Thursday, June 11, 2009

Life Sketches: Drawing Memories.....

"Memories flow gently through the river of life, scattering seeds of wisdom and history, creating roots to strengthen and encourage the growth of future generations. The simplest stories of our lives will remain behind as our richest legacy."
~Paula Stallings Yost~("A Fairy Tale" , don't you love the way I was practicing signing my art, just a little over the top! This has been matted and framed and given to my daughter as a gift.)

When I was a young girl I was always doodling on any scrap of paper that was handy at the moment. My mother would buy me these sketch books called Big Tablets. They were like a grade school writing tablet without the lines only thicker. I would scribble and draw on every page almost as fast as she would buy them. I dreamed of owning a real artists sketch book with a spiral binding and a real set of drawing pencils.

I would pretend I was an artist and drag my yellow number 2 pencil, blue BIC pen, and Big Tablet with me everywhere I would go in case I saw something sketch worthy. I remember once tearing out a sheet and taping it to the side of my grandmothers propane tank, this was my easel, and settling my uncles milking stool beside it while I sketched the old barn in the upper field. I didn't have any real artist charcoal to sketch with so I took a piece of charcoal from the barbecue grill and whacked it with a hammer until I got to a workable sized piece.

("Forest Friends" , I loved drawing cute little animals. All the sketches in this post were done when I was in the 7th or 8th grade.)

I sat out in the hot sun feeling the heat of the silver propane tank penetrate through the paper. The outside pad of my hand and pinkie fairly sizzled at every stroke. The pain was far out weighed by the joy I derived from transferring the barn from the field onto the paper. My uncle sat on the porch and watched the whole thing with great interest.

Fast forward a few months and it was Christmas. My Uncle Charlie, who was never overly affectionate but extremely observant, handed me a package with a twinkle in his eye. I opened the gift and tears stung my eyes, inside was a real artist sketch pad, drawing set, charcoal pencils, and a tin of watercolors with a real wooden handled brush. When I looked up at him my grin was as bright as the sun and he gave me a slow deliberate wink. Every Christmas after that one he gave me some sort of an art kit, paint by numbers, candle making, weaving, etc. He saw in me a need to create and he fostered that creativity by exposing me to many different mediums through his gifts.

("Shrimp Man", if I remember correctly this was a picture I copied from a fairy tale book.)

My mother often became exasperated with my sketching obsession as I ran through reams of erasable bond typing paper, index cards, and writing paper which were supposed to be school supplies but were never safe from my pen or pencil. When I finished my assignments I would sketch on whichever I had handy. I was often in trouble for this. Again, the pain of punishment was far out weighed by the joy I derived from drawing.

(This was a practice of a self portrait on erasable bond typing paper, not exactly the best choice for drawing on, I got grounded for this one.)

These days I doodle more with words on paper rather than pictures, but if you really think about it they are one and the same, these life sketches. One is visual and you literally see it come to life on paper as an image emerges. The other is mental, it paints a picture on the page that must be seen with the minds eye. They are both short descriptive summaries of what we see and experience in life. Life sketches are glimpses into our personal history that contribute to making us who or what we are.

("The Writer", remember those cute Holly Hobby like characters? This was my interpretation of one. Maybe she represented a little bit of my dream to write.)

My uncle was a farmer and knew a great deal about growing crops and raising cattle. He delighted in watching things take root and grow. He encouraged growth in the area of creativity by providing me with a rich variety of nourishment which rooted my love for art. He took great pleasure in watching my skills grow. I often gifted him with framed sketches that he proudly hung on his bedroom walls and took down for guests to look at.

(This was a sketch I did as part of an English assignment, we were to write and illustrate a poem. Mine was about a Native American woman weaving a blanket.)

The last thing he saw my hands create was an elaborate embroidered pillow that told a story of friendship with each embellishment that was placed upon it. I sat day after day beside his hospital bed stitching away as we talked and I really got to know him in a way I never had before. When I snipped the last colorful thread he gruffly said, "Here, let me see that." His rough work worn hands grown weak trace every design as he looked it over front and back. Handing it back to me he said, "It'll do." Which was as much of a compliment as I was going to get but we both knew that it held a world of meaning.

("Royal Rat", I think he was copied from a fairy tale book too. Does he not look like Reep A Cheep from The Chronicles of Narnia?)

My aunt, his sister, later told me how much he talked about that pillow and how pretty it was when she visited him. She said he was so proud of me. The feeling was mutual as I sat and watched him day by day valiantly battle a disease that inflicted pain and suffering without one complaint. You see, the joy he derived from life far out weighed the pain of disease. He just kept living, pushing through the pain, just like I kept sketching, for the pure joy of it.

("Flowers" is a sketch of flowers in my grandmothers garden, it was left unfinished.)

The very last words he said to me were, "I love you, too." They were to be the first, last, and only time I would hear them from his lips but I always knew they were in his heart. His deep silent love and simple observation of a little girls need to draw remains one of her richest legacies and most beautiful of life sketch memories.

Miss Sandy


Linda said...

... And here I am crying again as I read one of your beautifully-written posts.

Your artwork and the comparison between visual and mental art is lovely.

I too loved to sketch throughout all of my childhood and young adult years. My sisters did as well. I was more for looking at something and drawing it, as opposed to creating it from my mind. Every so often, I think about how I don't do this anymore, though once this past year, I did help my daughter with a school project and sketched a bird for her. The love of drawing is still there, you see, but the time, so often, is not.


Anonymous said...

I learned something today; you are equally gifted in sketching as writing. What a tender story of your Uncle's love and attention to you. Isn't it amazing the impact that you both had on each other's lives? Thank you for sharing such an uplifting story.

SharDon Exclusives said...

You always "refresh" my soul. The very personal experience makes your drawings all the more beautiful. Someday soon I want to write a tribute to my Grandfather who was an artist with NO hands. So I do appreciate todays post more than you know...
Blessings to you!

Lady Farmer said...

Like Linda, I too am weeping! What a lovely tribute to such a kindred spirit. Thank you for introducing us to this dear sweet man!
Your sketches are as beautiful as your words. You are a woman of many talents!

Susie said...

What a very sweet story Sandy.
I am still amazed at how much talent you have.

lorhen82 said...

You should have put a 'have your Kleenex ready' warning on this post! What lovely memories you've shared with us, and your drawings are wonderful...especially for the age you were when you did them! ~Lori

The Feathered Nest said...

Oh are just such a wonderful writer!!!! You pull us in and wrap your beautiful words around us and maybe make a tear slide down our cheek but we come away with such an amazing feeling ~ thank you for that!!! You are incredibly talented sweet friend, do not ever forget that!!! hugs and love, Dawn

Terry said...

Dear Sweet Sandy
Thank you once again for sharing
your gifts.
It is so amazing to me that you have all these wonderful gifts.
Thank you for touching my heart so deeply .
Your Uncle must be an incredible source of inspiration to you the way he allowed you to just be yourself is beautiful.
Blessings to you .

Barbara H. said...

What a lovely, lovely story, Sandy. What sweet memories to treasure, and what a wonderfully observant and loving uncle.

You showed great talent in your drawings!

Susie said...

Sandy I'm sure whatever plant choices you made they will turn out great!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful story and beautiful drawings! Vicki Page

kathy said...

Sandy a lovely story , and I see it is precious to your heart -- Thank you for reminding us to encourage children's and adult talents with this beautiful life
story --Your sketches are amazing -- such talent -- someplace I have sketches from 8th grade art class -- I need to revisit them -- MY grands love art and we spend many hours in my studio creating -- a time of love andd joy - Blessings Kathy - ga ♥

Catherine Holman said...

What a sweet story about your uncle! I love your little drawings. I used to do this too!

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