Monday, June 24, 2013

Creative Inspiration

I have been creative-minded as far back as I can remember. The creative juices as a child flowed as freely as my dangling feet when I sat next to my pépé at the long breakfast bar that took up the entire length of my mémé's kitchen. He was creative too, a profound carpenter, artist and "mental engineer" and he always had words of wisdom, encouragement and plenty of constructive criticism. (Never do I wonder where the perfectionist in me came from) My cousin Renée was often sitting with us and she and I would color in our coloring books with our colored pencils and crayons that Pep kept neatly tucked away on the top shelf of the coat closet. Every time I visited, he would almost automatically get up from the bar, beer-breathed with a cigarette stuck to his lip, pull down the art supplies, set them up on the bar for me as he proceeded to get me a butterscotch candy from the drawer on the opposite side of the bar. I always got excited when he did this, and every single time I pop a butterscotch candy in my mouth to this day (still my favorite candy) I think of these happy days. I remember when I colored trees different colors how Pep would lovingly but sternly state that trees were green. He would then show me how to press harder to get deep shades and to press lightly for lighter ones; it is how I learned about shading and toning. I never knew how learning this skill would play into my adulthood with the career I chose... but I use this magic every single day and know it's what makes me the artist I am today. He challenged me, corrected me when I needed it, and loved me all of the time. When I paint something or draw something on paper or canvas, which is not as often as I would like, I still sign my name in red because he told me that's what "real artist's do."

Many years later, another path of my creative mind blossomed when my sixth grade teacher Mary Roberts saw something in me that I did not; my love for writing and ability to express myself through words began because of her. I started by keeping diaries, then quickly fell in love with poetry which eventually led to writing song lyrics, being that I also had a strong love for music. As I ventured into adulthood I always kept a journal, some which I would write in every day, and some that my pen would merely visit when I needed to pour out feelings when there was simply nobody to listen. All of this writing continued and eventually led me to write and publish my first book. I always said it would happen... and I suppose I believed it, but to have lived it is a whole different experience.

As I look back now, I realize how lucky I was to have such creative influences in my life... and how relevant those moments and people are today. Those early influences help me realize the things around me that other people would never even notice... the beauty and meaning in things, the sentiment and special place things around me have in my heart and in my life. As you finish reading this tonight, I want you to think back into your childhood... who inspired you? Who in your life became relevant later on and perhaps inspired or influenced you? Whether it was actual "creative" inspiration or not, we "create"  who we are with inspiration... of all kinds. Don't let meaningful moments pass you by , hold on to memories and things that you are happy you held onto so that they can bring you back to special moments in your life. We are so quick to throw things away, to give things to charity without truly remembering sometimes what they may mean to us one day.

This is a painting of me on slate that was given to me 32 years ago by my elementary art teacher at the private school I attended in Massachusetts. Her granddaughter was one of my best friends from childhood and I posted this on her Facebook page today to make her smile after losing her father last week. It has hung  in every one of my children's bedrooms and currently hangs in Brie and Zane's room. There were many times when I almost gave this away... feeling it was silly to keep hanging onto. Today I was so happy that my heart never allowed me to let it go. The artist was also the woman who brought me home from church the night my sister died. She holds a very special place in my heart.

Thank you Elva for being one of those creative influences in my life.