Artist Awakening. Beginning of my life as an Artist. Earliest art making memory…. whatever you want to call it, I began thinking about how art was first introduced to me as a child. My father was quite the artist in his day as well as his father. One of my earliest memories was asking my grandfather to draw a coffee cup. He would draw a very simple cup with liquid, steam and a cast shadow. And at 8 years old, I would copy his drawing until I became frustrated that it did not look like his. He has left this side of life and gone to that other place, where I’m sure he’s looking down on me, laughing hysterically.
While my grandfather was my teacher, my father was my critic. He would always say “Draw what you see. Does that look like that? Is that a hard edge or a soft edge? Does a nose curve like that or like this?” He would pop off questions that would aggravate the hell out of me…And I would try to give up, walk away in a huff but of course… I always went back to the drawing.
My great- aunt was incredibly short. Looking back, I highly doubt she cleared 5 feet. Everything in her house was short. But the most important item in her house was her gas heater that sat in the far corner of her living room. On top of the heater, were maybe 20 candles of Jesus and Mary…. possibly some saints. I would sit and stare at the images on the candles, 1) trying to figure out how they were attached to the candle (sometimes I was…slow. The word “Sticker” never even occurred to me) and 2) admiring the beautiful images glowing from the lit wick.
My grandmother and my father were my pushers. Enablers. Connections. Hook Ups. Sources. The ones with the s***. They supplied YEARS of art supplies, colored pencils, chalk pastels, a plastic pottery wheel, watercolors, coloring books, sketchpads, craft sets, scissors, paint brushes, paper, paper and more paper. And Books!! Some of the best days were Thursdays when the downtown library stayed open late with free parking and my Dad would drive us when he got off work. I spent hours on a bean bag chair, reading Buffy the Vampire Slayer. ( Don’t judge me)
My brothers provided the competition because I could always “do it better !”
I remember aunts and uncles asking, ” C, what do you want to be when you grow up?” And I always had a different answer. 1) An artist was never one of the answers! Can you believe it?! At any given moment, I wanted to be a hairdresser, a police officer, a nurse, a teacher or…. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Regardless of the answer my mother would chime in and say, “She’s going to be a writer.”
A few years ago, I asked her how did she know that I would be a writer versus being Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And her response, I’ll remember forever,” You were always writing little stories all the time. So I bought the composition books and you kept writing. You wrote all the time, these little stories.”
So… what is your earliest art making memory? Who was your enabler? Who was your critic? Did you want to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Looking back what led you to be an art educator, artist, critic etc? Feel free to leave a comment. I won’t kill you with a stake to the heart.