Just Feeling the Art

The first time I meet someone, I give the “once over”. Not to judge – never to judge. I am interested in how people express themselves. How they combine accessories, gadgets, bags, and shoes with the rest of their clothes. You see…. I love fashion, art, creativity.

On my first day of kindergarten, I woke up early to piece my outfit just right. My mom (the forever crafter and seamstress in our family) had sewn my first day outfit the day before: a lavender pencil skirt with a large bow over the button closure in the back, and a white blouse with a Peter Pan collar. For the rest of my outfit, I wore white socks folded over with a ribbon trim (also sewn by my mom) and Mary Jane shoes. My hair was half up in a ponytail, with a large ribbon. I wore earrings and a charm bracelet. I don’t know if I was more excited to start school for the learning or so that I can wear this outfit, but I know that this was the start of my love of fashion and art. Fashion AS art, if you will.

I should tell you that I am one of seven siblings. My parents struggled, but we hardly knew this growing up. Dad worked all day, while Mom stayed home with us. To cut costs for clothing, my mom sewed. A LOT. Long before the days of the internet, Mom would join craft circles and get ideas for new crafts to try. I was the test subject for most of them. I’ve always admired her ability to create just about anything from nothing. For much of my life, I hoped I would inherit my mother’s crafting genes. But they never seemed to surface.

About a year before the 2020 Pandemic hit, I had a dream where I painted a large canvas and woke up with a deep feeling of euphoria. I just knew I had to get some paint and canvases and start creating. After work that same day, I headed to Michael’s and found a multicolor set of acrylic paints and a multi-set of canvases and paintbrushes. As soon as we got home, my then 7 year-old daughter and I started painting. I dipped my paintbrush in purple, and then froze.

I have no idea what I am doing. I’ve never taken an art class. I looked over at my daughter’s canvas, and she was on her third color.

“I’m just feeling the art, Mom. I don’t know what I am doing, but I am just doing it,” she said.

I don’t know what I am doing, but I am just doing it.

Man, my kid is smart. These words became ingrained in my mind. But I still didn’t know what I was doing. Am I drawing a realistic image or something more modern? Something abstract? I decided to put on music and let that lead me.

I chose a documentary about Woodstock that was made up of mostly music. I closed my eyes, took three deep breaths, and then opened my eyes and started painting. I had no direction and no definitive end. I would just keep painting until I felt it was enough. Pink, green, blue, burgundy, black white. Wavy lines, filled in spaces, splatters of all the colors and more. I used a new paintbrush with each color, each style of brush stroke. As the paints connected with each other, I’d add a new color. Layer upon layer, I mixed colors, and added hints of another.

When the documentary was over, so was my painting.

I felt relieved, motivated, inspired, and most of all a release of all the stresses of my daily life. I realized there was something so therapeutic with this process. I’m a single parent who has lived in survival mode the majority of her life. My brain could not compute limitless opportunity or giving up control. Little did I know that releasing control to finally let my creativity express itself would also cause my walls surrounding my heart to start chipping away and cracking. Nor did I ever think art would create the door that would eventually open my heart up to love again.

And that, my friend, is a story for another day.

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