Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Pictures in My Jam Blobs and Drawing With Ketchup...

It’s funny how getting something off your chest can make you feel so lighthearted! Today was a busy day of running around to the bank and post office, getting copies for a Hoffman order picked up at Staples to batch tonight during the American Idol results show after choir practice, but it all felt very productive as well.

This morning, once I got the girls on the bus for school, I made some toast to munch on while I checked e-mail. I know, I can hear the groans about crumbs in the keyboard! In my rush to get the jam spread quickly, I dropped a blob on the counter and then stood transfixed at the cool little whale shape it made. I was about to run and get my digital camera, when I suddenly realized how odd that might be to try to capture a jam blob in pixels. Was I going to show it around like some crazy ink-blob test to see what others saw? Maybe one of the things about being an artist is to see things in almost any shape or groupings of patterns. I can remember being transfixed as a child by marbled floors, foam ceiling tiles and linoleum because I would see all kinds of things in the random patterns of the tiles.

For me, that sudden, swift desire to capture what I’d seen and show it to others is one of the cornerstones of being an artist. It is the seeing of things that others might otherwise pass by... the way the light hits the surface of a texture, the colours, the shapes or the patterns of something in the world around us. I have a whole sketchbook that is pasted full of things like that so I can sit and look through it from time to time.

This is also one of the reasons that I always try to have a tiny sketchbook in my purse and a pen to doodle with. Once, when Erin was younger than Bethany is now, we were at McDonald’s eating supper and I looked up to see a spectacular sunset with a cloud shaped like a dragon’s head backlight by the setting orange sun. I searched through my purse and pockets in vain for something to draw on and came up completely blank. Undaunted, I grabbed a white napkin, stole one of Erin’s french fries and proceeded to sketch the cloud shape onto my napkin with ketchup. I left the restaurant with the napkin held carefully on the palms of my hands so as not to blot it before I could get home and copy the shape into a sketchbook. As I walked through the restaurant and out the door, to the puzzled stares of fellow restaurant-goers, Erin just sighed behind me and said in her loudest voice possible. “Mom, you are SO embarrassing!”

Artists really can draw with almost anything and see images almost anywhere... even in jammy blobs!

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