Enigma 1275: Back to basics - From New Scientist #2433, 7th February 2004 I have seventeen pieces of card: on the first is the number 1, on the second is the number 2, and so on, with 1...
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Illustration Friday - Small
This mouse and dancing wheat were drawn using a dipping pen and black Indian ink when I was in my teens.
And whilst looking for it I unearthed these as well. Not sure when I did them, but food for the mouse now...
Now seems the right time to explain why I don't call myself an artist, even though I have done so in the past and I've exhibited too.
My mother was an artist by training, and throughout my childhood we were encouraged to paint, draw and make things. We all responded differently. I used to say that "when I grow up I'll be either an artist or an astrophysicist".
I wanted to take art, physics and maths for my A-levels but the timetable did not allow it, so I had to take chemistry instead of art - poor substitute! Incidentally this was just a timetabling problem and 6 years later my sister was able to take art with physics and maths, which she has turned to good use as she is now an architect.
I envied her the course but not her eventual career. She is good at it; it wouldn't have suited me.
But I carried on painting etc. Over the years I've taken plenty of classes and read enough books that I think I've made up for not going to art school. So lack of opportunity is not the reason.
Back to my mother.
She had trained as an artist in Scotland. And later she worked in a studio and painted pub signs and at some point did adverts too. When married to her first husband (whom I never met) she even painted a mural in a church in Shropshire.
But she had already given up by the time she got together with my father. So it wasn't him or having children that stopped her.
She would, on demand, draw wonderful picture for us to colour in and later she was there to save a painting of roof tops that had become a mass of muddy greys into a magical picture of a church on misty moors. She let me leave my paints out when my painting wasn't finished though it was dinner time.
She occasionally submitted her old pictures to exhibitions but never got accepted.
Her artist self seemed to become permanently depressed. She did not paint anything new before she died a few years ago.
Hence I don't call myself an artist because, although I have other more productive role models (my sister, my mother-in-law and many artist-friends) the one I am most like continued to call herself an artist but stopped doing any. I prefer to forgo the title and just do the work (and play!).
Last night I realised that she had started to live her artistic life entirely through us, though she told me my sister had always been better than me, and my sister that she wouldn't amount to anything... These comments though hurtful were really reflections on herself not us. And being stubborn types we only carried on anyway!
I also allowed myself to fully appreciate the person she had been before she subdued her artist self. She was brave, strong, adventurous and charming - now these are all wonderful qualities that I would like to have too!
If this was Hollywood I would probably now say and yes I am an artist!
But its not. And there is another reason...
I just prefer not to have a label.