Thursday, April 10, 2014

More Thoughts About Art


                I love when a theme runs through my life for a short time.  The subject at the moment is art.  As I wrote last week, I believe we all have creativity residing inside of us that if we are to express it in some form, life will be that much richer.  Well, Friday evening I read excerpts from a Julia Cameron book about children and creativity.  Here is a quote I especially liked.  “The act of making art is both scary and healing.  Art brings light to places that have remained dark.  Art brings perspective.  Making art, at any level, is an act of courage and an expression of faith” Location 495. 

                When my husband deployed to Iraq, the day after he left I went to a number of stores.  Once I came home, I draped red, white, and blue fabric in an alcove above the television.  I placed a number of 4th of July decorations on top of the fabric.  The display was very artist and soothed my soul.  Years later, when my oldest child left for BASIC training, I knew I would miss him terribly.  I removed all the items from his room.  With the help of my daughter, we redecorated the room with two new colors, a horse border, a painted tree and clouds.  The room is darling and helped me get through the first couple of weeks.  Because of my artistic projects, I was able to transition easier to the changes in my life.  Art is very healing and keeps the darkness away from me.

                Art education is very important for children.  “If schools do not, in general, foster creativity, then the responsibility falls on the parent to find these opportunities.  If art classes are not offered at our children’s schools, then we must find or create opportunities for our children to explore the arts” Location 403.  I want to take that even a step further.  We need to create fun art for them within the home.  Now, I cringe when my children want to paint.  I want everything to be tidy and perfect.  Over the years, I have worked very hard at letting them paint anyway.  I have spent hundreds of dollars finding new creative projects to attempt.  Of the three children, I have tried to teach two of them to crochet.  I have printed hundreds of coloring pages.  Lately, my youngest has found sites on the internet showing her how to draw her favorite characters.  And I praise every effort they make even if it makes me wonder what they are attempting.  We have been fortunate to have a good art education in our schools, but the teachers can’t teach it all.  I have built on their education to show my children how they can continue to learn and explore all areas of art: writing, music, cooking, drawing, pottery, painting, crocheting, and other areas.

                I also model the creative process at home with both successes and failures.  “As parents, we have a responsibility to model imperfection, especially if we are adept in an area that interests our child” Location 308.  I do this all the time.  My kids know I am not the best at anything I do and that is awesome.  This gives them the freedom to be an amateur.  “Amateurism-which translates to “for love”-is a wonderful goal as we urge our children not to be perfect, but to explore creative outlets for pleasure and for pleasure along, without the pressure of someone else’s “perfect” performance as the only worthy goal” Location 323.  My kids, husband, and friends still tease me about our pink house.  I was tired of having a drab colored house to come home to everyday after work.  I wanted a fun, unique color.  Boy did I get it.  I swear the chip looked like brown with a tinge of purple.  Coming home one evening after a day of work, the sun touched the garage wall in just the right light, pink.  My house was pink!  Failure.

Now, I do strive to do a good job on every task I accomplish.  I do not strive for perfectionism any longer.  “Perfectionism is not a quest for the best-it is the pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us we will never be good enough.  Perfection is egotism parading as virtue” Location 338.  Wow, that quote says a lot.  I also believe that when I strive to be perfect, I end up being a blocked artist.  Instead, I try to laugh at my flaws in all I do.  Now granted, I struggle with my flaws in the area of writing because I want to be great.  I want the world to read my work.  However, the other side of me will be happy if all I write for are my children.  I leave my career up to God, though I move ever forward.  But when it comes to my artistic hobbies of gardening, painting, crocheting, and the like, I smile at the imperfection of it all and enjoy the process.

                In the book, Julia wanted the reader to reflect on this unfinished statement, “If I didn’t have to do it perfectly, I would try ________” Location 343.  I have been putting off a couple of projects.  So this summer I will try making stepping stones, wooden quilt squares, wine or mead, and barbed wire art.  If you didn’t have to do it perfectly, what would you try?

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