What role does art play in your life? What types of art were you exposed to as a child? How do you fit creativity into your life today?
My dad is an artist, so growing up he was constantly encouraging us to be creative. Anything we made with creativity he reacted to like it was a ground-breaking work of modern art. I have lots of sweet memories of coming home and seeing a drawing I did framed on my wall. And he was genuinely interested in what we had to say as artists, even at the age of 5. He respected our creativity and tried to instill in us the importance of having it in your life.
Our house was covered in his paintings, and I have some of his that I can’t wait to put up in our new place. He does watercolors, acrylics, woodcuts, you name it. Now that he has an iPad, he sends me things like this that he does with an art app:
My sister also became an amazing artist. She studied studio art at Cal Poly and had her own portrait business after graduation. Now she has an amazing Etsy shop with all kinds of beautiful original art and prints (Father’s Day gifts anyone?).
My sister can talk animatedly about anything while sketching an amazing portrait of you on a napkin that you will keep forever. Here is an example – she drew Anthony while we all had dinner at a restaurant with paper table cloths and crayons:
We have it on the bookshelf in our place right now, but I think I’ll frame it and put it up when we move.
Here is one that I did of Anthony for his birthday last year (he kept begging me to draw him, too):
Our very own Emily is also an artist, by the way. She studied art at San Diego State and can do amazing paintings. She has a ton of charcoals and sketches of nude models from school stored at her parents house, and I want to steal one to hang in my place, too. I will never have to spend a dime on art for my home, haha! I’m pretty lucky to have so many talented people in my life.
I went to art classes growing up in hippie studios in downtown Santa Cruz. It was great, living in a town so enthusiastic and unpretentious about art. It gave me a great outlook on art and helps me now when I talk to Anthony’s musician friends or go to new music shows with him. On a Saturday or Sunday morning my dad and I used to go to his favorite coffee house in downtown Santa Cruz together. He would get espresso and I would get a hot chocolate. We would both take out our sketchbooks – large canvas-bound books with what seemed like an endless amount of blank pages (no lines allowed – the idea was to be able to draw and write with no restrictions). He would take out his mini watercolor set and start drawing the remarkably interesting people that would sit down with their coffees. By the end of the morning he would have a collage of people: a man with a tower of dreadlocks on the top of his head, a woman covered in tattoos – you name it – all with beautiful, subtle watercolor highlights.
Another valuable thing my dad instilled in me is the practice of journaling. You guys have heard a lot about this when I post about my old junior high journals. Well once I became an adolescent I started using those sketchbooks less for drawings of funny looking monsters and pictures of my room with a swimming pool in it and more for my never-ending waterfall of emotions.
I would write a lot – just a narrative that was completely unedited, like I was talking to a friend. My sister kept journals too, but hers were more like prose or something – you couldn’t exactly tell what was going on or who she was talking about sometimes. There were just thoughts and letters that were never meant for anyone to read.
I would also sketch a lot, too. The words would go around pictures of boys I liked, real or imaginary. I used to sketch in class, too, on the margins of my notebooks. I loved to draw people, so having 30 models that were more or less staying still for an hour was perfect. However, once and a while I got caught and the implications were mortifying. Just because I was drawing someone in class didn’t mean I like-LIKED them!!! (If they were in my journal at home, however, I DEFINITELY like-liked them).
My sketchbooks became these awesome scrapbooks of my teenage world. I didn’t have a lock on them, and I never hid them, even though they contained the most mortifying things about me. My parents and friends were always very respectful of my privacy. I made it clear to any new friends that if they read my journal I would cry. A lot. But I would show them pictures or songs I wrote sometimes, careful to not carelessly flip a page and expose a drawing of a boy I wasn’t ready to advertise as my official crush yet.
I also played guitar in elementary school and junior high. In high school, I stopped playing as much and just journaled constantly. I would fill up one of those fat sketchbooks each school year. In college I kept journaling, but only when I really needed to process something – a break up, a confusing attraction to someone, a fight with a friend. I filled up one sketchbook over an entire four years of undergrad, and I stopped sketching as much. In grad school I played guitar a little more, and journaled the same amount as in college. After graduation I realized I wasn’t journaling hardly at all any more, and it made me sad. I want to know all of my inner thoughts and have memories of this time in my life. But what I realized is that journaling and sketching have a direct correlation with how much angst I am feeling at the moment.
When I am happy and settled, I don’t need to write or sketch or use as much creativity. I only want to journal and be creative to emotionally process something and collect my thoughts or to expel built up energy that accumulates when I am single or lonely.
That is why I am excited to have this blog. I can have a creative outlet that allows me to save memories and written thoughts forever, like a journal. I would so much rather blog than journal – journaling is just for me, so I lose interest if I don’t desperately need to process something. But blogging allows me to show people things and have a conversation – I get feedback and get to talk to Emily about making it better and get inspired together.
I think I mentioned before that when I wrote about my frustration with my perception of my body at the time, it instantly made me feel better about the whole thing. Writing it down helped, like it always does, but I think it helped more by being on the blog than it would if it were in my journal. Writing things down that you know other people will read makes you have to really believe what you’re saying. And that took such a weight off of my shoulders when I actually believed what I was saying – it allowed me to move on from it.
It’s hard to explain, but I am so glad I found another creative outlet after journaling was not as rewarding as it was before. I might pick up the guitar again, but I don’t see myself being interested in sketching again – I’m not sure why, but it kind of sucks. People get really impressed when you can draw something. Haha.
Now I think doing DIY projects and decorating our place will fill that need. And learning to take pretty photos for the blog and showing them to you all.
Remember, if you would like to follow along and write your own Monday Memoirs using our prompts, please include the link to your entry on your blog, Facebook, Tumblr, whatever, in the comments! We would love to hear what you have to say!
NEXT WEEK’S PROMPT
What brought you to your current career path?