Thursday, August 6, 2009

Artistic expression

I've been thinking a lot about what constitutes 'art' and who gets credit for the vision in the result that's finally presented to the world.

I am the mother of two grown sons - Art Boy and GI Joe and, as different as they are, I couldn't be prouder of either of them.

Art Boy has the studio, gallery openings and the student loans for a MFA to prove that he's a bona fide artist. He's been an inspiration to me 'cause he's living his dream - even if it still includes too many meals of Ramen Noodles, paintings I don't 'get' and an alternative life style that makes me nervous about catastrophic illness and to what residence his Social Security check will be going 30 yrs from now.

A few months ago, I was talking to him about how much I wanted to try drawing, painting or some other type of visual expression. I needed a break from journaling, reports and all the 'wordy' ways of framing and defining my world.

I’m creative but I'm not artistic; and while screaming, irate bangers and their babies’ mamas don't intimidate me, a box of watercolors or tubes of acrylics can bring me to my knees!

After listening to my whining about having no talent, no ideas and being afraid, Art Boy offered up both the requisite eye roll and an exasperated, "OMG, Mom; draw some lines and color them in; people have been doing that for centuries - and for ideas, go on line, see what other people are drawing and - insert GASP here - copy them!"

So I did that - because while it’s not a great parenting idea to do what your kids tell you when they're still too small to get on most rides at the amusement park, its good practice to follow their lead when they're functioning adults who are getting ready to tell you when you have to stop driving and what home they're putting you in.

So, for the past few months, by stretching WAY beyond my comfort level, giving myself permission to fail (and succeeding I might add), I have found a wonderful outlet for creativity and had fun doing it.

If you haven’t inferred from the conversation thus far, let me spell it out for you - - I am a totally derivative fledgling artist!

The pieces of ‘art work’ I produce at home are for my pleasure – and my sanity.
The process of playing with colors, paints and markers have prevented me from becoming a total loon and saved me from remaining curled in a fetal position, drooling in a corner - the end point of a work day that can suck the brains and will to live right out of my heart and head.
I apologize that while I was looking on line for images that spoke to me, I failed to pay any attention to the artists’ name who was putting his/her creation out there in the first place.

I have valued both the process of creating and the process of introspection about why this particular image was calling to me on a specific day.

If someone from outside my immediate circle of friends ever sees this journal and recognizes an image or picture that was originally done by their second cousin in Idaho, their best friend or their crazy neighbor – 1) I’m shocked, since they’re WAY better at this art stuff than I am and I’m surprised it bears any resemblance to their work at all. 2) it’s not been sold to anyone else, taking money out of your cousins/BFF/neighbors pocket; it’s still in my ‘art corner’ in my private cottage and 3) Thank them for me since their vision spoke to my heart, inspired me, helped me grow and has been a stepping stone on my path to finding my own 'voice' as an artist.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

...and I'm off...

I once overheard someone describe me as “that woman who levels with everyone although she’s a bubble off center herself”.

I chose to be amused, rather than offended, by that description since it contains a kernel of truth with which I can be comfortable – as long as the bubble leans left!

Ralph Waldo Emerson hit the nail on the head when he offered:
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate and to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

I live to make a difference.
For nearly 3 decades, I have been a Social Worker in a tertiary level pediatric hospital in the Midwest, covering the Emergency room and child abuse cases.

I have seen the worst that human beings can inflict on each other and I have witnessed incredible acts of bravery and compassion.
I know that the power of Evil, like the power of Love, is real.
I live to continue tipping the scales, trusting in Gods promise that Loves power will truly get the last word.

I live well; not in the sense of having material wealth, riches or the ‘things’ that Madison Ave declares as essential for happiness, but in seeking balance, beauty and truth.

I am low tech and low maintenance.

I like to have fun and be irreverent.

I surround myself with relationships and objects that bring joy to my heart and a smile to my face and which serve as antidotes to the poison with which I have daily contact.

I am not an interior designer nor am I a master gardener.
I will not post pictures taken from books or online magazines featuring the most perfectly staged environments.
There is a place for the sites offering this unattainable visual eye candy – but this isn’t it!

I’m writing this journal for myself.
I have no store on Etsy or Ebay; nothing to sell; no point of view looking for converts

Fair warning: while for the sake of my clients’ privacy and my continuing employment, work situations will be modified for anonymity, my descriptions and my reactions to them will NOT be.

I live in the real world – and it’s a glorious mix of ugliness and beauty. In these posts, as in life, I will struggle to get the balance right.

I therefore offer the experiences that comprise my days, my thoughts, my reflections and those visual delights that speak to me.