Show and tell day at school was very exciting. I looked forward to it the way seals look forward to being rewarded after performing at the aquarium. When announced, I did clap, but I drew the line at calling sounds out into the air.

My anticipation of show and tell day (I’m not sure they even do this anymore. I think it’s now vision board day?) is that I knew the information I was presenting was going to be life changing. I was going to be providing missing links to my classmates’ happiness…possibly providing a new sense of purpose. Big thoughts for a little person.

Things I chose to bring to their attention: the stickers I had chosen to enhance a book cover; a picture I really liked that was taken by someone else; a souvenir I was given in a “wish you were here” kind of way that was made of rocks and glued-on google eyes. Okay then.

The one I think might be the most entertaining is when I stood in front of the classroom with a pen as if it were the greatest invention ever. It held not one, not two but four different colored inks all in the same pen. I was not the only one in the class who had this “click-the-color-ink-you-want-to-use” pen. So not really much of a show-and-tell when you are bringing youngsters up to speed on an item they already knew about or had. Perhaps someone should have better explained to me how this day was supposed to work.

What changed between elementary school and the present day, I do not entirely know, but it changed drastically. It was quite some time before I told anyone I was painting…never mind let anyone outside the home see them. I had a stack of canvases sitting on the closet floor as this would be the most unlikely place for anyone to encounter them. Something about this felt far too personal.

How this scenario played out, I’ll never know. Of all the people in the world that I know, friends who are skilled designers and artists themselves are the first I showed any of my paintings to. What the heck? It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

The next step I took was hanging some up. I was so bold, I hung them up in my closet. So no one would see them. Obvious progress. I found myself begin to admit to painting more freely, and it begin to change from feeling like a confession to something I wanted to talk about.

Then the unimaginable happened. I brought one to work and hung it up in my office. Right by my desk. Not at all in anyone’s line of sight. But I did it. It was one I had actually approached with a work-related theme in mind so it was fitting. Eventually, I claimed it when asked if it was something I had done…even to the person who asked if one part was supposed to be a grasshopper.

The thing about art is that it is subjective, and that is the beauty of it. Art is appreciated from a perspective of opinion and preference. It can be analyzed, discussed, taken in. But at the end of the day, if it is liked or not is personal. It truly is up to the eye of the beholder. It’s no wonder putting this type of work out there can feel vulnerable. That doesn’t stop me anymore.

I have come to appreciate the input and even seek out opinions from those who I know do not gravitate towards the abstract. Some of my favorite comments have been, “what is it?”, “did you know what you trying to paint ahead of time,” and “this isn’t my taste, but I’m glad you are doing something you enjoy.”

The one that takes the cake came after I had worked up to hanging a second painting in my office— this time in direct line of sight. One person saw it, asked me if I had painted it and finding out I had, promptly asked me if I was on drugs which is an odd question to ask in the work place. So as I said, art is subjective. Keep perspective and that part can be fun.