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Saturday, March 21, 2015

We Can't All Be Rembrandts

Literal: The labor of one's own hand is beautiful

It's been pretty heavy lately here in Brillville and when I read this proverb I had a bit of a chuckle. So it felt like a nice place to end the week.

I became sincerely interested in art when our French III class in high school took a quarter off and learned about Impressionism and the styles and artists which evolved from the movement. The lessons have always stayed with me.  I took Audrey to the Met when she was 12 and I was interested to see how many of my lessons I would recall. I taught her about Degas' jockey silks and ballerinas, Monet's study of light, and how Matisse had gone to Tahiti for inspiration. I explained the folds in Cezanne's table cloths and I was able to show her the profound dedication that would be required while teaching her about the invention of Pointillism. I had always remembered the nickname "Seurat the Dot" but had never been able to see it up close to really appreciate the magnificence. I couldn't believe how much of it I still held on to from so many years prior. Of course, the story of Van Gogh and the possibility of his having cut his own ear off for having heard voices is the thing that excited Audrey the most. After all of the wonderful things we had viewed that day, many I had anxiously waited years to see, she picked a book from the Museum gift store about a guy because he had cut off his ear.

It was always important for me to give Audrey a genuine appreciation for the amazing talents people had been able to foster in their lives, whenever possible. We went to countless musicals where we had memorized every word to every song long before we sat down and then tried desperately to be quiet throughout the show so our neighbors wouldn't hate us. We went to the symphony and the ballet a few times, where, I do believe, one of us was way more transfixed than the other (wink). But she was always grateful for the opportunity to get dressed up and have a new experience. I am proud, looking back, that I chose to find the money to give her those opportunities in lieu of whatever may have been going on at the time. I know that their impressions were long lasting and will be passed on to my grandchildren one day. At present, they are being passed on to her fiance. I'm not entirely sure that he appreciates it quite as much as she does, but he is a good sport about it.

Sadly, however, I have never had a single knack for creating things of beauty myself. Audrey will still manage a belly laugh when remembering my attempts at creating her Madeline costume in kindergarten or making a simple alteration to a dress for a 4th grade play where I completely and literally ruined the dress. That poor kid!

When she was ready for a big girl bed I found all used wooden pieces of furniture and sanded them and painted them in the prettiest pastels. I had to get stitches because I got frustrated and used a razor blade when sanding became tedious. Then when she was in 5th grade and had to create a boat out of wood that would float for a full minute carrying 1 pound weight without sinking, I managed more stitches. We tried popsicle sticks, then toothpicks and finally gave up and got a block of wood from the hobby store and a wood knife. I managed to slit my own wrist trying to do a child's science project.

Repeatedly in my 22 years as a devoted mother I have been able to prove that I have no business building or creating things with my hands. There is something beautiful in all of those efforts, however. The intent truly was lovely. I knew in my minds eye just what would make something perfect and my heart wanted to do the best that I could. As much as Audrey has quite a few "Oh Mommy!?" stories, she also has memories of her mommy trying to do something special for her. And she never suffered for any of my creative failings, so I will call it a success.

CORRECTION: I did manage to create one thing that is absolutely beautiful.

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