My How and Why

Since I'm busy for the next several weeks facilitating my 6-week e-course, Creative Alchemy, many of the women taking the course, have graciously offered to write guest blog posts. Yay! Thank you SO much ladies! Here's a new post by Sandy King Enjoy!

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You may know me. I am your neighbour, your friend, your mother, your sister, and maybe even your child. I love art and practice my art in a myriad of different ways.  I live my life through the lens of an artistic soul and I do it because I need to. I do it for me.  I tell stories, paint pictures, sketch in my art journal and smear pastels into my drawings. I make pots out of clay on a wheel. I take pictures of things that make me stop and look. I'm drawn by some inner force to capture that second in time. I point and shoot through the lens of my camera. .

I am not a published author yet, and I've never had a gallery showing of my art before. I don't have a name commonly bantered around in artistic circles. My phone isn't ringing off the hook with offers of art licensing contracts.  My email  'in' box isn't being flooded with companies or organizations wanting to show my work or have me speak about my creative process at their next convention. There is no book launch in the near future and there aren't any journalists wanting to know if my current novel is going to have a plot twist at the end . I'm not a key note speaker at the opening of an art installation and I am not on any list of ' artists to watch '.

I sew.  I've hooked rugs, and made wall - hangings big enough to be room dividers out of macrame rope. I've hand stitched teddy bears out of old fur coats and made dolls out of cloth. I knit. I have a spinning wheel in my basement that I have used to spin and dye wool and then woven into rugs and tapestries. I collage and paint with water colours and acrylics.  I use bits and treasures that I discover in antique stores, pick up on beach walks or on walks in the woods and then turn into art.  I've twisted wire and beads into jewelry, dabbled in landscape design and been the only female student in a local college woodworking class.

But you don't know me and have likely never read any of my stories or seen any of the things I've created.  It doesn't mean to say that I don't want to have a gallery showing of my work or see a story I have written in print to share with others.  It just hasn't been a driver for my creativity. 

But you see me everywhere in your family and in the communities where you live. I create while I live life and there are lots of me's out there.

My grandmother's generation didn't work "outside the home" (unless they had to, or were forced to through life's circumstances ) .

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She is the youngest one in the picture above and is leaning on her mother's knee.  The year was 1914 and her father had just died.  Shortly after this picture was taken her mother became ill with the same flu that was sweeping across the country.  My great grandmother died and my grandmother became an orphan at the age of 3.  She and her sisters were split up and farmed out to unloving family members who themselves were in the midst of struggling with loss and suffering in the catastrophic flu epidemic that killed my grandmother's parents.

In my mother's generation a shift began…I am the baby in the middle of this picture above and I'm flanked by my older sisters.  My mother is 23 years old.

In my mother's generation a shift began…I am the baby in the middle of this picture above and I'm flanked by my older sisters.  My mother is 23 years old.

Artful education did not provide for paying jobs for her generation. Post World War II,  practicality was the name of the game.  Art didn't pay. Jobs that provided an income and a pension were the focus to survive. But it didn't mean people didn't express themselves creatively. The cost of going to university was prohibitive and pursuing an education in the arts, journalism or music for either gender was generally not a consideration. My mother and grandmother couldn't and didn't get a post secondary education.  My father wanted to be educated as a writer but that was definitely not a responsible choice for him.  As an only child of Scottish immigrant farmers who had come to Canada to make a better life for him, he was to get a REAL education. Soon there were three little girls and a mortgage to pay.  He married my mother, (who was 19 at the time) at 21. My older sister was born the next year.  But they lived artfully and I was lucky enough to be raised in that rich environment.  My engineer father became a full time writer and published author.  And my grandmother and mother spent their lives creating their art as they lived their lives. 

The incredible works of art and music produced historically while people "lived their lives" was not lost on my artful psyche as a child.  The hand-sewn dresses made by my mother for my sisters and me were unto themselves works of art. Household furniture made out of necessity. Beautiful and lasting. The necessity of the hand knit garment. Works of art .  They carved their expressive talents into the architecture of the buildings we lived and worshiped in.  Both my grandfathers were stone masons. I've seen projects they were involved in, and they are truly works of art. 

And the tap, tapping of my father's Olivetti typewriter lulled me to sleep as a child. He was driven to write, it was his passion,  but he had to squeeze in the work to be good and get better, around the commitments to his family.

I realize if I had spent more time investing in any one singular aspect of what inspired me artfully growing up, I might be in a different place in my artful life right now. I didn't go to art school. I went to nursing school.  But my creative spirit was always with me. Everywhere I went she came too. She and I would be curious to explore art in different forms.  Whatever supplies were needed to learn, to create. to make something, were scrounged and gathered ,and before you knew it, she and I were hard at it.  My kids were well aware that getting through security at an airport had an added air of suspense because I never knew what an unstuffed teddy bear looked like on an X-ray scanner until it was too late. 

And oh the stories patients told me about their lives were like stories from a book.  It was as if I was being read aloud to every time I went to work.  The rich tapestry of hospital drama. Yes, I was being fed creativity daily. 

The handworks I made in whatever form,  calmed me down in and around the challenging corners of my life.  I raised 3 children, all born in frighteningly close succession and there were some rough times. Of course, that's life.   When I lived in geographic isolation , my ability to derive pleasure from my art saved me. I made new friends on planes and ferries when another creative soul would see me bent over working on a project and come to watch. My world expanded. The portable projects of hand stitching were perfect for poolside waits at a swim meets. Long, lonely hours when the kids were young and gone to bed,  and my husband might have been working or out of town. Coffee and lunch breaks at work. Doodling during protracted meetings at boardroom tables later in my nursing career. My art took me into an imaginary world and had the gift of getting me excited about what I was going to work on next . Pulling me forward by an invisible line. My art kept me from losing my mind.  It still does.

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I've been learning lots lately about getting better at art. About showing up to practice. About listening to my artful voice. She has quite an opinion I'm finding! How I've loved the magic of the computer and how it has connected me to a community of likeminded artful friends all over the world. And I'm learning about being brave with my art and sharing it with the world. 

So if I'm never a published author or have a gallery showing of my art, it won't stop me from living my life in a different way. I create art because I need to. I do it for me.  

My mother and grandmother influenced me and I know my children and grandchildren are watching me. The possibilities are rich for them and I'm grateful.  It seems to me we are paying more attention earlier to nurturing them in a way that rings true to who they are and can and will be. Lucky them, and lucky me because I'm just learning too about all the possibilities that lie ahead for me. 

Sandy King
www.sandymairart.wordpress.com