I am fortunate to still have a mom that I can call on the phone and speak with. I am fortunate that I still have a mom that I can visit. For as long as I can remember, my mom has always been a creative and very artistic person. I never realized as I was growing up that her innate creative being had a significant impact on how I viewed the world, the arts, and everything that I ultimately did with it.
Mom married young, not long after high school I believe. Everyone during that era married young. Mom said that when she was in high school, Edith Head, a prominent movie costume designer, had wanted my mom to work for her. Edith Head was, at the time and for many years yet still to come, an icon in the movie fashion industry. She designed and created the clothing for stars of the big screen. From what I can remember of mom’s story, Edith Head had come to mom’s high school for an art/drawing session, which was no doubt an informal recruiting session. It was during that time that she saw artistic talent in mom and had soon thereafter expressed interest in hiring my mom. Mom told me that she declined the invitation because she wanted to get married and start a family. I don’t think mom knew it at the time, but that decision was pivotal, it was a sacrifice…for herself. Mom, and her artistic ability, could have gone far under the tutelage of Edith Head. But she had already met my dad, and the two of them had a future in mind. One that they had envisioned together and for them, was much more desirable. That was a decision that would have no doubt changed the outcome of my sister, my brother, and myself as children of the family.
I remember throughout the years mom always being involved with the creation of something artistic. At their house now, hanging in the garage, is one of two works created with tiny colored gravel. The gravel is ‘used’ as the paint in the piece where the finished piece is similar to that of paint-by-number. Only instead of paint, a different colored gravel is glued into place within a sectioned area. Above the washer and dryer, is a mountain landscape I believe the mountain was of Mt. Baldy, which is the main mountain they could see from the backview of their house where they currently live. I remember mom using a bedsheet as canvas for that painting. I never thought anything of the reason why, but now I realize she didn’t want any additional expenses added to our family.
The painting itself is not at all fantastic, but her joy of painting is clearly carved into the back of my memory. Her admiration of nature, and it’s mark of visual perception and interpretation are imbedded in my memory forever. I also remember an ocean view she painted using oils. This one was painted on a panel canvas, a hard surface with canvas covering. I believe this painting is a replica from one of the art books she had purchased. This one was pretty good, and I remember her working on that painting, and of the aroma of linseed oil and turpentine. I loved all of that and thought of it all as fascinating.
I remember when I was about 8 or 9, mom purchased a set of ‘liquid embroidery’ paints. Housed in old-fashioned metal tubes with screw cap lids, the liquid embroidery was essentially indelible paint for clothes. The liquid embroidery kit came in a set of colors, all that one would need to paint whatever desired onto washable fabric. I loved those paints, and their aroma. I remember all of it very clearly.
On one of my pullover shirts, a medium-colored blue shirt, mom had painted the face of Mickey Mouse. THAT instantly became my favorite shirt. Not that Mickey Mouse was a super favorite of mine, but I obviously liked the inanimate creature, and mom knew I would like to have his face painted on my shirt. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. I still remember what that shirt looked liked, what it felt like, what it smelt like. I remember everything about it. I LOVED that Mickey Mouse painted shirt.
I remember that one day the shirt developed a hole in the armpit of my left arm. I never said anything about the hole, but I tried to keep the hole ‘hidden’ for as long as I could. As a child, you think you could hide things from your mother, but there is no doubt that mom’s know everything and nothing gets by a mom unnoticed. I had a method of closing the hole by putting the index finger of my right hand into the hole and then pinching the fabric opening around my finger with the thumb and middle finger and then ‘twisting’ the hole’s opening in a clockwise direction. One day however, the shirt was gone. Not sure the actual reason, perhaps I had grown too big for it’s size, or perhaps it had developed too many holes at that point. But the shirt was no longer.
What I remember most from that shirt is not the Mickey Mouse face painted on it’s front, but for the magic it’s applied art. This, the same artistic magic that mom had created in my lifetime that led me to where I am now. I am in a place of full appreciation of the arts. An appreciation that transcends beyond what any one person views as ‘good’. There is no such thing as ‘bad’ art. ALL art is good, and all art is awesome. Mom is an artist, and so am I. Thank you mom.