illustrate what she was on the inside.
Through high school she spent hours tapping at art apps on a tablet. With a small digital pencil she could remain spotless. Filing away portfolios and galleries of pieces until she ran out of battery. These would sometimes go online or remain inside the glass for her to work at. What she gathered was that all art was not created the same way, but all of it was equal.
As she sat at her desk photoshopping a sketch for the deadline she was haunted by words from sceptics who seemed to surround her about what to do after. Her childish hobby was messy cacography. Anyone could be an artist after all. A five-year-old could hypothetically do better. She rested her head in haste. From putting down the pen she realised the worst critic existed from within.
A few years later she had signed the dotted line for her business in graphic designs for signs. Where she went, she saw images she had crafted appearing as advertising in stores. Perhaps it was not playing to the galleries, regardless she felt a sense of contentment. Art could be usual and everyday but art was everywhere. That was no small feat either.
One night she lay in bed and took out a scrap page. Leant across the sheets and stole a biro pen from the beside of her sleeping partner. There she titled a new work. ‘Baby Names.’ Took a moment, listing alphabetical hypothetical possibilities. This was perhaps not a magnum opus but what she realised is that she was creating with every fibre of her being. This was no first draft.
It started out with a scribble. When her daughter was old enough to hold grip of a red crayon she dragged it along the page between her chubby little fingers. She was too young and what came out was a scrawled line. But no matter, there would be other drawings.
She would teach her daughter how to paint the world with every colour. To find a way back to herself which started with the hands like roots of a tree growing from the earth, question the authority in the face of critique, express herself broadly, work hard from the failure. To make something greater.
The mother would sketch with every tool she had to educate her daughter.
Fiona Murphy McCormack is a 22 year old writer from Northern Ireland. Recently graduated Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Queen’s University Belfast, with an Undergraduate Degree in English with Creative Writing. Her short stories have previously been published in Electric Reads Young Writer’s Anthology, Germ Magazine, Fearless Femme and The Elephant Ladder.