Artsy kids might seem shy at times. They might retreat into their sketchbook, or coloring book or picture book. Their christmas list might be filled with items like colored pencil sets, air dry clay, and anything with “Crayola” in front of it. And if an artsy kid grows and matures into an artist as an adult, the wish lists hardly change.
i was a super shy kid, always had my nose in a schoolbook or sketchbook. My family consisted of 4 kids, plus mom and dad, and we were all scholar athletes as was demanded by our parents. Not demanded in a bad, restrictive, “you’ll do what i say” kinda way, but in a “we want you to be all you can be and we think developing your body AND your mind is a good route to take” kinda way. The only problem was, that as much as i excelled in school, i never really got past “so-so” in sports. My siblings could all kick my butt up and down the court, or field, or driveway blacktop. i was a little jealous, but i was also super supportive of them. i’d cheer the loudest from the stands and be fiercely protective if someone knocked them down. Those 3 had a drive for sports and an affinity for competition. i loved watching them dominate their competitors. i was so proud of them.
But i just wanted to draw.
i guess you could say my childhood artistic inspiration sorta came from feeling like the odd man out. i needed something that was just mine and that i was passionate about, good at…something that spoke to ME. Art fit the bill. It should be no surprise to anyone who has seen my work that COLOR, and the possibilities contained within a box of vibrant new pencils were my muses. i drew clothes. i drew houses. i drew people. i once drew a picture of a hamburger ~ or was it a cheeseburger? And my Mona (mah-nah), my paternal grandmother, put it on the cover of the menus at her old-fashioned soda-shoppe type luncheonette. She was so proud. i was so proud. She bragged about me to the older gentlemen sitting at the counter an they’d nod their heads to appease her.
When i think back on my childhood, i remember more broad feelings and snapshots than i do specific events. But i surely remember getting a Crayola interior design kit one year for christmas. i remember getting my first sewing machine when i was probably too puny to even pick it up. i remember paint sets and big, blank drawing tablets. i even remember sitting on the beach during one family vacation, sculpting figures in the sand with all my concentration while my siblings dunked each other in the surf. It was totally ok. Being the odd man out provided me with a quiet space in which to create and dream. It gave me my own unique voice. It lead me to enter and occasionally win little art contests for kids. It made me feel like i had something special to offer.
…and every once in a while i’m pretty sure those lovable, knucklehead siblings of mine were pretty proud of me.