Tag Archives: art

Art Understanding

Standard

Be brave and show your colors! Source:Ticktacktoeleb.com

Be brave and show your colors!
Source:Ticktacktoeleb.com

I started my second painting class last weekend. I have newly discovered the joy and release of painting using acrylic on canvas. Placing myself with paintbrush in hand in a completely new environment at the age of 36 has been so refreshing. It’s a new way to open up creatively, throw myself off balance and choose to become vulnerable thus learning more about myself in the process. Surprisingly, it has revealed a little more about my parenting style. Painting has shown me that one of the hardest things to achieve as a parent is to let your children experience the world in their own way without introducing any of our own biases or opinions. My work is my interpretation of the world. It can be judged but the critque will not change the facts and emotions behind my experiences. My children deserve the same from me. I should allow them the experience, encourage full artistic licence and make no apologies for what they create.

My class has about 6 participants of all ages and most of us are beginners. This means we are still finding our creative voice and feeling out of place. Still lacking confidence and quick to judge our own work, it is common to hear across the room at any point, “Ooops, I think I did it wrong!”. This statement made me think about how my children approach art. When my son was 2 or 3, he showed his own interpretation of the world in his visual art with no apologies made for colors, shapes or sizes used on his impressions. But once he began to join social groups and hear critiques of his work, he would also begin to judge his artwork. That head on the dinosaur is a bit small or the lake is not the right blue. Outside opinion became influential, so I became aware of my own judgements in this manner. I have to remind myself that art is interpretation and shows glimpses of how we see the world. There is no right or wrong. Expect variety and difference.

Being the recovering perfectionist that I am (see blog post here for details) , I had previously had moments of conflict while helping my children draw or color. I used to look over my children’s works of art and feel a compulsion to add or direct color use. I would even embellish pictures after they completed them! You may have experienced similar compulsions or you may think I am a complete control freak. Either way, we can learn from this ridiculous tendency.

I believe there is great value in teaching our children that their thoughts and impression are valid, regardless of popular opinion. Through art, we can teach that not everyone will agree with what they see and feel, but that does not make their experience any less significant or important. If, as parents, we embrace their works with empathy and share our past experiences of harsh judgement, we can create a strong bond of solidarity and teach shame resilience. We can teach strength, compassion and kindness.

So when someone in my painting class announces they have screwed up….I  like to grab these moments to shout out…. “Not wrong! Just different!”. We usually have a giggle, but it lessens the judgement. It opens up our ability to use different blends of color, paint a sky with a few extra clouds, or sketch a skyline with a few extra peaks. Creative freedom found in a world where we feel constrained and must ‘fit in’. This support of being different helps us to feel conviction in our work and confidence as we press on. Such feelings I would be thrilled to pass on to my own children.

CB

Advertisements

“Balance and fall prevention for Seniors”

Standard
Any style, any time. Photo: artandsoulcanada.com

Any style, any time.
Photo: artandsoulcanada.com

I am back in the dance studio again. There are not many places in this world that I have this reaction to. When I walk into a dance studio, I feel alive. I feel nervous, light, eager, whole and centered. It doesn’t matter what kind of class it is. Dance is dance. The expression of what I feel through my body, be it celebratory, heart-breaking or passionate. It is life.

My return to the studio is taking place in an adult contemporary class. Our weekly class routine consists of an intense, mommy-chub-busting warm up followed by jumps and turns across the floor and then choreography. I couldn’t pick a favorite moment if I tried.

I am, however, experiencing the disappointment of a new inability to do endless amounts of turns across the floor. I used to be able to keep going forever. ‘Turn and turn and, turn-and-turn-and-turn and… you know the type. Spotting the wall. Crisp and perfect.

So imagine my great annoyance to find some bizarre spinning sensation at the end of the room to greet me. Holy crap! I have to fight to stay upright. Kind of like a good night out that was side-swiped by a wayward friend pushing the tequila shots. The happy moment is gone and WHAMO!  You’re left trying to keep it together and not embarrass yourself. The only saving grace in my situation was that I was apparently not alone. The other ‘adult’ dancers were feeling it too. Being all ladies and all mothers we pondered: Is this some cruel postpartum phenomenon or is it non-gender biased?

A detail from an anecdote of my husband’s glimmers in my mind. Something about a ride at the local fair that he took our 5-year-old on and almost tossed his lunch with all the spinning. So maybe this isn’t just a female affliction? 

I used our great accomplice Google to search this new, adult-onset dizziness and was greeted by a website with the heading “Balance and Fall Prevention for Seniors.” Oh nice. Right. Well I suppose that is the extreme case of what I am experiencing. Although I am far from a senior just yet.  But that heading does get me thinking about the mind and the body disconnection that begin as we age or are stricken with a disability.

I can’t help but think that if I were to practice enough, doing turns again and again, that this might improve. Isn’t there some inner-ear muscle that I can pump to give me super-spinning powers again? But that’s very unlikely. And so , I am left with an experience that is reminiscent of old days, yet subtly changed forever. But I am not swayed. Not even an inch. My physical being may not be as pristine, but my mental strength has never been so tenacious. In the realm of dance, particularly contemporary, emotional maturity can be fortifying. At age 14, my heart was relatively unclouded. It had not yet experienced great love and fear, disappointment and shame. I had not yet known immense joy or sadness.

How my heart feels when I dance Source: balletnews.co.uk Photo by Jason Trozer. Northern Ballet dancer Hannah Bateman

How my heart feels when I dance
Source: balletnews.co.uk
Photo by Jason Trozer. Northern Ballet dancer Hannah Bateman

So while I may battle with small challenges of the physical, my heart brings more power to the floor than ever before. A tiny fleck of gray on my canvas, hidden by otherwise radiant color. True art must come from the heart and as long as my body is willing I will write it a love letter every week to remind it… “Dear Body, Keep up! There is so much more to come”.

CB