Posted on April 12, 2017
of a different kind..
My son’s VLOG got me thinking about how we often develop a skill set in one area but end up using it in new and unexpected ways. In life, in work and in our creative endeavors, our experiences are somehow all inter-connected.
My talented friend, Linda Murtha, immediately came to mind as her work is a beautiful marriage of art and photography. She very kindly agreed to share her experience, her thoughts and her amazing art with us here:
I was about 9 years old when my mother came home one afternoon and found me painting a winter scene with white house paint on a red floor tile left over from our basement renovation. I can still see my vision for that painting and I can’t imagine what she was thinking when she took a cloth soaked in Varsol and wiped the tile clean. Afterward, she apologized, saying she didn’t understand what I was doing, but it was a long time before I showed anyone anything I’d created again.
When I was 7 I’d painted a watercolour of tulips in a garden as an Easter gift for my grandmother. I remember not wanting anyone else to see it. Even as a child my sense was that my art was safe with my grandmother but no one else understood my need to create. More than 50 years later, a lifetime since I’d even thought about it, I found that little painting among my mother’s belongings. It wasn’t anything special but my grandmother had kept it her entire life and so had my mother.
In high school I excelled in art and not much more and I begged my parents to allow me to enroll in an art program. They left me in the academic program, and I simply painted on my own through my teens and into my 20’s but I often asked myself, that age old question…What if?
When I married and had three kids in 5 years I put the paints away but sewed and felt that too fed my creative urges. I didn’t turn back to painting for many years. When I did, my own critical voice had grown very loud. I studied for several years with a talented landscape artist who increasingly showed frustration with the faultfinding I heaped on my own work. In a moment of exasperation, she said to me, “If you want a painting to look exactly like a photograph, why not get a camera?” The seed would take a while to germinate, but she had definitely planted it.
For a while I worked on trompe l’oeil (fool the eye) paintings and found great satisfaction in that. I’d proven to myself I could, in fact, make a painting look ‘real’. And then, shortly after this stage of growth, I was gifted with my first camera.
Two images I took on my first roll of film hung on the wall of my husband’s office for years. I felt accomplished, acknowledged, and creatively happy just taking pictures for my own pleasure, much the same way I had once enjoyed painting simply for the experience.
In time though, that same creative bug that had bitten me so many years earlier, started to nibble again. More and more I wanted my photographs to look less and less like photos and more and more like paintings. It was another season of cross-pollination and I was now flying backward.
I experimented with textures and layers, with off-lens photography, Lensbaby and with intentional camera movement, all in an effort to make images look like paintings. And I found great satisfaction in that garden of creativity.
And then most recently, after dabbling just a bit in encaustics over photographs, I found myself longing to paint again, and have been trying some techniques with acrylics and alcohol.
I’ve learned a lot about myself. I still hear that old voice muttering something about none of them being ‘note-worthy’ but now I can laugh and just go back to it and enjoy the process. Who knows what I may learn here that I can take somewhere else. Who knows as we cross-pollinate our experiences, and our attitudes; our criticisms and our praise, what the end results will be?
I’m proud of my work. I’m proud of the journey too. As each chapter unfolds I feel a hunger for the next and the next.
I started this adventure relatively early when I tired of crayons and colouring books and staying in the lines, but I’m thrilled to think the story may never end. There’s always something to learn from those who are also cross-pollinating their love of art with other skills they bring to the garden.
Thank you for bringing so much beauty to the garden, Lynda!
More of Lynda’s work can be found HERE.
As for Eric’s vlog…I posted it on Facebook where it made for some fascinating conversation. It seems our education and knowledge, skills and life experience never go to waste no matter what plans the universe has for us. It all counts.
I’ll end this with a thoughtful take on cross-pollination from Kim Mendenhall Stevens
I’ve been thinking a lot about it throughout my day…the comment that struck me the most was the last comment to the question in regards to what she thought about pollination…and she says the bees, they are dying. And while the bees aren’t dying from their job of pollinating, they are dying because of the actions of mankind, and well, the inaction as well. I know he was talking more about cross-pollination when it came to our experiences and things we’ve learned and translating that to subsequent jobs and experiences, but I began to think about it more on a humanity level. If and how we decide to cross-pollinate with each other on a personal and general level, means a great deal for our own survival….because in many ways we are the bees.