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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Mothering as Mixed Media Art

art gridCrayons, pencils, glitter, fabric, papers of all sorts, scissors, staplers, paints, pens.... the supplies, the process, I was in love... with art. From elementary school, art of all sorts was "it".

Art classes were never "missed" not even in high-school.. when, well--- let's just say that "class" was sometimes "optional" between chats and hanging out with my friends;) But art classes? those were never missed.

There were classic "general art classes" with pastels on black construction paper, perspective drawing with pencils and tools, painting with various paints, (tempera to watercolors to acrylic) soft sculpture, sewing, (this was back in the days of home-ec and home arts) architecture and pottery.

Then- there were the "other" fine arts. Music. (violin, guitar and year after year after year of choir) Drama. (Not just the drama between classes either- the real stuff- like playing a wench in "Princess and the Pea" and tiny parts in Fiddler on the Roof and some random play where I had to actually choreograph a "Can-Can" and then dance it.. complete with ruffled skirt!) As a side note...drama- is also where I met my husband, in highschool) Then- there was Dance. (Yes- with a Capital "D" Dance 1, 2 and 3.. all of which I was mediocre in, but loved. Then, Literature. I read ever big fat classic book I could find. And Writing. I still love writing. OIf it was creative. I was there.

Somewhere in my heart- I always knew art would be a part of my life.... but what would be my "medium?" I never could draw with style... Oh- sure- I could recreate "stuff" in pencil so it could be recognized, mostly. If you squint and turn your head just right. I just couldn't find "my thing." But, I sure tried it all.

I always desperately WANTED to sing like a star. (This was the age of "Fame" and I spent WAY too much time spent singing in the basement to my parent 8 tracks then cassettes.... yes- I'm old, get over it) But, I was much more of a "fill the choir rows, second soprano, can hold her part, but not sing solo" type. (However- it took me years to figure that out. (Smart? Maybe.. but quick, I am not) In 1st or 2nd grade I took my "Fisher Price Record player" up in front of the whole school and sang "Jack and Jill" in a talent show.

Violin? We can suffice to say that I was never that "First Chair Girl". Guitar? In 3 or 4th grade I wrote a song (Summer Days, how original) and played it/sang it with my guitar, leg braces (lovely pigeon toed gal, that I was) peeking out from under my long, red and white checked 70's skirt in front of the whole school.... it was awful. And wonderful. I loved it. Even if the rest of the school didn't.

And then, I grew up. Classes had to be paid for. Not skipped. (Well- except for breakfast.. ocassionally) My plans became "realistic." My search went from "From what do you love".. to "what will make money?" (I eventually settled on a husband for that;) Kidding..... Kidding. Classes became "part of the track". Choir was for church, and art? Art was too messy, a waste of time and you know...for nut jobs.

In my early 20's I became a mother. And somehow, along with stretch-marks, morning sickness and poop cleaning skills, art, snuck back into my life. Songs were sung for tiny ears that loved every off-key note. Fresh green peas were steamed and whirled into fingerpaints. I mean dinner. Eventually, the scent of crayolas' came back into my life. Watercolors came out of hiding... afterall... I had to SUPERVISE these activities... didn't I? Music of all forms came back. Music I made, music they made (my 3 boys) and music we shared. (Although I still don't like "Queen", much ... umm... my oldest went through a PHASE... which is motherese for something you hope and pray will END) . It did. They always do.

There was lot's of dancing. Crazy, wild- abandoned dancing to Sesame Street or 80's tunes. Singing of songs we made up and songs we heard. (My husband often is our song writer..."the cheese danish song" is truly, a classic!)

There was art in everything.... on the paper bits in the bottom of my purse, crayons at restaurants, mashed potato sculptures and Lego architecture. Stuffed animals had to be re-molded into their original shapes with a bit of soft sculpture artistry. Somedays even nail-trimming was a feat of artistic ability as I told adventure stories to distract them from the snippers. (Which ,they were sure were really, legal ways for mommys to kill their children.) As a Stay at Home Mom... there has been plenty of art and creativity in meeting the budget. It's amazing how many things one can doodle from all those zero's in a checkbook... especially when they stand alone in little columns.

There has also been glue. Lot's of it. Glue to make things, glue to fix things. Even glue to suture things.. (and stitches too- but not recently- gotta love Derma-Bond!) All the art bases. covered. Daily.

Looking back--- I can see- art never really left my life.... it's always been there.

Mothering... is mixed-media art. Art isn't about perfection, it's not always pretty. It doesn't even have to make sense to others. It is creative, unique. It is a process of discovery experimentation and expression. Art is shared. And so, is mothering. I finally found my media.

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