Sunday, January 13, 2019

My Most Valuable Paintings

A few months ago I was looking for a photo on my computer and I came across a series of snapshots that I had taken of my two kids about 5 years ago.  The room they are sitting in was towards the front of our little house, bathed in morning light that was creating a striped pattern on the wall.

Both kids were engrossed in their personal activities.  Ari was writing in her notebook, a habit that continues to require a NEW NOTEBOOK EVERY TIME WE GO TO THE DOLLAR STORE.  I keep thinking that there is NO WAY the child could use another notebook, but occasionally I attempt to find the floor of her room, and as I organize her numerous notes, I see that she, indeed, uses every single one...dozens of to-do lists and planning and yarn types and shopping lists and weekend activity plans.  It's not exactly snooping...but it does give me a delightful peek into her motivated 11 year old mind!

(detail of the new painting...forgive the wet paint glare!)

Jack was at his usual spot, the head of the table, Master of The Coffee Table Domain.  Various creatures of all shapes, colors, sizes (and expressions!) were at his every command.  Sound effects poured effortlessly from his cheeks, and warriors changed outfits and weapons and tactics moment by moment.

To me...pure heaven.  Not an electronic in sight.  Colors everywhere.  Chaotic bliss.  Relaxed...everyone getting to Be Themselves.

I started the painting, my heart beating with excitement over the patterns and colors that I couldn't wait to translate into paint on canvas!  I also thoroughly enjoy painting my children, as I have many many times before.  Not having them 24/7 is tough.  So.. sitting in my studio, painting their faces, I constantly send them love and good thoughts.  In that way I am always with them.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I really enjoyed Alain de Botton's lecture "Art as Therapy".  Listening to it as I painted this most recent portrait of my children, it really impressed upon me WHY I was so motivated to paint this picture at this time.

Alain de Botton stated (forgive my paraphrasing)

 "If we had a better memory, we wouldn't need art.  We forget stuff.  Particularly, valuable stuff.  A work of Art becomes valuable the more that it captures something significant.  The more fragile the moment is, the more valuable the art is because it's touching on something that otherwise we can't put a finger on"

I LOVED HEARING THIS as I was painting this particular moment!!! It is difficult to put into words the warmth, pride, joy, love, delight that was flowing through me 5 years ago.  And unfortunately the last two years have just been a constant war on me as a mother, so much so that there were times that I questioned if I had done ANYTHING right!  But this moment reminded me that I did A LOT right.  I am a good mom.  I look back at all their pictures now, not with a sense of sadness or  regret, but SO much pride and joy!  I nurtured their individuality, their reading skills, their creativity, their sense of adventure, their HUMOR...I really could not be prouder of my two awesome kids.

THIS is why Art can be so important!  Time heals a lot of things, but can also distance you from some of the good stuff from long ago as well.  Difficult times, hard feelings, can cloud our perspectives... and memories - especially good ones - can get lost in the shuffle.

So, according to de Botton, what DOES Art do for us?

There are three key things...

1.  Art compensates for the fact that we have really bad memories.  (99% of my commission work has been created to commemorate good times and good vital to immortalize!)

(Portrait of Ari about aged 5, holding a baby bird)

2.  Art Gives Us Hope.  (For me, this means that you honor good moments to inspire even more! I don't paint something beautiful thinking it's going to be the LAST good moment...I paint out of the delight for every beautiful moment that's going to inspire me next!  What's more hopeful than appreciating beauty all around?)

(Jack, aged 11, at a festival in Downtown Atlanta)

3.  Art re-balances us.  Art connects us with the missing bit of us.  Art opens our eyes to the neglected value of the every-day.  (oh my goodness those three points hit me hard!!! Painting re-balances me in ways that I'll need 11 blog posts to explain.  It's my therapy!  This particular painting really reminded me of GOOD times I spent with my kids.  It balanced my perspective at a time I needed it most.  And this painting was connecting me with my son..we have very little time together, and just sending the good vibes and love to him during the process has helped me fill the hole in my heart.  And this precious moment was VALUED by me so much!  I've never been a really big "pose perfectly with your hair brushed and clothes perfect" kind of mom.  I thrive on capturing my kids as They Are...and this every-day moment has more value than any perfectly crafted pose)

(Ari reading, around age 2)

It has always been my greatest pleasure to paint portraits and commissioned work that captures so much of the points above.   I am so appreciative of Alain de Botton's lecture which helped me put those feelings into words!

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