Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Kid Stuff

Weaving Intangibles
acrylic, ink, pencil, thread
Ellen Sereda

I never tire of putting my children into my art. I do however have a few half finished portraits of my kids in idyllic settings - the beach, near pretty flowers in the park, all very cliche and certain to never be finished. A camera catches these moments in time better than a brush or a pen. But let me loose with other materials, like thread so I can do some wonky sewing, then add a crow and I'm a happy artist.

I have an astonishingly good memory of childhood. Luckily my childhood was pretty normal and happy, so a good memory isn't a curse. I don't romanticize those years or long for the perceived innocence of them. If you watch children for any length of time, you'll realize naivety is not the same of innocence. An example this past weekend:

Me to my youngest daughter: You need to apologize to your sister for poking her in the eye.

Her: But I didn't mean to poke her eye!

Translation - I meant to hurt her in another part of her face and not get caught

The lecture on my part went on about the importance of taking responsibility for actions and making amends. She then started mumbling under her breath, "I don't know what you mean, I don't know what you're saying". In my frustration I blurted out, "What! are you Billy Bob Thorton?!" I was so pleased with myself for getting in a topical reference even if she didn't know what the hell I was talking about.

Kids at any age are fascinating to watch and listen to. They share some of the qualities of manic depressives. Their highs are really high and their lows are like the end of the world. The key difference of course is everything in childhood is so transient, nothing lingers. Their best friend is their worst enemy until another day passes and it's all reversed. I think what we most treasure about the memory of childhood is not innocence but the intrinsic qualities of children that lead them to explore, imagine and discover.

One of my favourite picture books is Maurice Sendaks', "Where the Wild things Are", a simple book that has just the right balance of excitement and fear. When I heard a movie was being made from it, I thought, NO, not another Cat in the Hat, trying to flesh out a 32 page story into a bad Hollywood moneymaker. But then I saw the trailer. This might be good. An Arcade Fire song in the trailer? I am sold. (I just noticed if you have a 14" computer screen, the trailer will be cut off when you view it. Click on it to get the full widescreen version on YouTube)

**Just a note for those of you who subscribe in a reader. Yesterdays post didn't seem to show up in any feeds. 2 posts in 2 days? Quirky I know, can't imagine it becoming a habit.


andrea said...

Right on observations ... as usual. (And now I want to see the Wild Things movie.) I'll be back to you on Facebook ASAP.

Kim Hambric said...

I hope this movie is good. So many movies for "kids" start out so wonderfully and end up dull and gooey. I'm looking forward to it.

Perhaps you could do a movie short with kids and crows. Hmmmmm.

Ellen said...

Andrea: I read an advance screening left a lot of the audience stunned by how dark and off putting it was, so they've been re-editing it.

Kim: Oooh, I would love to make an attempt at an animation short just for fun. I have Flash but gave up trying to learn it, then saw a course listing for this May and had to slap myself out of it.This is my new mantra: I WILL FOCUS ON ONE THING AT A TIME.

Melody said...

Manic Depressive? I have teenagers and that describes them perfectly.

Mr Coppens said...

Very astute...emotions which peak in adolescence where they are free to zing from the core of the Earth to the stratosphere in a nanosecond.

I still think that Kids are here to teach us about ourselves...and how neurotic our parents were!

We gain more insight through our parenting mistakes too. However that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be loading up our kids with oodles of self esteem and try to balance it by saddling them with tons of baggage!

I loved WTWA too.

Ellen said...

Mel: can't wait till my girls reach that threshold, like toddler crazyness all over again except with lipstick and hormones.

Mr. Coppens of Coppensia: baggage is inevitable. I have a family member who is a teacher, he's had parents come in with their lawyers to protest a poor grade their senior high school kid got. Self esteem IS good, but this culture of self entitlement we're raising our kids in makes me want to send some of them off (and their parents) to work in an African orphanage for spring break and get a reality check.

Athena said...

Manic Depressives... definitely.

I love your art in this post. :)

Ellen said...

Thanks Athena!

ArtPropelled said...

Love, love your "Weaving Intangibles". A beautiful piece of art.