The Charcoal Pencil Epiphany

Taylor Atienza, Features Editor

For a good portion of my life, I existed with a perpetual case of “artist’s hands”, the state of having one’s hands streaked with paint and pigment.  Before you begin to wonder how weirdly incompetent I must have been to not be able to keep a bit of color off my hands, I promise this story is not only about my inability to keep markers and ink off my palms, but also a small revelation I hope both you and I can keep in mind in the future.

When I unpacked my art supplies and began to draw a few weeks ago, it abruptly occurred to me how long it had been since I last felt charcoal on my fingertips.  How long had it been since I indulged in the simple pleasures of smoothing graphite across a page?  Even the grain of the paper felt slightly foreign.  The pencil moved slowly across the page at first, tentative and unsure.  My stiff hands began to loosen as time went on, and I finally began to feel the familiar calm seep into my thoughts.

When I finished, I couldn’t help but laugh at how easily I had dirtied my hands with shadowy smudges.  And then everything fell into place and I stopped giggling, and ran a finger over my palm.  Artist’s hands.  How could I have forgotten about that?  It’s curious, how something can be part of your life for a little more than forever and then be lost to time.  I realized I had pushed aside something that used to be a large part of my identity; the multi-colored coat of dye was my second skin.  How had I allowed something that brought so much enjoyment to slip away?

Time.  It was purely because I never had time.  I was busy; absorbed in everything else but the things I really wanted to do.  Surely you, reader, can relate to this.  We’re all busy with school, and it’s easier said than done to make time for the things you really enjoy – but I hope you find time for yourself.  I think most of us get caught up in work and stress and lose ourselves while we do so.  

But what exactly does one do to make time for these things?  I’m afraid that I can’t really help with that, as I’m still attempting to make time myself.  However, I know it’s easier said than done to put aside that upcoming benchmark or essay for even a little while, and I’m not encouraging you to disregard your grades.  I’m only hoping that you’ll find your own artist’s hands again, and in doing so, bring some joy back into your life.