Getting Lucy Out of My Head

On Thursday I took the train into Boston, and as we passed through a snow-covered field the morning sun turned the ground to sparkles.  It was windy, and so off in the distance the snow was being whipped up.  From the train, it seemed like the sparkles were in the sky.  Obviously, “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” immediately popped into my head.

This song and I have some issues.

Sixth grade art class, the just-out-of-art-school itinerant teacher turned up one day with a record under her arm.  She handed out paper and crayons and told us to draw what we saw while listening to “Lucy”.  (Depending on what decade you were born in, you think this was genius or appalling.)

I’m pretty sure I had my first panic attack that day, sitting in the back of the classroom.  Art class and I were already on thin ice; mostly, I just was glad it wasn’t gym.  I couldn’t draw any more than I could play floor hockey, and throwing in a song based on someone’s acid trip was just too much for my 12-year old mind.  It’s not that I didn’t have an imagination, it was that I was completely incapable of communicating what I saw.  At least, not on paper.  And so, sitting there bereft that my diamonds looked nothing like….well, anything, I knew:  I would never be an Artist.

At the time this was mostly okay with me, since I wanted to be an archaeologist anyway.  (My first choice was being a physicist until I found out that math was involved.)  But over the years, this grated at me.  In college many of my friends were either artists or musicians, and talented ones at that.  I’d hang out at the art school with them and go to their shows, but I was resigned to being part of the cheering section.


Since college, I’ve dabbled in all sorts of things, mostly textile & fiber art stuff that no one will ever see.  But this summer I started hiking and taking pictures – and I loved it.  At least some of the joy came from the fact that FINALLY, I could show people what I saw!  They might not know why I took the picture, or what I was thinking, or what it meant to me, but dammit they could SEE WHAT I SAW.  Oh, happy days!  More, please!

So I set an intention this year to learn more about photography.  Alas, after 4 weeks, I must report that my photography project has been a bit of a bumpy road.  Frigid cold temperatures and wind gusts do not make for taking very excellent photos, I am afraid.  I’m still very much in learning-the-camera mode, and trying to figure out what makes a good “artistic” photo versus just a good snapshot.  I can’t say I see any progression after these first four weeks – I still am very much in the “take lots of pictures and hope one comes out” stage.  So many of the shots I take look great on the camera, but once I upload them the imperfections are heartbreakingly obvious. When this happens, it’s hard not to start feeling that pit of dread in my stomach, and feeling like I’m right back in that art class so many years ago with “Lucy” taunting me.

Still, there are occasionally things like this, that help keep me going:

Box Tree


About Lori Allen Writes

Lori is plotting to take over the world one essay, one quilt, and one hand knit sock at a time.
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2 Responses to Getting Lucy Out of My Head

  1. Medley says:

    Photography and quilting are my only entrees into art. (And for quilting it’s more quilt design than any particular skill at the craft itself.) You probably already know this, but to reinforce: back when I was trying to take more interesting pictures (pre-kid) the best and simplest rule of thumb I came across was ‘rule of thirds.’ It can turn a blah picture into a really interesting picture. And the best part is, sometimes you can achieve it in cropping afterward, even if you don’t quite get it in the original. 🙂

  2. Courtney Walsh says:

    Ummm… I TOTALLY remember that art class. It was pretty traumatic….. the fact that we are even remotely able to function in life after that is a testament to how awesome we are. Just sayin’…

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