Ours is a typical mother-daughter love story. Violet was born and I fell in love.
I didn’t realize I was an artist until I was 35. Even though I graduated from college with a degree in Fine Arts in my early twenties, I couldn’t bring myself to identify with the name “artist.” In fact, I still struggle with that label. Teacher, wife, friend, colleague, and daughter are all tolerable labels, but “artist” is challenging. It may be coincidental, but I gave birth to my daughter, Violet, at age 35. If I was able to add the label of mother to my list, the idea of being an artist was somehow easier to comprehend.
People told me that having a child would change my life. What they didn’t really make clear is just how much. As an artistic person, creating and the concept of creativity is a part of my daily mindset. I am constantly trying to figure out how to be more creative, and making art is a direct product of this process of creating. However, come to find out, having a child is the ultimate ongoing creation. Creating art is relatively easy compared to creating a person. Artists use materials they can hunt and gather, and put together in new and innovative ways. Creating a person is similar, but you don’t get to hunt and gather, or put your child together in any way other than how he or she came out.
Violet is a loving, funny, hardworking, beautiful child. She also has some developmental delays that have not allowed me to use any of the knowledge I’ve learned over the years as a teacher, nanny, camp counselor, or aunt to prepare me to parent her any better than anyone else. Come to find out, the only tools in my toolkit that have helped me along the way in child rearing are in my art-making repertoire. Looking at how to do things differently, or asking out of the box questions, and listening to my intuition and direct connection with creation have been what have aided me.
Yes, I know this is what most parents need to do, but do they? I can’t speak to that. However, I know that when I literally started to use my actual art tools with Violet, I changed. I set up the easel for us to paint, she on my left, and I on her right. Arm in arm, we create paintings together. She works on the background as I create the foreground. While we are creating, I realized that Picasso was right when he said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
My daughter has shown me how to claim that I am an artist. There is no real secret club that I need to join. I don’t have to overthink an idea. I don’t have to find meaning in every paint stroke I apply. I just have to link arms with the soul of my daughter and let her guide me into being who I was meant to be. She is an artist. I am an artist.