Monday, September 13, 2004

Art's Influence on My Life

Art is a little more than a man's name....

When I was little, my grandmother would drag me to museums and art galleries, in an attempt to enlighten me.  She was an artist, and she painted beautiful oil paintings that hung all over the house.  I remember one painting was of a grey cat with bright yellow eyes hiding in the tall grass of the backyard.  That painting hung in the hallway of my grandparents' house, and it was one of my favorites.  I tried so hard to imitate that painting when I was little, but it never quite turned out right.

My father is also a talented artist, but his art is more abstract.  It was more difficult for me to find the meaning in his work, until one day I got brave and asked him.  One piece he did was of several figures running up endless flights of stairs - all in black and white.  His explanation was that he felt that way in life sometimes - so stressed and almost chased by responsibilities.  I sat and pondered that for a long time. 

Two days before my mother left I had a horrible nightmare that she was riding away from me, waving from the back of a stagecoach, and no matter how fast I ran I never did catch her.  I drew that dream as best I could. (I was eight years old.) The day she left I stared at it, and dripped tears all over it, realizing my nightmare was more reality than I feared.

My drawing has always been an expression or an extension of me.  Whatever I'm feeling at a certain time, whatever mood I happen to be in, I can sketch it, draw it or paint it and it becomes tangible in some way.  I can paint feelings, dreams, ideas, impressions, struggles, moods, states of mind...whatever suits me, and its part of me.  Its an extension of the jumbled mess of my mind.  Its all pieces of me.

For the longest time I was afraid to attempt anything even remotely artistic or creative because of my father's endless critique of my work as a child.  My shadowing was never right, my colors were always off, my images were never realistic enough.  For a very long time I would draw or sketch and throw away my work because I was ashamed of it.  As I grew olderand more confident things changed, as they often do.  I started saving some of my sketches, and once, quite by accident, someone came across them on my desk at work and commented on what talent I had.

Why I needed that to feel better about my art, I'll never know.  I started sketching horses for my daughter, then I moved to sketching flowers and landscapes, and studying not only how they appeared in reality but how I interpreted things and how these things appeared to me.  Before I knew it my room, living room, dining room, refrigerator doors, hallways and everywhere else were scattered with different pieces in different media and people were just amazed that I hadn't done more of it sooner.  I even amazed myself.  I got bold enough to frame some of my work and actually display it in my office. 

I encourage my daughters to embrace art every day.  I drag them to art shows and museums and galleries.  I go insane over their work, commenting on the creativity and the color.  My kids critique my work as well, making suggestions along the way.  They look at my sketches and try to imitate them in their own way, just as I did with Grandma's work.  Its such a strange and wonderful feeling to know they love it that much. 

My office walls are covered in paintings, drawings and sketches my children have done for me.  I cherish every single one of their little masterpieces because I know, as it is with me, that every single one of them is an extension of their little souls, now tangible as a precious gift to me.



This essay was written in response to an entry in Judi's journal - a little contest she's been gracious enough to sponsor.  Thanks for helping me reflect.

If anyone's interested, please visit this link for details:


phlskygirl said...

I envy your talent, and your passion for it (they don't always go hand in hand; you're very fortunate).  I discovered early on that I'm a wonderful emulator, copier, and direction-follower.  I loved my art classes, as long as I was given a sense of direction, or some sort of assignment.  Without it, I floundered, and could come up with nothing original on my own.  I eventually got over it, and realized that that's just how my brain works.  But my envy (and admiration) for those that CAN will never go away.  Sigh.

By the way, in case you missed my reply to your comment in my journal, here's the C&P, you wench...



kuhlhiggins said...

I loved the sketching of the unicorn. You are a very talented lady.

viviansullinwank said...

What a wonderful essay! I found my way here thanks to Judith HeartSong's essay contest.  I enjoyed reading about your background in art, how you are encouraging your children's artistic talents and I loved seeing the unicorns you and your daughter sketched!


judithheartsong said...

Hi Kris! Thanks so mcuh for entering the contest! What a great entry! :):) judi