Sunday, June 29, 2008

Please Don't Tell PETA

#173 - Draw something from memory

I've been working through Julia Cameron's excellent book Vein of Gold. One of the major tasks is to analyze and write about my past. Questions are posed to help with the process. One is, what was your favorite toy, game, or pastime at ages one to five? I had an obvious answer.

My mother was a child of the depression, you see. It seems the trauma she never got out of her system was not hunger or homelessness, but a terrible lack of dolls. Ergo, she bought all of her daughters dolls aplenty, whether we liked them or not. I certainly didn't. Why would I play with something so stiff and lifeless when, as a farm kid, I was surrounded by lovely furry animals? The accessories were cool, though. And if God didn't intend for doll dresses to be put on baby cats, why did he make them perfectly kitten-sized?

I won't go so far as to claim the little furballs liked this game, but my older brother tells me he was clawed and bloodied whenever he attempted a rescue, and once undressed they would often run straight back to me for a change of costume. To this day he calls me "The Cat-Whisperer."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Is It a Case of Either, Or?

#125 -- Draw a bird

I always thought once I stopped working, I would easily and automatically return to the easel. But then, I helped build our retirement home in the country. Afterwards I was compelled to grow things and raise some critters. I evolved into what my relatives back in the Cornbelt scathingly refer to as a "pretend farmer." I drove a little Mazda "pretend" pick-up truck to the feed store to buy supplies for my "pretend" livestock (dwarf rabbits, call ducks, and fancy booted bantam chickens, all of which were given their own names, and subsequently never treated as actual agricultural product!) A decade passed in a gentlewoman farmer's dream, with seemingly no time for art, when I stumbled upon a quotation that really got under my skin.

This is attributed to Anna M. (Grandma) Moses - "If I didn't start painting, I would have raised chickens." Around this same time, I'd been trying to analyze what kept me from picking up the brush and under my list of "energy drains" had suddenly popped up my beloved poultry collection. Could this quote work in reverse as well? It didn't happen overnight, but slowly I divested myself of the flock right down to the last, this little black and white Frizzle rooster. He was just so skittish and shy I could never catch him to be sold down the river. In the years he spent as our only chicken I always felt bad because lack of female companionship had reduced him to the sad and hopeless habit of courting wild lady doves.

This January a road crew was working near our house, and the noise scared little Cochise so badly he ran away from home. Over on the next block, he found just what he had been longing for - hot chicken women!! - and it didn't take him long to decide on a permanent change of address. I do miss him, but about that same time I began a slow but sure return to the studio. Coincidence? I'm really not sure.