Saturday, April 2, 2011
So Many Clouds, so Few Bunny Rabbits
We are a people whose imagination is limited only by self-imposed strictures. Some of those strictures are purely practical in nature, such as when my mother refused to support my majoring in art when I first started college.
"You'll never be able to support yourself making paintings", was the message. "Find something to do so that you'll always have a job."
My dad had gone into business, ending up working for Shell Oil company most of his life. Oddly, art was what got him in the door, he having been a draftsman for North American Aircraft back in the day when the aircraft industry was on the rise in Southern California. He took a job as a junior draftsman which sent us to Ventura for part of my childhood, got us our first house, in a neighborhood where I could walk to the library before I was old enough for kindergarten.
I read children's picture books by age three, and so have both my sons. That little neighborhood library had a single bookcase full of books for kids, and I read through pretty much all of them by the time I finished first grade. One of my favorites was an alphabet book.
"A is for Apple, big and red. B is for Bunny, snug-a-bed."
Children's books give permission for us to imagine tiny mice living in human-style homes under floorboards and baby bunnies tucked in cradles under handmade pastel quilts, or Italian hat salesmen barking their wares balancing towers of stacked hats on their heads.
I am rediscovering the truth of the fact that we humans are a species who can look at the clouds and see images of dragons, sailing ships, and, yes, bunny rabbits in their forms. Sadly, the strictures and necessities we live with demand that we (perhaps more often than necessary) get our heads out of the clouds and pay attention to balancing our budgets, changing our oil, or sewing on our buttons.
Maybe that's one reason why making art is so appealing. In this, my latest watercolor, I have taken the image of a real landscape (it does exist, in Sacramento, California) and tried to imbue it with a sense of the dreamy.
One thing I did not realize consciously when painting in the figures, just how narrative the finished work would feel. Instead of anonymous figures, they feel like characters. So, I invite you to join in some co-creativity with me: Who are these people? What are they doing? What's the story here?
It's the same kind of thing as seeing bunny rabbits in the clouds. Hope you take the time to enjoy!