Tag Archives: Art

Color me happy

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The color of the sky after the sun sets is Midnight Blue although it appears hours before midnight.  I wasn’t that fond of Magenta but I could recognize it along with Red-Violet and Violet-Red.  Every September as I was given my list of school supplies,  I would hope that more than anything, that it would be the year that I would receive my own box of 64 crayons and get the box with the sharpener in the back.  I knew all the colors. I knew the organization of the four smaller boxes of 16 that made up the “64” as I would call them.  The colors became the colors of my imagination as I thought of Burnt Sienna as a color I wouljd see in Colorado or Arizona.  Cornflower was the color of the wild flowers that grew near my aunt and uncle’s house in the field nearby, along with Goldenrod, the color and the weed.  They gave definition to my view of nature and the colors that made up the surface of  tree bark was more than Brown, it was Raw Umber.  It made the sounds of the names of the colors exotic.  It interpreted distinctions and shades and created a vocabulary for me.  I coveted my own box and I knew I would take very good care of them.

I saw a box for sale on Etsy that might have been the box I might have had, if life was different.  The box had a price tag of 78 cents.  Money was not in great abundance in our household and my mother was frugal and suggested that having a box of 8 or perhaps 16 was all that was in the school supply budget.  I still would ask, because when you are eight or nine or ten years old, that box of 64 Crayolas meant the world.  The rules were different then and asking once usually got a lecture about not asking again.  I did understand in my head, but my heart said Periwinkle and Salmon, which were neither in the box of 8 or 16.

I wasn’t a coloring book type of kid.  I always made my own drawings that I filled in.  I was totally an out of the lines girl.  Doodling is still a big part of my day and distracts me. My blotter on my desk is filled with pen and ink robots and flowers and checkboard patterns.  Every month is another art show that I create while on the phone.  My mother was artistic and creative.  She had hopes of working as a fashion designer but instead created a doodle of a woman who had a face and curls, that became her signature on cards and notes that we all still have and treasure. It always reminded me of the cartoonist Al Hirshfeld who drew Broadway for the New York Times and always included his daughter Nina’s name in his drawings.  I used to hunt for them on Sundays and see how many I could find.

I knew early on that it was not a black and white world both in scope and in art.  I never felt that there should be a choice between a box of crayons and the NY Times and all the information that I learned from the printed page and between the lines. My father would buy the Times in the morning and would be one of those men who rode the subway and learned to fold the paper just right so he could hang on to the straps of the subway car and read and turn the paper, so as not to bother the other riders.  We were not a Daily News family and in the afternoon he would bring me back (it might have been for my mother, but I consumed it first) the NYTimes and the afternoon New York Post for me to peruse.  Often he would tell me that he didn’t buy the Post and it was years later that I found out that the cover page might have had something he deemed gory or disturbing and the paper never made it into the apartment.    He told me that he felt it was his role as a parent to censor what I read.  Looking back, I can appreciate a parent whose role was to protect me from the media and  the darkness, until I was old enough to understand.  I am not sure I am yet old enough or will ever be old enough to be able to understand any of what the world is about.

Not having money didn’t mean we didn’t have access to music and art.  Both my sister and I were given many opportunities to visit the museums of New York and beyond and to develop a knowledge and appreciation for paintings and sculpture.  Even now I recognize that it is not necessary to own a Van Gogh (not that I would throw it out if it appeared at my door) to recognize its beauty and depth, and the artist’s pain and emotional journey.  Wealth is often having the opportunity to be around great things without the responsibility of ownership.  Time passed by and one birthday (I believe it was my 30th and I was already a mother) I received a gift which I didn’t expect.  My mother wrapped my box of “64” Crayolas with the sharpener in the back, and presented it to me.  I was flabbergasted (another underutilized word) and touched.  It taught me that it wasn’t at all about not being heard many years earlier, but learning to know when the time is right, especially with children.  I imagine our circumstances were not as dire as I might have thought.  I learned to make colors in my imagination that went way beyond the box.  My mother might have known that I might not have found that out if I limited myself to only “64”.

 

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The Stubborn in Creativity

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Playing hide and seek with inspiration can be exhausting.  There are many things that my wishing to be able to do them, doesn’t make it so.  Flying a plane, walking a tightrope or a plank, swallowing fire….things I ponder and reject pretty quickly.  Singing the National Anthem at a Red Sox game, doing a voice over for a Disney film, making and baking the perfect eclair, probably not going to happen.  Being in the right place at the right time for me is like being at the airport when my ship comes in.  However, I don’t stop thinking about how to achieve certain goals, and knowing that possibility includes the root of possible makes me smile.

I accept that I am not conventionally brave, which rules out a lot of risky business.  It is mostly the physical pursuits that are elusive and practically, I don’t want to hurt myself, so I avoid them.  Spending time imagining is often the path to exploring my creative side.  This in concert with my stubborn (tenacious) abilities makes me want to try things that I have in my head.  Translating them from idea to reality is often frought with dogged arguments with my FHB.  We are often on opposite sides of the seesaw. I say PoTAHto and he says PoTAYto.

In December of 2015, we went to Nantucket for the weekend. It was unusually warm for December and for Nantucket, having a bright blue sunshine-y day, on the 100th anniversary of of Frank Sinatra’s birth, made everything that I could imagine, seem like the perfect opportunity for inspiration.  We walked down the cobblestoned street and looked in gallery windows.  It was the weekend that most businesses were closing or preparing to close.  The local folks were relaxed as they headed into their winter to enjoy and prepare for the onslaught of tourists, but not for another four or five months or so.  Something caught my eye and I crossed over to the other side of the street and stared in the window of a gallery that was closed for winter.  I didn’t need to go inside and the proverbial cartoon lightbulb with lots of exclamation points lit up in my head.  There was a large installation of a series of battered and painted pie plates in a few colors organized in a checkboard pattern.  I fell in love with it.  My FHB traversed through the oncoming traffic (which was not much that day) and lumbered behind me as I waved him across the street.  I was shouting (which did not necessarily NOT draw looks…people are a bit put off by my often unbridled enthusiastic New Yorker rooted shouts).  You might have thought that I saw a celebrity or a rare bird (in which case I would be very quiet and shy) but this was something that made me react in a big way.  I turned back to stare in the window and saw the shadow of my FHB with his ever rolling eyes walking slowly , trying not to let people see that he knew me.  Sometimes it’s a curse.  Oh, well.  I pronounced that the object of my affliction (as my father might have punned) was this piece of art.  Deep sigh.  It was clear that it was an unrequited love, only in my eyes.  That’s okay because it wasn’t the first time, I was the one with a vision and he was the one with a headache.  That’s what marriage is about.  Giving and getting. I give headaches…you can figure out the rest.

This is when he says, in his martyred gentle tone “Calm down…talk slowly, you are babbling!”.  I am successful as I now have his attention and so I opine.  I explain that I have a plan for something that I want to create.  I see I am losing him.  Sometimes we don’t see the same things the same way.  Probably for the best,if the world was that way, one of us would be redundant.  Backtracking in time, I remember when I told him that I wanted to weave a wall hanging.  He is such a good guy. He went out and bought me a loom.  That’s what a partner does, listen and follow through.  The problem was, I didn’t imagine doing it with a loom.  That seemed way too complicated for my brain and too orderly and normal.  I didn’t want to make placemats….I was thinking big.  We had found a yolk for a steer at a flea market.  That was the top of the weaving.  I used twine, rags, copper wire,and a plank of wood and it was perfect (in my mind).  I had to rely on my FHB to help put it together. But it hangs in our bedroom, my interpretation of my imagination. He stares at it nightly. I smirk.

What I was inspired to do was to take a series of old rosettes found locally in a place that specialized in demolition and deconstruction of old houses.  It was one of our favorite haunts.  I liked going through the dusty, dirty and lead painted pieces of houses and found exactly what I was looking for.  I drew it out, I presented it to him to help me make it real.  I am not the practical one in our relationship. I am not precise.  I can’t always do it without help. I am also not so patient when I want it to be done.  I mixed paints, organized the rosettes and my FHB helped create the finished product.  Maybe it was the spirit that day on Nantucket, of Frank Sinatra singing “My Way” that led me to know that my stubborn would end up hanging in our loft.  When my FHB and I  met,for the first time, many years ago, I asked him if he was a fan of Frank’s.  He has always been  one of my fantasy hearthrobs.  He said “no, I don’t like him at all!”.  I remember thinking “this is not going to go anywhere…”.

Anybody want to buy a loom?