To this day, I remember almost ALL of my childhood games I used to play. (I'm sure I'm not at all alone in this!) I remember I never stopped "playing," imagining all different kinds of worlds, scenarios and characters. Whatever I watched in movies or on TV, I immediately was inspired to go out to play it and do my own version of it. Whether it was Winnie the Pooh, Batman, Sound of Music, The Little Mermaid or even those blue faced Smurfs, to this day I can actually remember all of those games. Above is an example I wrote down a few years ago of a list that I came up with - it's 3 pages long! (read below of what I remember)
My mom was an elementary school teacher for almost three decades, and I always had to go to school in the wee hours of the morning with her while she prepared for her day. She gave me blank books to draw in and I still have those books I created. A favorite theme was a red-haired "Pollyanna" and her adventures through a series of several books. I loved illustrating them! I still have those books and as I write this, I realize I should post them!
Now that I am a mother, my almost 5 year old son, I've delighted in witnessing his creative nature and how it has changed over the many months from 2 to now. I remember the first time that he started to quietly play with action hero dolls. It was almost 3 years ago, we were at a friend's house who had older brothers so they had Star Wars action figures scattered around their house. My little guy went right over, picked two up and started playing out voices and interacting with both of them. Most of it was "I want to play with you," and the other one, "NO!", then "I'm sorry I would like to play with you." I about shouted out loud with glee - YIPEE!
So I immediately went back home and ordered couple action figures for him to play with because it was time. Now we have twenty-two! And one of my favorite pass times now is just to watch my kid play (how voyeuristic is that?!)
This is probably the main thing that I miss most about being a kid. We had limitless freedom to just "drop into a world" and play whatever we want, pick it up and put it down anytime, anywhere (probably why kids love video games these days!) where time just flew by. It was just SO FUN.
Now that I'm an adult, I see some similarities between this "playtime" and how I approach how to create my artwork. It has to be fun and inspiring for me. Something easy that I can jump into and out of without restrictions, time constraints or frankly, expectations. There's no end result. It's like playing within your own imaginary world where I am all the characters and I can make all the decisions. Some days I feel like making these kinds of decisions, other days, it flows this way or that way. But ultimately there's no one saying this "isn't right" or explaining to me why "this can't work out" etc. Just like a child I can invent anything I want, take it way, start over or repeat it over and over again. The sky really is the limit.
***** I do want to put a little tag line in here that making my artwork is not super "easy." And I had to LEARN myself how to get to this point with my artwork because getting my MFA in an academic setting I could argue that was not "fun." There are days though still, when things are just not working (and I'll post on that later). The myth that artists just sit down and "create" and it "flows out of them like honey" is just that–a MYTH. But I have heard various artist lectures about the challenge of creating art that is difficult for them, either subject matter or with materials, and working in the studio is a process of real "sweat and toil." It's HARD. I'm not disrespecting anyone's process or how they make their artwork because to each their own, and I get that. This type of motivation can be highly constructive. It's just that for me, personally, I could never do that. I would never make art now because it's super challenging and difficult. That's just not me. I would NEVER do it.
That's why I have loved working on smaller works, like my 100 day projects. (2018 series is still being finished this fall - since birth of my 2nd son happened in April, that was the start of the new project this year, I, understandably, fell off the wagon pretty quickly trying to keep up!). It becomes a daily practice - like I'm practicing piano. I can make mistakes, mess up, try things, until I get something right. No pressure. And for me, that's where it becomes fun.
THINGS I DID & REMEMBER WHEN I WAS LITTLE
- watch thunderstorms all night from my bedroom window
- be at home alone, turn up my stereo to full volume with my current fav soundtrack & sing songs at top of my lungs (a favorite around Middle School was Bodyguard soundtrack - duh! who doesn't want Whitney Houston's voice?!)
- playing piano for hours and hours with no one home (Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin)
- playing that I had a twin sister - I was eerily obsessed with twins
- when I was in 1st grade I went to a summer camp and there was a sister duo from New Zealand - I spent the rest of the camp trying to talk like them and swore I was a Kiwi native (LOL!)
- watching the old 60's version of Batman and Catwoman TV series "Nick at Night" and playing catwoman in my cherry trees in my yard
- playing Gone with the Wind, Ten Commandments (of course I was Nefritiri most of the time vs Mariam), Little Mermaid (in the summer with the water hose and birdbath), Robin Hood (Errol Flynn version), and Quiet Man.
- when I was 5, came home every single day to watch Wizard of Oz, then played Dorothy
- in 1st grade I had a cool bunk bed and on the top, I created a whole world based on Winnie the Pooh book illustrations. I took ruled school paper, colored with crayons and cut and taped into windows that opened and closed with different scenes outside (like snow), or full on cupboards full of honey and berries, trunks full of clothes and blankets and a clock. I was a chipmunk friend lived in my own treehouse. I wish I had taken a photo it was AMAZING I'm sure.
- i loved to draw and illustrate stories
- I was obsessed with eyes - portraits of people with stunning eyes
- I used to take cloth dinner napkins and American Girl Kristen's clothes to make elaborate medieval & Renaissance costumes for my Barbies with petticoats and veils (this was after I saw the 1960's version of Romeo & Juliet).
- 2nd-4th grade obsessed with American Girl Kristen and her story – my greatest Christmas memory was when I actually GOT the doll and I freaked out! I only got Kristen and couple dresses but that was enough. I still have that doll - an ORIGINAL American Girl (before they sold to Matel).
- 7th grade my best friend and I, Tricia, watched Kenneth Branagh's version of "Much Ado About Nothing" every single day for a while summer and religiously quoted the entire screenplay. We went as far as to ask her Grandmother to make us these white dresses with corsets like Emma Thompson and Kate Beckinsale wear and planned this whole real pinic in the "Tuscan landscape" in 105 degree weather in St. Louis August heat. We were only allowed to speak to each other in "Old English" (aka what WE THOUGHT was "Shakespearean").
- When I was 10, my favorite music soundtrack was Henry IV choral songs. When I had a bad day I would blast it from my parent's stereo sound system to full volume (swear speakers broke) and cry and cry and feel better after.
- My mom & dad loved music and that was the era coming off major musical movies that my mom grew up with. So I loved all Broadway plays. Cats, Phantom of the Opera (I played religiously with these certain Barbie dolls and Ken), Les Miserables, Oklahoma, Sound of Music, Bye Bye Birdie, Hello Dolly!, and Meet Me in St. Louis were all religiously played over and over throughout many, many years.
- and much . . . much . . . more!