"No Time Like the Present" & "No Such Word as Can't" • by Sally La Com Fasano
My sister died quickly and unexpectedly this summer. We were not raised together, nor did we even meet until the early ‘80s. Our paths have crossed briefly a few times since then. Her daughter found me on Facebook in June and I drove up to see my sister on July 5th. She passed away six weeks later. I am reminded how important these two statements really are:
“No time like the present.”
“No such word as can’t.”
A Bad First Impression
I spent the first 23 years of my life honing the left side of my brain. As a child I did not play with coloring books, let alone a blank piece of paper, pencils, and crayons. My mantra was, “Give me rules; give me structure; give me math. Avoid creatively at all costs!”
The first time “Art” was forced into my life was 1968. I had one more semester left to graduate from college and graduating wouldn’t happen if I didn’t take a basic art course, something I had successfully avoided for 3½ years. That final semester of college I toiled at carving wood, working with silver and lost wax casting. I created a blowfish with toothpicks and papier mâché and made a mural out of tissue paper spit balls. It was the most stressful and unfulfilling class I had taken in four years of college.
A Connection with my Kids
Everybody likes to see their accomplishments properly reported and recorded. Art did successfully enter my life in the form of Creative Memories® and pretty scrapbook paper in 1991. I was going through a divorce and my 7th grade daughter and 9th grade son were distancing themselves from me. I needed to figure out how to bridge that gap. Fortunately, both children were heavily invested in, and excelled at, their perspective sports. This was before digital cameras and I had tons of photos of them and had the giant bills for printing theses pictures to prove it! I had my kid’s attention and my daughter began this new world of scrapbooking with me. For six years we chronicled her social life and activities as she flew through junior and senior high school, and we created scrapbooks devoted to her gymnastic, soccer and volleyball successes.
As a sophomore, my humble son was the star running back on the varsity football team and the captain of the team his junior and senior year. He graduated as an All-American and went on to play for West Point Military Academy’s football team. The Black Knights had an incredibly successful year and went to the Independence Bowl in 1997. All this was recorded in fat scrapbooks for each year at West Point. I had found a common ground with my children and it had taken me to the right side of my brain. I was still challenged by picking out the papers to go with the photos I’d taken, but at least I didn’t have to draw!
Failure Wasn’t a Concern
With my kids almost grown up and starting lives of their own, I remarried and moved to San Diego, a place where I didn’t know a soul. I found myself pursuing genealogy and hoping to discover more about my biological family. With newly learned computer skills and the birth of the Internet, I soon realized I didn’t need friends. I was once again dealing with facts and there was only a smidgeon of creativity required. Two years later I emerged from my computer room with a 500-page book with over 500 footnotes and more than 1000 photos of my biological family.
After I finished this enormous, mostly left-brained task, I began looking for more of the types of stores where I might find scrapbook papers and related materials to perhaps do some scrapbooking again. It was during a drive from Glendale back down to San Diego that I discovered a store in Carlsbad that not only had the papers I loved, but also was filled with rubber stamps and other artistic materials.
I was attracted to a “Geneology Doll” class and signed up to learn how to make it. It would be the perfect way to make a scrapbook for my daughter with the genealogy information I had just spent two years discovering. Little did I know this first class would lead me to discovering more scrapbook and stamp stores, as well as the people involved with this newly emerging art form of mixed-media art. I had no idea it would have such a major impact on my life, and would begin to cultivate my creative soul. I started taking classes at local Scrapbook and Rubber Stamp stores and opened up my home to the people I met through those classes. I went to theses stores with my heart and mind open and ready to learn and explore. I was old enough that failure wasn’t a concern. I was doing this to please myself and it felt right.
The first fifty years of my life, I lived in the city of my birth, Glendale, California. I raised my two children there and I was blessed with four of the most amazing life-long friends. None of them are involved with the art I now fill my life with, but that makes them no less precious to me. All my friends in San Diego, ALL OF THEM, have come from experiencing art in the classes I took.
Finding Peace & Quiet
In June of 2009 a few months before my 65th birthday, I stumbled upon the YouTube video of a person who has become my personal Pied Piper and muse, as well as a close friend. As I watched her video that day, I felt like she was talking only to me and I needed to listen — “No time like the present,” and “No such word as can’t!” Suzi Blu and her Ning Network entered my life. I began taking her online drawing classes.
Slow has never been a word used to describe the whirlwind created wherever I am. More than one person has said they got tired just watching me. I am on the move from the moment I get up in the morning until I go to bed at night. Well, not only did I find peace and quiet with Suzi Blu, I also learned to draw and explore color.
My husband and children have seen the transformation in me. I went from not being able to draw a distinguishable stick figure to drawing beautiful “Petite Dolls” and stylized life-like young girls’ faces. They have finally observed me sitting peacefully on the couch in the evenings with my sketchpad in front of me and a pencil in my hand. I have gotten many compliments since I first began drawing, and my family members are my biggest fans. Sketching offers me a calm way to slow down and express things that are going on in my life. The things I might otherwise keep inside me, perhaps affecting my health.
Changed my Life
As I said earlier, my younger sister passed away this August. She went from looking fine on July 5, 2010 to passing away of pancreatic cancer August 18th. Her oldest daughter expressed the thought that all the stress in her life and no apparent way to relieve that stress or express it could have played a part in her mom’s untimely death. I know that “MY girls,” my journaling, and my painting have changed my life for the better. I now have a very positive and productive way to express myself through my art. Along the way I have meet so many wonderful friends and teachers who became my friends who I would never have known were it not for ART.
Getting Off the Sidelines
I continue to combine my love of genealogy, art, fabric, paper, and paint. My latest creation was done in a class taught by KC Willis taught at the Urban Barn in Escondido, CA. A recent entry to my blog (sillysalcreates.blogspot.com) shows KC Willis’ class, which combines my love for all things family and art. On my blog you will see my wide range of interests. I purposely post my failures along with my successes.
I hope that this will encourage anyone who is sitting on the sidelines thinking they are too old or can’t draw to realize that until you try you will never know what horizons will unfold before you and the pleasure that you can realize from choosing to try something new.
To learn more about Sally La Com Fasano, visit sillysalcreates.blogspot.com.