Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Nurturing the Creative Spirit

I was asked by one of my art students the other day, "who taught you to be an artist?" I thought for a moment and I didn't really have an answer. I considered the thought that every person in their own right could be an artist, it's just whether or not from a young age they're encouraged to continue being creative.

After I talked with this girl for a few minutes about my wonderful art teacher in elementary school, my artist friends through HS that got me involved in sculpture work, and then my professors in college that shaped my direction in art, I paused and realized that truly in the beginning it was my Mom who taught me how.

I remember scaling the counter tops in her 5th grade classroom to lay out all of the elements of bulletin board, or having her teach me how to outline the coloring book pages with marker first and fill in with crayon to make the colors pop, or even telling me over and over again, that this time would be the time that HIGHLIGHTS magazine would feature my rudimentary stick figure drawing in their magazine page for kids art submissions. (This never happened, but I'd be damned if I didn't try!)

To be honest, there isn't a time throughout my childhood I can remember when I wasn't being encouraged to be creative. Well except for the time my parents bought me a new bed, and realized when they took the old mattress off of the frame, that I'd been laying under it each night and doodling in permanent marker ALL OVER THE UNDERSIDE.

Dressed to Impress!
My childhood was fun, it was messy, and it was adventurous! There were always rules but never limits to the imagination... Take for example the picture above of "dress yourself for school day." I can only imagine that this was not the outfit my mom would have picked out... but for me it was the coolest!

A little (leaf) feather in Mel's hat! :) As our Grandparents laugh at us!
Hat parties were another favorite past time. The second my sister, our friends, and I figured out you could really make a killer hat out of any object that would fit on your head - the sky was the limit! From newspaper pirate caps to flowery paper plate bonnets we created the head piece and Mom and Dad were left with an afternoon of watching our great adventures...and I'm sure a few laughs along the way!
Paper Plate Bonnet Time, Mom, Me and Amanda with my sister in her terrible Makeup!? Nice glasses mom.
As I look back on it now, my work was never better than anyone else's... never more colorful or more creative- to be honest, it was a hot mess. But I new all of those hot messes were my messes and it was what made me tic. They were mini adventures in my mind - things I had created in order to bring my imagination to life!

My family always gives me a hard time about a vacation we took to Washington DC on the 4th of July. I would guess I was around 10 or 11 - far too old for a blankie but I made sure to have my yellow blanket in tow.  Along the steps of the capital as the fireworks of the 4th exploded behind me and the voice of "Aaron Neville  " echoed the star spangled banner in the background, I ran, leaped, and catapulted my body up and down each flight pretending to be a super hero. In my mind I was invisible, and the whole world blurred around me as I set out on my imaginary quest of 4th of July Domination. Little did I know, my father to this day has this on tape, and really all I was on that muggy July day was an awkward buck toothed 10 year old in my Ked's tennies, ruffled bobby socks and matching "family" American flag outfit with a tattered rag tied around my neck creating a terrible scene for all who would watch.

Notice I was eating more of the chocolate then anything! Mel was probably upset she was dirty :)!
It was the idea of making something out of nothing that to this day I still thrive on. It is the heart behind my business, the root of the clutter in my garage, and the emphasis of almost all of my projects for my home. Nothing to do on a rainy day in October? No problem my Mom would say - how about painting pumpkins or creating fall trees with chocolate, peanut M&M's and a whole lot of butcher paper!

Please notice Mel's perfect painting and my pumpkin that looks like it was thrown up on!

At the end of the day, when I look back on my youth and how much I was encouraged to create, I am so very thankful. Even the nights my Dad would succome to the begging of playing ONE MORE GAME OF PICTIONARY, even though his stick figures never helped him win, we all had so much fun.

So today I take note of those influences. From the very beginning with my Mom instilling the idea that the imagination is limitless - this is something I try to teach all of my students, in hopes that maybe someday they too can look back and say....I knew this crazy art lady way back when and she told me that ANYONE can be an artist all it takes is a few tools, a lot of messes, and a dream.
Still making messes, Senior Year ISU, workin on Herkys!

And yes Mom, I took these photos from your albums, and I will put them back! :) I'm sure you've already noticed! Ha.

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