There are few things in childhood as pleasant to remember as a brand new box of Crayola crayons. So full of promise, all those sharp points, perfect for outlining and then filling in, bringing a simple black skeleton of a picture to life with all the imagination of a young child.
Who am i kidding? I STILL love a new box of crayons, this one pictured here is mine, Oh yeah, I said that I bought it for the grandkids to use but in truth....mine. And yesterday i got to use them, legitimately. I had high hopes of coming home from work in the morning and doing a little picture taking and uploading, posting here on my blog and then getting ready to return to work having fulfilled a little creative urge.
It was during the picture taking in my garden that my grandaughter spotted me and wanted to come to "Nanny's" house. Well, wanting soon turned to wailing and so the plans changed. How could I refuse????
"Can I color?" Sure you can. "will you color with me" I'd love to!
When I think back on my childhood, art and creativity was always an important part of who I was. The story in the family goes like this.. when i was about my grandaughters age, 3, I am told that when i met my Aunt Elaine i promptly told her that I was going to be a nurse and an artist when I grew up. I remember waking up in the morning and playing with colorforms in my bed. Not the kinds you see now, but the originals, the ones that just had colored shapes with which you had to build your own pictures. As I mentioned earlier, a new box of crayons and a beautifully illustrated coloring book was a treat.
At Christmas we were told we could ask for something special, not like kids nowadays whose lists are endless with mega electronics and everything that goes with them, no we could pick something special and then maybe a few smaller things. My list ALWAYS had some form of art supply that i HAD to have! There was the year i got REAL artists oil pastels and a REAL artists' easel and canvases. Then there was the REAL wooden artists' box complete with REAL oil paints and turpentine and linseed oil in the small glass bottles. Can you smell that? That's the smell of a REAL artist! Next came the acrylics and the watercolors and the calligraphy sets and pens with nibs and the ever exotic India ink. There was the year of the battery operated pottery wheel which was great until I tried to actually put my hands on the clay and form something, the pressure slowed the wheel to a complete stop. One day I will get a REAL wheel I promised myself! There was sewing, and cutting and pasting and saving everything in sight because "I can make something out of that, Mom!" There was no place that we went that i didn't inevitably come back with something that i was going to "make something" out of. Not much has changed but I'll leave that for another post!
I always wanted artist lessons, not something a young growing family can afford so i signed up for a program at a local library when i was about 8. It was on Saturday mornings. The last project we did was to illustrate a story. Each of us had a part, I don't remember the story but the part I had to illustrate was the melting of the ice cream mountain! Perfect! I had just the pastels for the job! I think I used everyone I had, colorful melting ice cream mountain. We were actually critiqued and i remember the instructor told me my technique was like Salvadore Dali and i should research him.
The first real validation I felt as an artist was when my Aunt Elaine asked me to do an oil painting for her. Really? Yes, she wanted something Jackson Pollack-esque. Just go outside and splatter brightly colored oil paints on a canvas. Are you sure? That's all? But the cool part was she actually hung it in her living room, for like a long time, not just to make me feel good. It was really part of her decor. Thank you Aunt Elaine!
So my point with all this rambling? As children we seem to instinctively KNOW who we are and what we're meant to do. It's as we get older that we lose our way, we let the everyday get in the way of our true purpose. We let the voices creep into our head telling us, "you can't do that, you're a grownup now, you have responsibilities" " what makes you think you are an artist?" Stop in the middle of the day and color? Nonsense.
Well, I say raise your box of crayons, declare "I am an artist" and toast to a hefty dose of nonsense!