One of the things that is emphasized over and over in The Artist's Way is how we have to get past the tactics that our parents and other early critics used to condition the innate creativity out of us. In this week's chapter we did an exercise called "Early Patternings" to quote/unquote try to excavate what happened to our poor, abused early artist.
I'm extremely well behaved about reading all the chapters, following all the rules, and doing every single task. However, the "early patternings" stuff simply doesn't resonate with me.
As far as my early artist goes, there weren't a lot of scathing critics. My parents—both being young hippies and aspiring artists themselves—weren't exactly the types to look down on creativity. In fact, a lot of my earliest memories were about doing artsy things with my parents. We didn't have any money, and we lived in a severely rural part of New England, so most of our entertainment was self-made.
They sent me to a communityWaldorf-style school when I was 3. They (tragically) let me and my brother dress ourselves from the time we could walk. They indulged my harebrained delusions of becoming a ballerina. They didn't blink an eye when I said I was going to go to art school and major in pottery.
Early on in the process of doing The Artist's Way I wrote this letter to my mom. I have been wavering on whether or not to send it. Judith doesn't really like the mushy stuff, and she's pretty private. So if you too don't like the mushy stuff, and you don't want to be a part of me outing my mom, better stop reading now.
That's right, 11 years younger than I am now.
I remember being very young and sitting at the kitchen table coloring with you. You always encouraged us to do creative things with our time instead of watching TV or playing with stupid plastic toys. We were constantly undertaking projects like making our own Christmas tree ornaments or baking cookies or painting murals on the walls of our rooms. At some point you brought home an old piano that someone had been getting rid of, and we all took turns really sucking at playing it.
Your own creativity was always an inspiration to me. You made clothes; you gardened; you cooked; you quilted; you made jewelry; you had that awesome Quaker-esque weaving loom that took up half your bedroom.
I am so grateful to have grown up in a home where creativity and art was encouraged and the consumer bullshit was kept to a minimum.
And beyond that, thank you for sending me to Syracuse, for being supportive of my decision to go to art school and to get a degree in photography and ceramics. Thanks for not being the kind of parent who encouraged or demanded that I pursue a more "practical" career. You've never once given me advice to do anything other than what I am already doing, and while it has taken me quite a while to find something I actually like to do, I appreciate your patience and your occasional financial support over the years.
If I could have one wish it would be to see you get back to your own creativity and re-embrace your abundant talent and passion for making things. I know that it's your calling.