March 21, 2018: Respite and Refuge

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” 
― Thomas MertonNo Man Is an Island

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” 
― Pablo Picasso

Some of you (who ever is reading this) may have noticed that I like art. Okay, I love art. I always remember loving art, well before I could even scratch the surface of it.

  • I love how art can be personal to the artist and subjective to the viewer.
  • I love that art exists in an ever expanding list of ways.
  • I love that art isn’t just about technical skill (something not all of us have) but emotion (something all of of have).
  • I love that art inspires.
  • I love that what is beautiful and moving to one person may not be to everyone.
  • I love that art can hypnotize me into loosing track of time.

I could keep going but I think I’d better stop for now.

I had said in a prior days post that Art classes were the only good grade my report card was ever guaranteed. I had always done well in art. I think part of this comes from my mom. Before I went into school my mother ran a daycare. She always allotted time in the day for “crafts.”

My mother has one of the most ingenuitive minds I’ve ever met. Not only is she artistic but she has the unique capability to look at one thing and see it in numerous forms. (Half the things I see on Pinterest my mother has been doing for years.) So, perhaps it’s fair to say that I come by it naturally.

A few years ago, just after I finished college (the first time around) I was stressing out. Something about that first year, you love it but you feel like a dog in a flood struggling to keep their head above water. As a way of decompressing, I dug my supplies out of storage and started painting again.

I’m not the worlds best painter. I still struggle with the rigidity of the way I think things “ought to” be done. But it’s relaxing nonetheless.  Some things I know right away aren’t right for me. For instance sewing. As the daughter and granddaughter of a seamstress, I do it but really only out of necessity. Knitting and crocheting I’ve been taught (more than once). While I’m amazed by what people can do it doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest. Traditional mosaics…I’m a really terrible tile and glass cutter.

On the other hand there are some things that fit right in. Digital art has so many potential products. Photography, I wanted to learn how to develop film in high school but my camera got stolen. Even performance art, primarily acting and speaking. I imagine I would love singing if we had had more classes for it in school. Creative writing, I’d always been a story teller.

In high school it was a resting spot. As my sixth and seventh hour classes it gave me a chance to unwind from the day. In my junior and senior year I was in self directed study (art 2 and 3). Mr. Heckman would be waiting at his desk. When I’d walk in he’d pull out a HUGE sam-club size jar of peanut butter and hand me a disposable spoon. I think he knew I usually skipped lunch or ate at the vending machines. We’d sit there and eat several large spoonfuls then I’d go off and get lost for an hour and create.

The thing is, I’m never content with just one (or five) outlet for creativity. So, I started to expand my horizons. Now I do a little furniture restoration, up-cycling, and I’m going to try my hand at gardening and flowers this year.

The joy in expressing and creating holds strong to this day. But, it all goes back to that first drawing that the itch struck. It was in third grade. We were doing a unit on the ocean in our main classroom. Our art teacher set up lots of two demential and three demential displays of ocean wild life. We got to pick one and draw it. I picked the puffer fish. For some reason I was enthralled by them. I remember at one point she told me it might help me to squint while looking at it. I don’t know why, but the advice helped. Sometimes when I’m hung up on details…I still find myself doing it.

Art has always been a safe haven for me. A place that I was free to express my ideas without the struggle of writing, reading, or calculating it. It’s been a place where I can find a way to make abstract ideas tangible. It’s a place where I can find respite from a weary world.

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