Ashlee Melinat on Life.
February 23, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I met Ashlee Melinat (already an amazing artist and freshman at APU) in English Lit. She made witty comments, I spoke up for the class. We got along. Hit it off right off the bat. That was September 2004, but it feels like yesterday. Over the years we’ve laughed, gone in jacuzzi’s to flirt with boys, kissed to get a reaction, and had super intense conversations over French toast at Flappy Jack’s. She’s just one of those people that I can’t help but love. I think Ashlee can agree when I say, we just get each other. She’s one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met–and I’m sure ever will meet. Read on to hear a bit of her heart and be sure to check out some of the art I’m talking about at http://www.amelinat.com and keep up with her art and her life at http://www.ashleesfrenchtoast.tumblr.com!
It’s been nearly three years since I graduated from college. Three years, and I sometimes feel that I have very little to show artistically for that time. I haven’t had any shows, my body of work doesn’t seem to have one cohesive thread in it. I’ve tried to start writing comics, but I can’t decide on one particular style and when I come down to it, I’m far too impatient to be a good writer. I’m horrible at character development and story arcs are not my strong suit. I’ve filled sketchbooks with numerous doodles, but nothing substantial. I’ve been living in an artistic limbo. All of the sudden I have to take control of my artistic career all by myself. I have no deadlines or assignments; no one telling me what to do. No matter how many times they may tell you it will be like this after you graduate (and some places don’t even bother to try and prepare you) you’re never really prepared. A very, very small percentage of students find a way to make money at doing art afterwards. The rest of us have to figure out how to get a “real” job to make money for rent, bills, and sometimes, food. Suddenly you realize how expensive art supplies really are. It becomes a battle of whether you really want to buy five Lean Cuisines for $10 vs. a 9×12 watercolor block.
I must say, however, no matter how little I have to show art-wise, I have gained a world of life experience. I never really realized how much people grow experientially between 22 and 25. When I was 12 I thought I knew everything, but at my teenage years progressed I realized how naïve I was. Then, when I was 22 I thought I knew everything again, only to discover in the years afterwards that I was acting 12 all over again. Lord bless my college professors for being so long-suffering. Now I long for the days of being a carefree 22-year-old again. Back in the days when I didn’t get hang-overs and I could stay up all night painting and still function the next day.
I’ve made some important discoveries along the way. As an art major I think I got caught up in the idea of making a living as an artist, and therefore I lost sight of some of my other passions, namely teaching. I wish I had been more in touch with that when I was in college, because I would have gotten my teaching credential then. Hindsight is 20/20 though, so I had to realize it in my own time. I am happy to have reconnected with this passion of mine, even if it took me a couple of years. I am now working as a substitute teacher for a private school (the one I attended in high school) and I’m doing it all, K-12. It’s been great. I only started this past September and it’s been simply amazing. I’ve found out that I love 8th graders and 11th and 12th graders. Thus far they are my favorites.
So where does that leave me now? I make art sometimes, but I picked up an evening shift at my retail job from last year, so I’m potentially working four 13-hour days a week (Usually not though, since I average out at about 3 days of subbing). Not a lot of time for art, but I think that’s okay. I can’t remember where I heard it, or maybe it’s just a culmination of things I’ve heard over the years, but I’ve grown to see being an artist as a way of living life more than a measurement of how much art is actually produced. It’s a way of thinking and a way of being. It’s remembering to be creative in our approach to things. And the truth is that no matter what you do, life happens. You meet people, you have to get a job, babies are born, priorities change, and this doesn’t make any of us any less of an artist. We can really only do the best we can at any given time. Sometimes the best we can do is making art all day long and other times the best we can do is just to think about making something. Either way, the intention is there, as is the inspiration and the love. Artistic energy is like potential energy. It’s just there, waiting to happen, waiting to be released. And I think as long as we don’t lose sight of that, we can always call ourselves artists.