Snowflakes in a Row -
My Journey into Art, by Linda Moran, Milton Artists' Guild
reprinted with permission of the author
Most folks of a certain few decades can tell you exactly the moment in art class when the criticism made them say “I can’t do Art.” For me it was in second grade with Mrs. Harrah. It was a “cut and paste” winter drawing. Now keep in mind I spent my formative years as a pretty timid, linear person. It didn’t occur to me not to make my snowflakes into perfect rows. Even then I loved symmetry.
I was told quite sternly that snowflakes didn’t fall in straight rows.
That was it — I was paralyzed for life….
Not really, but it took a LONG while to get over that comment and begin to develop an artistic voice. I couldn’t experiment and “just draw.” I had to know what it was going to look like before I started. At age 12 I did a pen and ink drawing for my dad for Christmas of a winter scene from a holiday card. It looked pretty darn good — he had it framed, and I still have it. Keep in mind pen and India ink (you filled the pen as you ran out) is a very unforgiving medium.
I received a “how to” cartoon illustrations book one year, and I sat on the front step with my charcoal sticks creating cartoon characters. Talk about another unforgiving medium…but they all looked pretty much like the picture…just don’t ask me to draw a character from memory.
I was terrified of art class in high school, but I had a lesson on perspective that came out well — I still have the piece. We did an activity with crayons that we covered with India ink and then scratched a design. Loved that…something about me and ink…and my drawing was very geometric and symmetrical. The best thing, besides the ink, was having all these wonderful crayons. I still have my 64-crayon box in my supplies — perfect points, unused, ready. (Artists LOVE art supplies….)
Sewing came easily — made most of my clothes through college, and I drafted a lot of muu-muu’s when teaching in Hawaii. I even made my husband a complete leisure suit — shirt, pants, jacket, pleated pockets, bound button holes, zipper…I have the picture to prove it…somewhere…(but he would never give permission for anyone outside immediate family to see it).
Slowly I moved into crochet…knitting mystified me, and I didn’t want to compete with my mother — who was an amazing knitter. Then came needlework and embroidery, and then cross-stitch. I bought loads of patterns for pieces I would “someday” make and frame. Talk to any “crafter” and you will hear about all the unfinished projects.
In 1989 we lost nearly everything in a fire, and I couldn’t bear to look at cross-stitch again, so hubby and I took a tole painting class…kinda like the snowflakes…I learned what good tole painting looks like. By this time I was hooked on Saturday mornings with Bob Ross, and I still have the sample painting from a class…notice the art hoarder in me?
I stumbled on a quilting class — hand quilting, and I was initially a snob until I found a rotary cutter and realized everything would go much faster. Then the unfinished projects multiplied because all of a sudden I was experimenting with ideas. I saw a book on marbling, convinced hubby to buy it, and we would make marbled fabric for a quilt….
And that, as they say, was the turning point. That was 1994. We started selling on the web in 1997 (steep learning curve, and the web was very new). I learned code because I couldn’t afford $3000 for someone to do a website for us.
THE POWER OF LIMITATIONS
One thing about this particular journey is that there were definite financial limitations on our art work — we were poor and couldn’t afford a lot of supplies, so we experimented with what we could do. Carrageenan is very expensive, and we try to stay with traditional methods. We’ve been invited to Turkey to work with a couple of the ebru masters....that’s out of our budget…but there’s always YouTube.
We embraced the limitations and developed our own style. You can tell our marbled fabrics from other artists. If it hadn’t been for the monetary limitations, we might not have developed in the direction we did. We also realized that when you work with a traditional art form that is centuries old, it takes many years to get good — took us nearly 12 years to realize our work was worthy of magazines, galleries, and books.
My fiber and textile art is exploding — too many ideas and not enough time! I have a big show in the Federal Building for 6 months, with some of our best large pieces — abstract, perhaps symmetrical…and yes, there is a black and white piece in the mix.
I still work in pen and ink, and the discovery of the Zentangle craze has been a lot of fun. “Anything is possible one stroke at a time” (Zentangle motto) kept me sane the last three months before I retired from teaching. I’m back to my symmetry in a haphazard form…anything but linear. I can’t imagine not being able to create — I just missed so many years, and now I can’t stop.
Isn’t that what artists do?
If you would like your particular artist journey spotlighted - tell us how you arrived in your art - please leave a comment after this post and I will get back to you. LM