17 December 2015

Coloring Hearts: Coming Full Circle

It is said that what we are drawn to in our childhood is what we are meant to do in that life. My earliest memories involve color and creativity. My first foray into art was at the tender age of 3 when I redecorated my cousin's room with spray paint. Nothing in my cousin's room was spared-- even my cousin's dog Benji was part of the "Installation in Army Green". Spray painting his dog proved to be a misstep for me because when Benji returned to the kitchen with army green lowlights, it tipped off my father and uncle, who were fully engrossed in their cribbage game, that something was transpiring elsewhere in the house. As a result, work on my first objet d'art came to an abrupt end. After that fateful day, in order to keep tabs on me my father would draw hearts of various sizes on paper for me to color at the table. It was a win-win for everyone because my father and uncle could play their cribbage game and I could explore and experiment with colors. It's also one of the few fond memories I have with my father. Despite my predilections to art and taking art classes throughout elementary, middle, and high school, I was never convinced that I had any talent and often struggled to complete projects. Along the way, I strayed away from art.

As I've explored in previous posts, my return to creating art was slow. After all, the time span of the previous posts was almost 7 years. That's how long it took me to understand that an artist was inside of me screaming to be heard. It took a traumatic event to really push me in this direction and the turning point came 6 months later in April of this year when I set out to dye Easter Eggs with natural ingredients. After the mild success I had dyeing eggs the previous year, this year I prepared for the event and put forth the effort to yield greater results. I began the process on Friday night and by Sunday morning I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. As soon as I woke up, I bolted to the kitchen to begin unwrapping the eggs. I dyed 16 eggs thinking that if I were lucky I would end up with 8 good eggs. Much to my surprise, not only did all 16 eggs turn out well, they were beautiful. After drying them, placing them in a tray, and stepping back to look at what I had created, I did something I didn't expect to do: I cried. I wasn't crying tears of joy over the outcome, instead I was crying over the fact that it took me until age 38 to believe that I could achieve such an outcome; I was crying for the child and teenager who never believed in himself; I was crying for disregarding the positive comments I had ever received about my talent and for absorbing all of the negative comments and believing them to be true. Through those gentle tears, I released that grief and simultaneously I began to believe in my talent.

Collaborative work with my nephew
A few days later, my 
4-year-old nephew was at my house for the afternoon. At one point, we brought out the paper and the crayons and without thinking about it, I started drawing hearts for him to color. I explained primary colors and secondary colors to him and we talked about our favorite colors. One by one, he picked out the colors for each heart. It wasn't until we were almost finished that I realized the parallels to my childhood. After we finished, I showed him some of the artwork I was working on and the eggs I had made. When we came back to the paper with the hearts on it, I told him that I colored hearts like that when I was his age. He looked up at me and with a smile he said, "I know because you're so good at it now." I chuckled softly and said, "well thanks, little friend, it has taken me a long time to get here."

The unadulterated mind of a child can reveal the truth if we pay close attention. Their observations are honest and invaluable. Between my nephew's comment and remembering my observations and experiences as a child, I began to decipher the great mystery as I understood that art is my destiny.

All current artwork can be found in my profile at Fine Art AmericaThank you for your time and your support.

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