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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Eat Your Heart Out -- This one's for me!

"Through her Eyes" 9 x 12 quick sketch of live model
I used to think my ex mother-in-law was an old fuddyduddy. She was a rock hound, of all things, who spent precious time polishing stones. She also made fragile sand paintings inside of bottles that disappeared in a heartbeat if one of them got pushed over. She spent hours in her garden. Her house was an absolute dust bowl!

On a positive note, her grandchildren adored her and gathered around in joyful anticipation when she started one of her “projects.”

I thought of her the other day as I gathered still more poinciana seed pods to add to my collection. “Have I reached that predictable time of life,” I wondered, “when simple things seem much more precious than the purchased junk we usually settle on to clutter our lives?”

Out of guilt, I did try to neaten up my seed collection; more for those who would look askance at my seldom used dining room table which is now covered with beautiful “finds” from the fields and walkways where I exercise.

"Mother and Child" 8 x 10 print
My ex mother-in-law had it right. She would rather spend her days in the garden and out in nature than cleaning a house that grows dusty each day and needs to be cleaned again and again to keep it pristine. She was part of a culture that believed frivolity and self-indulgence were sinful. Artistic endeavors were frowned upon.

In her day, she may have been a frustrated closet artist. Her stone jewelry and sand paintings were cherished by many. She emptied her heart into each piece and used her fingers to create things from nature that others may have considered useful and practical. 

There was no guilt in leaving her cleaning behind to work in the garden, to cull the weeds that needed tending to or the people at church or in her family who needed her. “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” she’d been taught and so hers were busy all the day long.

I feel closer to her today than I did back then when she scrutinized my habits and frowned upon those times of relaxation as if they were sinful. Today, at long last, I understand her. I feel a kinship with her yearnings; probably many of them unfulfilled. She would never have admitted it, but she was an artist in her heart of hearts.
"Siesta" drawing with digital color
The wasted moments of our lives do go by in a heartbeat. Soon we all grow old and in the looking back we wonder what we’ve missed? In hind sight, the tender moments spent with a child are far more precious than the accolades of others that are fleeting and fickle. The ticktock of the clock sounds louder with age, and we wish we could squeeze every drop of laughter and sunshine into that place within that holds them dear.

Now I watch the dust settle and rise on the furniture and the baseboards while I capture some fleeting thought that may burgeon into a masterpiece that only I can see. I listen to the critics and hold my tongue. Imperfect, they imply, but before me I see yesterdays trail of tears melting onto canvas or paper in a colorful crescendo of joy.

Eat your heart out, I think quietly; this one’s for me!
"Release -- my Trail of Tears" 24 x 30 canvas (side panels available)
Below is the most amazing works of art you’ll ever see. It seems like a secret the artist wishes to reveal to you piece by piece.