At first a pencil and paper were enough. In about the sixth grade I entered a magazine contest and won a certificate to an art school. Trouble was the school was about a hundred miles away in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Our small town high school had no frilly subjects like art. It was strictly academic although music and sports ranked high. I contented myself by drawing in my spare time.
Entering Riverside Junior College in 1943, I was still aiming for that art career star. I took the only art course still given, Art Appreciation. The reason? During WWII all non-essential courses in state schools were dropped. My further education in art would be on hold until after I'd earned the mandatory credits. But after those first two years another career intercepted art. I married at nineteen and became a Marine officer's wife, then a mother. I watched gladly to see our third child, Robin, become the artist I might have been. She had every advantage in that direction, a burning desire to be an artist from the age of three, plenty of art classes in the artist community where she grew up, a college scholarship in art, a summertime booth at the art festival in Laguna Beach and a promising career that is blossoming today.
In 1986, after becoming a Marine widow, I enrolled in a clay sculpting class in the Laguna. It turned out that I was the only one in the class to learn sculpting. The rest made pots and the teacher set me off in a corner by myself with several how-to books, a few tools and a large block of clay. After the first week I knew I'd found my niche. I quit my job as a secretary in a retirement community and dove into what was to become my art star chase at last.
I'd hardly begun when life threw me another path, the building of a dream house in my old home town in Minnesota. There I had a big studio, a kiln, and a new life. Until, that is, I went to Summer Session for Adults at Principia College to take a course in sculpting. There another side road showed up, marriage to Dr. Robby, a retired college professor at that school. I sold my house and moved to West County, St. Louis. Sculpting again took a back seat.
Now, nearly seven years after my eight year marriage to Robby, I have belatedly begun again. I sculpt faces. I can do full figures but only the faces interest me. They come out of the clay almost forcefully as if I have nothing more to do than let my hands and fingers go to it. In a little while someone begins to appear. Someone gives me the eye, the smile (yes, they all smile) and I am hooked until the face and I have bonded and it says, "Thank you, Joycie!"
The faces are coming now, two, three, four a day. I'm in heaven and find it hard to keep up with my housework, much less reading and all the other to-do's that come along. Robin is helping me to get ready for being juried for the art festival next summer. She thinks I have a good chance to get in. She's also suggested a name for my faces: Beautiful People. They don't have the ordinary kind of beauty and some might think them homely, (though I can't imagine why!) Each has an inner beauty, that shines through. I take a lump of clay and don't quit until someone, a real person and someone I absolutely love, comes out.
Here's how I'll market them soon, with this note on their numbered certificate declaring that there is only one original of them. It says:
Out of clay I come to you
with only a hope for one more view
of a life I lived and a place I knew
on a planet called
Joyce Darling Collections - original sculpture #______
I have no delusions that these, my faces, will make me famous. I'll leave that to heaven. I just revel each day in the joy of having found my way to my star and the inspiration to get with it. I may never make a fortune. That's irrelevant to me. Clay is not expensive. My tools don't wear out. The faces keep coming and I feel like I've finally found a darn good reason for living. Now I must not get de-railed again. I think I've learned at last to stay on the beam!