I love making these miniatures of art, not only the easy ones, water-colored scenes or crosshatches or collages in airy washes, but the more contemplative, as well. Doing the former, I let my hand be taken by some idea that hasn't reached my brain yet, the image coming together shade by shade or shape by shape.
In the act of art, everything you are rises to the surface, no matter how simple the image it expresses. There seems little difference between what we feel and what, because of that, we bring into being.
|rising to the surface|
I am lucky to come from a family of makers, who know what it is to take an idea or vision and make it real. My mother, who liked art much better than any other subject at school, used to sketch in pencil on whatever scrap of paper was at hand; her art classes often interrupted by family needs or travel, she took her pencil and pads on the road and left a treasure of small landscapes, faces and still lifes behind.
My grandmother, who possibly never held a paintbrush, painted lives both fantastic and real to us in her stories. My grandfather was an engineer (as was his father before him and his son after him), an inventor of machines versions of which are still working under my cousins' direction. He was also a musician. We have all inherited those proclivities. My sisters, with otherwise good heads for the technical, dabble in painting or color and music; my brothers in music as well. Like both my grandmothers, my mother, aunts and their aunts were expert needle-workers. Everybody cooks. My sons and not a few of my nieces and nephews took to art, but they are also builders and inventors and fixers of everything from roads to films to funds. They work at thinking, designing, translating purpose into practice. There isn't one of us who doesn't know the feeling of putting hand to substance and turning it into something that feeds body, mind, or soul. In so many ways, it saves us.
As it happened, both the visual and the verbal unfolded into the piece I created this morning. As I sat back to consider what my work had wrought, I seemed at once empty and fulfilled, grateful for the art that allows such lifting of the spirit and to the people who, over more than three score and ten years of my life, have become so much a part of who I am and of what I make, for and because of them.