Friday, February 9, 2007

My Answer To My Sister

Hey there,

I’m glad you’re into the creative process again with the sewing. I still think your abilities with interior design could be a pleasant—and very possibly profitable--experience for you even though it may seem late in life. Despite your commitments with all the children/grandchildren, your creativity is special enough to warrant a closer look. If you were to casually mention to friends and others that you can help decorate homes, you may well find a willing and supportive audience and clientele. I don’t think I’m telling you anything you don’t already know deep inside, Naneo.

Being willing to acknowledge the creative urge and then do something about it is a very powerful and natural step which few of us actually do. We are consumed by what we think is important and cannot seem to make a space for what we may well consider frivolous—our artistic drives. Yet, we are all artists and are so from our earliest memories.

Think back to one’s own original efforts at art or even to our children’s or grandchildren’s efforts. We spend a lot of time recognizing their efforts, praising whatever is put on paper or—heaven forbid—walls and even posting this art on refrigerators or framing and hanging it in hallways. Every child has this talent and we do encourage it as adults—for a while. Then, inevitably, we start telling these incredible prodigies how to draw and paint. We tell them that coloring books should have colors within the lines. We ask them to explain specifically what it is that they’ve just drawn. And then, horror of horrors, we start telling them it is more important to read and do math than it is to follow their creative urge. Few are avidly encouraged to follow their creativity since there are careers of greater significance than art.

I speak with some authority on this as a recipient of the directives described above. I remember very much wanting to draw and paint as a child. I recall Mom and Dad requiring me to set up my easel and water colors in the bath tub so that I wouldn’t mess up my bedroom with any possible spills. I remember wearing one of Dad’s shirts as if I was wearing an artist’s smock and even donning a beret to complete the look. Even though the art I created was important to me, what was important to them was how silly I looked in my costume. After all, their plan for me at 7 years old was for me to become a doctor not an artist.

I remember having a “paint-by-numbers” art set where all I had to do was match the number on the art with the number of the paint, fill in the numbered block and voilá! a finished masterpiece. Yet, all I heard was how much the oil paints smelled up the apartment and to get back to studying science because, after all, I was to become a doctor. I can still see the drawings of airplanes hanging in my 5th grade class room, the only place I felt comfortable viewing my art. I remember staring out the windows of that same classroom at St. Bernadette’s Catholic School, looking at trees and wondering how I could draw them well enough to be recognizable while the teaching nuns droned on about multiplication.

I can recall doing well in diagramming sentences in English class as I saw these efforts as just more art. I remember a Mexican boy in 7th grade who could draw water drops so realistically in pencil that I often wondered why the paper wasn’t wet. I admired him so that even in my adult years I tried to do the same thing and never got quite as close. I received an “A” for a geographic depiction of the earth in geography class, of all places, again because I considered the assignment one of art rather than where places were located.

Certainly, I have recovered from the medical path I was pushed into, even if I had to do poorly in every college class in pre-med studies just to avert that parental push. I feared a backlash from Mom and Dad if I flat told them I wasn’t going into medicine. After all, their hopes and dreams were that I would be the first one in the family to be a doctor, if only because I replaced Dad’s aspirations for medicine, interrupted as they were by WWII. I do remember responding to other adult’s questions as to “…what I wanted to be when I grew up?” with, “a doctor.” I remember the admiration they heaped on me for that answer and feeling good. I think I remember better how good it felt to be praised than what they actually said. I got so little praise or recognition from Mom and Dad for the things I enjoyed or did well. I only remember praise for responding to what they wanted me to do, for instance telling their friends that what I want to do “when I grew up” was to become a doctor. Anything else I did was simply a diversion from their goal for me: be a doctor.

It’s taken a long time to let go and let my creative talents come to the forefront. Whether it is art or writing, these creative urges drive my life right now. I can barely look at anyone without picturing them in a portrait. I examine facial expressions for clues as to how to portray people better. I read to glean a way of expressing myself better in my writings. I joined the Honolulu Academy of Arts to be closer to other artists, whether famous or otherwise. I attend various artists’ openings to see what makes them so attractive to others that they get a show of their own. I posted my art at on January 21st and until today, February 9th over 1840 people have seen my works, from all over the world. What I pray for right now is someone(s) to buy and launch me in the direction of my dreams. I believe that will happen. After all, 100’s of millions of people are on the internet, millions search for items of interest on the web, some of who are looking for art, a few of them for art like mine.

Watch this space for news!

Meanwhile, get quiet one day in your sewing room and listen carefully to your heart. Dismiss anything coming from your mind and just listen to your heart; it will tell you what you want. Then, take the first step and the rest will be revealed, one after the other. If you do this, ya just never know, you might just be hanging out a shingle that says, “Nancy’s Knick-Knacks--Woobies Our Specialty.”