One of the first things that Wade and I did after we got engaged was to buy a living room set. We knew we wouldn’t have the money to buy new, and, being September, garage sale season was nearing its end. So when Wade found a couch, coffee table and two armchairs that was in great condition, scent free (he has a radar nose for smoke), and matching (a bonus!) for $150, he snapped it up. The chunky wood frame was so 1972, but the upholstery, though brown, wasn’t hideous, and so I embraced our first co-purchase.

I would never have believed that we would still be using the same couch nearly ten years later. The not-quite-an-eyesore brown upholstery was virtually indestructible, and that was a good thing, as all my babies were “spitty”. But the plywood base that supported the seat cushions was not exactly “posterior-friendly” and, especially during the early months of nursing babies, I could feel my rear end getting flatter (and, as a result, wider) as I sat for hours on the couch, jiggling a fussy babe.

This summer we finally made a decision and took home a new couch (sofa? chesterfield?). It too is brown, but there the resemblance ends. Years of flat bottoms, of cracking our heads on the wooden arms of Old Reliable, of trying to stretch out with my honey to watch the latest “Survivor” episode and ending up on the floor, makes us all appreciate the new, soft, wide and deep welcoming physique of our new couch.

But…yesterday I was thinking about when I first decided to make watercolor my creative passion. I didn’t have a studio (still don’t, actually) and 3-4 nights of the week I would sit down on the sturdy brown couch, painting board on my lap and palette, brushes and water balanced precariously on the arm of the couch. I would paint, stop to allow a layer to dry and watch some TV or read a chapter of my newest library book. I created about 70 paintings in two years just by sitting on that old brown couch, night after night. Once I spilled my dirty paint water. I jumped up to get a towel and run damage control, but that upholstery lived up to its 1970’s technology – the water didn’t even soak in but just pooled in the indentation from my flat bottom. Now that the couch is gone (we decided against having our own garage sale and retired Old Reliable for good), a little piece of my artistic history has gone with it.

Moral of the story, though, is: Don’t wait. Don’t put off starting your creative story for lack of a studio, or the proper education, or even the right materials. Use what you have, where you are right now, and don’t worry about doing it “properly” – just do it!