When I was a little kid, back before airport security intensified, my babysitter used to bring me to Logan airport in Boston, just to hang out. There they had a children’s play area, complete with a climbable airplane, and a Rube Goldberg machine. I loved watching the pool balls roll around this musical sculpture. I never knew which path they would take, and which of the percussive instruments they would hit. The abstract arrangement of bells, chimes, and drums was soothing to my young ears.
I’ve been doing a lot of traveling these past few months, mostly by air, and that calm feeling is gone. Despite the really impressive improvements of airports like Atlanta’s and San Francisco’s, that 2-hour wait in the terminal is never an enjoyable one for me. My childhood excitement of air travel is replaced with the frustration of incomprehensibly long security lines at New York’s JFK.
As much as I like my iPad, I don’t think they make good waiters, nor do they make lovely table decorations. Unfortunately, most airport restaurants now feature tablets on every table. So instead of eating something that will inevitably make my stomach inflate against the airplane safety belt, I’ve found a new airport pastime: I didn’t realize I’d come up with this solution until I tried organizing my digital drawings. It turns out I have an interest in drawing airplanes and airports!
I try to sit quietly and find myself. I imagine I am somewhere inside, buried beneath years of social survival. I am like a firefly nestled in the pocket of the patchwork dress of my life, the pieces sewed together to create planes and correct mistakes, no grand design guiding it.
There is something true about me. Whether I was born with this truth, or if it was forged over time I don’t know. I am trying to return to this truth, because it is awkward living stretched beyond it. I have learned to be loud in a loud world: I am not loud. I have learned to be aggressive: I find no joy in controlling another person. I push the walls of what is true to me. But flexibility without strength causes long-term damage. Instead of stretching beyond, I want to breath into what is essential.
Yesterday was meant to meant to be warm. My sister was visiting and we had big plans: the Cloisters, The Botanical Gardens. Drinks on a patio. Long walks through the city. We did some of this. But by the end of her stay, we still craved a bit more of the fresh spring air that collects in pools above blooming tulip and daffodil beds. We wanted to walk under the blossoms of lilacs and magnolias one more time together, before she flew of to the still-thawing Midwest.
We took the train uptown and got off into a wind of pin-prick raindrops. My sister, optimistic, had worn a sweater and overalls with the sleeves and legs rolled up, and no jacket. She rolled her sleeve down. She rolled down her pants legs. It was too cold. We were back with the winter weather, but now with cherry blossoms falling instead of snow. We had to go back inside, and watch the weather tangle in the spire of the Princess Building from behind a window.
I’m slow to pick up new technology. While I recognize the many conveniences that it brings to our lives, I also worry that some joy is lost. I’m even considering taking a Mallet to my Smart phone: It is starting to feel poisonous to my life.
Recently I was introduced to some technology that I feel very excited about. I went to an exhibit of David Hockney’s, and was sucked in by his potent colors. At the end of the exhibit, a wall of screens showed his work on the iPad: the painter’s medium is now digital. I was fascinated to see how his new paintings and his work on the iPad seemed to influence one another. His pigments are even more brilliant and saturated than before.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the possibilities that digital painting presents. And so, I am a joyful new adapter of a technological innovation! And feeling pretty pleased with myself.
Drawing with the iPad pen feels strangely frictionless. I still have bad control over the
quality of my line or the color. But I love that I can use many effects on one “canvas”. I’m thrilled about the possibility of being able to draw and paint on the go. And for the opportunity to share! Soon I’ll put up a painting I did with real paint to compare. I don’t think that iPad art will replace the tactile pleasure of painting with oils for me, but there undeniable advantages to having such a vast toolbox in a 2 pound package.