My Mom on Creativity Now She’s Facing an Empty Nest

This month my brother will move out of the house, the last child to do so, and my parents for the first time since the first few years of their marriage will have the house to themselves. They met in college, my mother an art education major. She’d planned to teach art in high school, but then had a son who became severely disabled and the only time she taught art was when she home-schooled us.

I remember her water color paintings of sheep in pastures, of hockey players, a night time baseball game, and intricate weaving hearts. I remember her pencil sketches of detailed faces and her doodles on napkins while she chatted on the phone. I can say she is an artist. But for the past decade or more her art has stalled and now, with an empty home, she’s buying art supplies.

My mother:

There’s an art store down on Hawthorne I found the other day. It was very small and intimate. The clerk shouted out a hello as I walked to the back. I acted like I knew what I was doing, but felt like I was in a foreign country unable to read the signs. I was very intimidated, but I found the printmaking stuff. It wasn’t much, just a small section about 2 feet by 2 feet. Everything seemed to be student quality, meaning cheap. That made me happy. I don’t want to invest too much money on something I might stare at for a couple of weeks or months. Paper always draws me, so I grabbed a stack of white printing paper. I asked the clerk which was better, the 10 set of cutting tools or the one tool for the same price (what an idiot!). I grabbed the one cutting tool.

When I looked at the Linoleum, which is what you use to carve your print, there were three kinds. One was too soft, one was too hard, and one was just right, or so I thought. The clerk said most printmakers will choose the hard one since it will make finer details. I mumbled “I wasn’t into that,” under my breath, hoping he didn’t hear the idiot speaking. I grabbed the linoleum that was just right. A whole piece about 1 foot by 1 foot in which I will cut smaller pieces so I can create more prints. At home I still had my brayer which rolls the ink on the linoleum and some other cutting tools that are just a few years old. I have had them since college. Quit COUNTING! They are not old, just vintage, as long as they do not fall to dust when I touch them.

Alas, that is the point. Every thing is sitting on the dining room table, mocking me. Waiting for that one creative thought in which I can start carving.

Maybe it will come today…but I really should clean the toilets.

That’s where the 13 Creatives enter the story, because they’ve faced the empty void. They’ll be an encouragement, an inspiration, and a spark for all us Creatives. Maybe even my Mom.

Go check out these 13 Creatives who will be guest posting here from June through August:

Tyler Braun,
David Clark,
Dyana Herron,
Diana Huey, possibly a hermit
Chris Hunter, possibly a recluse
Elizabeth Myhr,
David Jacobsen,
Adele Konyndyk,
Shannon Huffman Polson,
Britt Tinsdale Staton,
Chad Thomas Johnston,
Derek Smith,
Alissa Wilkinson,

6 thoughts on “My Mom on Creativity Now She’s Facing an Empty Nest

  1. Beautiful post. I don’t have children, but when I think about my own mom– or watch good friends go about their motherhood– it amazes me how much creativity is involved in simply managing their households. Making three meals a day for their families, baking birthday cakes (my friend Jamie used a GI Joe and turned him into St. Patrick on a cake for that holiday), turning old clothes into new clothes, making up stories, finding ways to convince your kids to do something they don’t want to do, staying up late to work on school projects or science fair entries… it’s creativity from before dawn to way past dusk. I’m in awe of mothers and all their creative work.

  2. Mom, the art materials do not mock but encourage. They remind you that they have the power to rejuvenate your creativity, and they don’t care if it presents itself in the process, or in the result.

  3. Ahhh….there’s hope for us hs moms! ;-> After years of learning and re-teaching and being more intimately involved in more areas of life than we ever anticipated, it is good to turn those skills upon ourselves, so pass that onto her. My kids are still here, but I am being somewhat proactive in the meantime. I must tell a niece of mine (also hs’d) about your blog and that she was alluded to in a post. She actually went to school to get a degree in writing (not journalism) but she isn’t doing anything with it 😦 so I think she could use some encouragement since her aunt blithely and fearlessly puts pen to paper and fingers to keyboard (perhaps even rushing in where angels fear to tread?). I told her to start blogging (even marking them private until she feels more comfortable), but I haven’t heard anything back yet…

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