Thursday, February 16, 2006

In Praise of Fine Art

Eight-year-old Alex announced yesterday that she wanted to turn the playroom into an art museum. Of course I gave her my blessing so for the remainder of the morning she and three-year-old Lucas worked on creating a number of masterpieces.

As I watched them painting, it occurred to me just how time flies. I wasn't much older than Lucas, my mother - an artist who spent many hours lost in her own artwork - took me in her lap and helped me create my first drawing, a nest with three little bird heads peeking out.

That started a lifelong love of art that has grown beyond drawing to include painting, photography sewing, and knitting.

Parents always hope they'll pass along some of their interests to their children. So far, so good.

When Jessica and Wesley were small, I taught them to draw using the same method. Today, 19-year-old Wesley still enjoys drawing and is very good. Jessica, 20, doesn't draw, but is learning to knit. Af 15, John is pretty good. Art isn't his first choice; he'd rather play his video games. But last year he did a nice pastel piece that I had framed for him.

I don't expect any of my children to ever become famous artists, but fame isn't the point of art. So long as they develop and retain a love of it, they'll be assured a measure of beauty and happiness in their lives. Anytime they've expressed disappointment that something they created didn't turn out quite as they had planned, I just reminded them of a quote I found inscribed by my grandmother on the back of one of her paintings: "Don't be afraid to use what talents you possess. The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang the best."

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