Friday, September 12, 2008

Doodles and Scribbles

Here is one more piece in the Hand series. I should probably officially name it something more poetic, like "In the Palm of My Hand," or "Held in My Hand." Eh. Let me think about it. Right now, it's obvious it's a hand. So that's what it is.

This new piece is a collage using a painting that baby Ivy did. Crayola watercolors and Crayola markers on plain old white paper. Actually, I helped her paint. Sometimes it motivates them if I start a drawing out with a circle or a smiley face or a monster or a spiral. So those spirals you see there are my beginnings for her painting, which she then went to town on. I traced my hand and cut it out and then pasted it in my journal. And then filled the background doodles in plain old black ink.

It looks like it is just doodles and scribbles, but this was kind of an important piece for me. This is being mom. This is being more than being mom, it's being me. It's being an artist.

Symbolically speaking, I took my life as a mom, with my daughter's painting, and recognized that this is my life. That is why it is the hand. This is not only the life I have, this is the life I make. It is my story, as much as it seems that I have deferred my story for the sake of my children's stories. Can I make art of my life with babies? Yes. It is not as simple as it was when I was single, and would doodle a whole page while I was sitting in meetings or talking on the phone. Now, I barely have time or a free hand to doodle. If I try while there are kids about, they want to be in on it.

But that part of me, the freely creative, casually art making, passionate and dedicated thinker part, she hasn't gone away. She's still here, or maybe it's more that she has become me, who I am now. None of that intensity was wasted. Those doodles I drew are very close to what fills my notebooks from years ago. I reclaimed them.

I am right now, but I come from before. They are both part of me identity. There's really no point in missing the freedoms of being young and fancy free, and no point bemoaning the hard work of raising two young children... that, too will inform who I am to become.

Life is interesting. It is not one single painting that defines you. It is the string of painting done through out your life. It is the stream of artifacts you have left behind. It is the list of actions and choices you have made. It is a river and it doesn't stop moving, even when it seems to have been bogged down in the swamps.

I have been out of it for a few weeks. Stumped and unmotivated and not really wanting to work my way back into productivity. Some of it was external, but some of it was internal.

Something has lifted though, since then. I don't know what it is or what caused it. My brain has begun working again in a manner that it hasn't for three or four years. I am thinking up new projects. I am planning activities with the kids. I am filling my journal with paintings.

It's almost bizarre. For the first time in a long time, I actually have a back log of posts. I have pictures to post, some of paintings some of creative activities that I am doing with the kids.

This is the thing that is the weirdest for me. I have a degree in education. I wrote my thesis on integrating creativity into education. I was famous for artsy projects to help kids learn, sometimes even adults. And yet, with my own kids, I did almost nothing. I had no ideas, no motivation.

All of a sudden, I want to make cardboard robots and pop bottle piggy banks and I want to grow sweet potatoes in jars and make silhouette drawings of the kids and collage with them and melt ice with warm water and go on nature walks to make charts.

What the heck???? Am I finally coming back? Is it because I have been working slowly and steadily at bringing me back? (Those Hand paintings have served before as a ladder back to myself.) Is it because I allowed myself to STOP being creative and just rest and read and relax? Is it just a coincidence that my youngest just turned 18 months?

Hmm. I am actually a big believer on the toll that having kids takes on moms minds, spirits and bodies. I had no idea before how truly demanding it was. The hormones, the exhaustion, the attention. And maybe it also takes a while to learn the ropes of this mom thing. Whatever it is, I'm glad something has broken through, and I hope that by writing about it, I do not jinx myself. I am a big believer in jinxing, too. So.... *knock on wood.*

6 comments:

mapelba said...

I don't know if we ever learn the ropes of this mom thing--at least not while they're young enough for it too matter. But great job on the art. It is inspiring to see someone else find their voice--whether in writing or in making art.

Christy said...

I love your hand series! I'd say rock on and keep the flame of creativity alive. :)

Karen Mowrey said...

Rowena, First, I am loving your hands, they are all truly unique as are you.

Next, I believe it is called "baby coma" and initially it we even referred to it as "baby prison" for the first 3 months. There is no doubt love is always there but the toll it took was an adjustment for sure. It moves very fast and I see you are surfacing again and the more you become you the more you children will become your biggest fans. They will be your muses. The more they see you taking time to create in front of them the more they will be forced into entertaining themselves and experimenting with their own imaginations. It is as beautiful to watch them as it is for them to see you. Being creative whether with them involved or for their observation will have the same positive effects, enviable to many moms.

...by the way, isn't 18 months soooo different from 12 months?

Erica said...

Beautiful painting, beautiful post!

I hope I am like this in ten years - it gives me hope. In fact, it makes me excited for kids in a different way.

Nicky Linzey said...

I haven't come across your blog before and now I have! This is a beautiful painting and I love your writing too. I think there are stages of creativity, sometimes we are very creative and sometimes we are not and when we're not we must just let this be, it will come back again in its own time.

Rowena said...

Hi Nicky, Welcome! I agree that there are stages of creativity, and we should let this be... by which I mean not beat ourselves up. But I can't help taking steps to get my creativity back. Maybe I am afraid it won't come back. I worked hard to get to this point!

Hi Erica, glad you found me. There are actually benefits to motherhood beyond just having kids. It changes something inside of us in ways I haven't figured out yet. But it is a LOT of work, and a loss of freedom (at least when they are this little.)

Karen, 18 months is SOOOO much better than 12. But then, we haven't hit the terrible twos yet...

mapelba, you have your voice, you just have to trust it. we can all see it. It's awesome.

thanks christy, I am certainly trying to flame on. I think the hands are helping.

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