There will be a time in your life, and you won't know quite why, but you, I am quite sure, will want to pick up some sort of artistic utensil and spread sunshine and butterflies (or anger and despair, take your pick) to the rest of the world.

I'm addicted, but not to anything conventional or especially controversial. I'm addicted to color.

At roughly three years old, I was coloring on my wall with magic markers. I suppose I felt that it needed spice.

At four, I was dressing my baby brother up in shiny green and purple princess dress-up clothes (plus a very lovely Ariel tiara, complete with sparkly silver fuzz around the edge), and putting stick-on earrings and my great-grandmother's old scuffed-up, strappy, heeled black shoes on him. It's a wonder he turned out masculine at all (he's a football center and also does discus for track and field). After a while, this got old and I resumed dressing myself and my friend Sabrina instead.

At five I was doing sand-art maniacally, all over our black and white linoleum kitchen floor, at eleven o' clock at night. In case you're wondering, it was without the consent of my parents. I had shot bolt upright in bed after a nightmare and, because I was no longer sleeping in my parents' room, I could pretty much do what I wanted. Anyway, I had a strange, immediate urge to go and do sand art, spreading the brightly pigmented hunter's orange, violently neon purple, and light sea-green nontoxic sediments all over the floor around me and not really getting much in the three clear glass bottles that had come with the kit. I didn't care. It was fun. My mother, of course, was furious the next morning when she found me snoring, curled up against the kitchen cabinets, with an oddly glittering, multi-hued carpet spread around me for about three feet in any given direction.

At six, in first grade, I colored on the table. When the teacher told me to stop, I colored on my shoes. When that got boring, I began to color on the floor. My parents were called.

At the ripe old age of seven I was watercoloring at my grandparents' house at my grandma's big wooden desk in the basement; on average, per visit, I would turn out roughly five sheets of really bad, really (really really) bright stick figures, houses, and spoons. The first thing I could really draw realistically was a spoon; more or less, it was a big old soup ladle like the ivory-tinted plastic one my mother kept with her pale wooden cooking spoons.

At eight, I was painting Christmas ornaments in Sunday school with glitter glue (oh, how I loved glitter glue) and deciding I wanted to work for Lladro when I grew up.

At nine, I decided I was going to learn how to be a girl version of Michaelangelo, pink and purple hair wraps, little-girl flip flops and all; and so I began obsessively making flowers and basic shapes with a Sculpey set my other grandmother had bought me for my birthday.

Shortly after I was through with this phase, at around eleven, I became a moody, allergy-afflicted preteen, and through the misguided good intentions of my cousin, decided to learn how to draw anime people, after seeing a few of her Sailor Moon tapes. This lasted until I was perhaps fourteen, when my family and I left the East Coast behind for Colorado.

Somewhere in there, I decided I liked fashion and drawing ladies' clothing. This phase has lasted me, unlike most of the others.

Then, I became a mildly popular, even more moody high school student, and was enrolled in drawing and painting class. I finally learned how to put the lines where I saw them, instead of where I though they should go, and it began to look like maybe I could draw a little after all.

Then the moodiness began to clear off, and I could see how ridiculous I'd been, and I began to get along with most people. No longer was I the outcast artist I'd become in my pre-teenage years.

Sometime towards the end of my junior year, I decided that I really liked art (what a shock) and enrolled in the highest-level drawing class the school offered for seniors, usually known as A.P. Studio Art. I also enrolled in photography, which I actually find more to my taste.

I also became interested in psychedelic art in the last year or so and began to paint an enormous peacock in vibrant hues of lemon yellow and teal, right on the wall of my bedroom. By now, my parents have finally become inured to my habit of coloring everything.

I don't know what lies ahead of me, but I know it will be bright.


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