Don’t Let $5 Stand in the Way of Your Dreams

Don’t Let $5 Stand in the Way of Your Dreams
“If you don’t have paint, use food coloring,” said my art professor. I’d never heard of that method, but it was a relief. I was 17 years old and taking my first college-level class. My high school class provided art supplies, but this course required students to bring their own. And I was broke. “Paint’s expensive,” she told us, “and food coloring will work just as well.” So, I squeezed a few drops of liquid color into Dixie cups, added water, and dipped in my brush. Although I willed that weird medium to blend into sunset-y washes, it didn’t work. My colors moved in unpredictable patterns and dried blotchy and faded. Growing up with four brothers and two sisters, I learned early to be frugal. If a rubber band broke, my dad knotted it and used it again. My mom used margarine tubs instead of Tupperware, vinegar instead of window cleaner, and cotton cloths instead of paper towels. All of us cut our napkins in half before dinner and reused our plastic bags. For the most part, this philosophy served me well. Frugality — added to hours of babysitting, busing tables, teaching swimming lessons, and cleaning houses — meant that when it was time for college, I had enough savings to pay for most of it. But in the process, my mind got trapped. During that art class, I took my professor’s word that the supplies I needed were expensive, so I didn’t even explore my options. When the class ended, I saw a “C” on my report card, my first ever — at least, in an art cl
Subscribe or to access all post and page content.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.