By Kathy Ostman-Magnusen

About ten years ago I decided that when people asked me what I did or who I was, I would confidently reply, “I am an artist”. No matter how I was making a living or if my status was that of a ‘starving artist’ or not, I would announce, “I am an artist”. I would proclaim what I had fantasized myself to be since I was a little girl.

I started to draw at three and four years old, in the back seat of my parents car as they drove from state to state, looking for rainbows I suspect. I was a little girl drawing mermaids, angel art, fairy art, fantasy art in general. I tried as best I could to make that world alive. I made my own coloring pages. As I grew older I had free paper dolls available to me anytime I decided to make drawings or little paintings of them. Drawings of mermaids and fairies that I imagined to be just like Renaissance paintings. My talent was as good as I decided it could be. My free paper dolls were not paper toys at all, my paper mermaid once given a chance became a real mermaid. Fantasy art would one day be wall murals of a world I would create from my imagination. I did not know of Pablo Picasso; Kandinsky; Marc chagall; or the softness of Mary Cassatt. I had never gone to an art gallery to see Salvador dali paintings; Leonardo da Vinci paintings; or Claude Monet paintings. Such a world to discover ahead of me, full of fine art; paintings and sculptures. As a child I had my own fantasy gallery though and everything I saw became magical.

So what happens as we grow older and those feelings of pretend and fantasy become dull? We find ourselves wondering what took away that spirit of optimism and adventure. When did paper toys appear only as paper, no longer something that fairies and mermaids and dragons became alive in? Does it matter? Is it OK that that part of us that became Tinker Bell or a dragon is no longer there? Or maybe is it OK to try to find them again?

People tell me all the time that they cannot even draw a straight line.

Do you ‘want’ to learn how to draw though? Do you wish you could? Did you draw when you were little? Often the answer is yes.

When you were going to school did anyone ever hand you a piece of paper and say, show me what you can do with algebra without any knowledge of it or any help? Did anyone ever tell you to write a story without first teaching you how to print individual letters? We do that kind of thing with art though don’t we? We think that if a child sits down and draws and does a half way decent job that they are talented. Maybe they are, but maybe the kid sitting next to him could be too, even though he has no confidence to draw that straight line because no one taught him how to draw. I think that talent is ‘desire’ and the rest is practice. If you ‘want’ to be able to draw a straight line or mermaids or dragons then you ‘are’ talented. You are an artist waiting to happen! Somewhere along the line someone dampened your spirit so you stopped trying and stopped dreaming. It may not be in fine art, it may be in writing. You may be itching to say, “I am a writer!” even though you might be making your living as a lawyer or a dishwasher. It is art in our souls and I think we need it.

I am an artist! I paint and draw and sculpt. I try to remember all the visions of my childhood and continue on with those dreams. I paint some fantasy art, mermaids, mermaid babies, African women and African art, do some contemporary art, I even draw some naked art and pin up art. I have come a long way. I do sculptures, sell my oil paintings here and there and even have giclee prints. I try to paint or draw every day. Most of all I try to retain my childhood fantasies of ‘being an artist’. I try to decide what that means to me. Part of it is my thirst to create but part of it is because without magic, without paper toys becoming real to me, I am only an adult, going through the motions of everyday life not noticing a little fairy dust.

“Paper Toys”

Be careful what you step on
It might just be my heart
Some wounds have no recovery
no place from which to start.

The box, packed with tiny ribbons
you made sure they did not get lost.
You flatter me…
to think that much of me
to handle them with such care.

I thank you for the cobwebs
and the way that they were groomed.
I know I should be grateful
that someone heard the loon.

I was greeted by a pattern
set in place so many days ago
I tried to reconstruct my thoughts
and make them not my home.
I stand erect and look from side to side
It seems I’ve made a prisoner of my thoughts
sad day of untidy means and sighs.

I thank you for the cobwebs though.
Through all the rubble
that may have gone unnoticed
and yet…
It’s not as if you could not possibly understand
what to me
was so obviously bemoaned.

I was a little girl
paper dolls in hand
Making paper do
what others
could not possibly understand.
I suppose I should close the box
vacant, without the ribbons
that seemed to have been tossed.
Scold my attitude
and measures of the loss.
I know I should be grateful
for the memories held fast
but oh…
all the beautiful colors
when clipped
could never last.

About Me:
Name:Kathy Ostman-Magnusen
Location:Hawaii, United States
Aloha! I am a figurative artist and Illustrator. If you check out my website you will see that I am very prolific in oils. My paintings are collected worldwide. I also do sculpture; images available upon request. I have illustrated for Hay House Inc. , Neil Davidson, who was considered for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing, and several other publications. I also enjoy story writing and poetry. All of the paintings, stories and poems are written by me. Check out my website “Walk On The Wild Side” Series including the painting of “Neon Blue” is not on my website but can be viewed on my blog:

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