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Getting in touch with your young inner artist

July 25th, 2010 (03:02 pm)
currently hearing: Frank Sinatra--High Hopes

When I was ten, we lived in South Carolina. Someone or some organization decided to put together an art exhibit in an empty house at or near the college where my father taught. Anyone could submit works, and I decided to paint something while watching my father go through his paintings to pick out one or more to show. I don't remember if anyone else in my family contributed anything.

I always loved it when my father painted. Oil was his favorite medium, although he also used watercolors, inks, and pencil. I liked the wooden box that held his supplies and his wooden palette. I liked the smell of the oil paints, turpentine, linseed oil, and mineral spirits. During the time I was making my "work of art," he was painting on these pressed wood panels salvaged from the back of a bookcase:

Easy to see whose technique influenced what I paint today, although I judge his work far superior to mine for many reasons. And at ten, I was much more literal. Here's my painting that hung in the show (my mother, bless her, kept it framed and packed away all those years or I wouldn't even remember it):

Tom also lucked out with a parent who's an artist, his mother. She, too, saved her children's early art work, including this one of Tom's.

I remarked to him how great I think it is that we both have horses we painted at age ten (both with suns in the upper right corner!). He said, "Yours is better." I disagree. To this day, Tom draws creatures of fantasy from his imagination. That's how I see this drawing: he took a horse and changed it, making it something uniquely his.

Whereas I can never look at my poor literal horse without noting he's on a painfully short tether.

This past week, on Bravo's Work of Art, the artists were taken to the Children's Museum in Soho and challenged "to create a work that is symbolic of the moment their artistic expression began, using only kid-friendly materials to create an adult masterpiece."

That's what I'll be working on tonight. Send good thoughts to the horses.


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