More crows. I took a break from an oil painting commission this week and did this crow study. I’m wondering if I’m becoming a ‘bird’ artist. But after looking through my reference photos of sandhill cranes and snow geese taken on Westham Island, I realize I’m only interested in crows. The other birds are just passing through and caution is probably the only regard they have for humans. Crows are in my ‘hood, they are part of my world, and they thrive because of human activity. This TED video on the intelligence of crows is fascinating (thanks to Hayden mentioning it on Andrea’s blog).
The other painting that was accomplished this week was by my 6 year old daughter, Olivia, after watching, My Kid Could Paint That. Odd how it's usually Olivia who wanders in and stays to watch documentaries with me. The film is about Marla Olmstead, the preschooler that became a celebrity artist for her abstract paintings until a 60 Minutes profile on her suggested her father helped her with her paintings. Whether she was helped or not means nothing to me. I felt sympathy for her parents, who clearly let themselves be swept up in the hype and caught in the centre of a world that wants to make and break people. This is a great film to watch and think about whether you're interested in art or not.
People latched onto the story of Marla, the art 'genius', and collectors made the price of her paintings soar to $20,000 a piece. One collector in the film, proudly displaying her painting beside his Renoir, talks about the images he see in her work - a doorway, a figure. He said he asked Marla about it and of course, being a typical preschooler, she didn't know what the hell he was talking about.
My daughter, seeing the man describe her painting said, "Wow, she's a good painter to do all that!"which brought on a great conversation. It became one of those rare moments when you feel like you're saying something worthwhile to you children instead of "clean your room and stop trying to kill your sister with the remote!"
I said, "she didn't mean to do that, she was playing with paint but the man saw those things in her painting. It's like when you stare at clouds and see dogs and dragons. The clouds didn't make those images, they're just clouds, but we imagine those pictures in our mind." After the film, Olivia had fun randomly scribbling while I found the images and stories within her drawings. The next day she really wanted to do a scribble painting and find her own stories in them. I let her loose with lots of paint and a canvas and she had fun finding bananas and bears and mice in all that abstraction.
It made me realize, meaning in life is about all those billions of stories that make up our perception. Some we share with large groups (religion, political views, etc.), others are smaller and subtler and make up our personal mythology, some seemingly unimportant things like how we feel about cats and the movies we like to watch. Everything is based on a experience or idea that's recreated through a lens in our mind. One collector of Marla's work in the film gets a little teary eyed when describing why the paintings are important to her. She says they 'capture the moment it was like to be a child' (okay, I have add 'duh', Marla's 4). I imagine one story for that woman is a romanticism of childhood, the free abandon and innocence she perceives to be childhood. Maybe my little obsession with crows is a story about finding connection with something natural and wild in my contrived, suburban surroundings. I think my daughters story right now, is just to find the stories.
Whew, I'm getting too long winded in my blog writing. Next post, pictures and point form. Maybe a meme, anybody know any good ones?