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Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Always an artist

Welcome to the January 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Stay the Same
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the continuity and constancy in their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Louise Bourgeois is best known for her spiders, particularly the monstrous but strangely comforting Maman, whose bronze, high-stepping legs I walked under several years ago, in the turbine hall at Tate Modern. 

But it's not her spiders that have been inspiring my son. "I was at an exhibition of her work in Edinburgh," he tells my sister and me, in the sculpture department at Glasgow School of Art. "She had some spirally drawings I liked. So I came back and did all these," he says, strewing sketches all over the table and the floor. 

"I was listening to Moby Dick when I did this," he says, picking one out with a pointing finger.

"Doesn't look like a whale to me," I say, and he glances at me with some scorn.

"It's not supposed to," he says. "You're not getting this. It's all part of my artistic process."

"What do I know about artistic process?" I say. "I drew a robin once and my teacher said it looked like a dead wasp. I never tried to express myself in art class again, resorting instead to sullen non-cooperation."

"I did that in every subject in school," my son says, looking stressed for a moment.

"The point is you're not trying to make something good right away," he says. "You're exploring the material. You throw these off fast, then lay them out and go, 'I like the way that's working' or 'I love how this curls around here'. Then you turn it into a sculpture."

"Is that one connected with this?" my sis says, holding up two similar-looking sketches.  

"They're all connected," he tells her. "Everything's connected."

"Why does everybody sounds like a hippy these days," I say. "Do you always start with painting and drawing then?"

"It varies," he says. "I started splitting planks of wood with a knife recently and a week later I was still at it. It's amazing how much you can learn about a material by doing the same thing to it, over and over.

"Eventually the sense of that substance gets into your brain. So you don't just see an image when you think of it. You also get its touch and texture. You feel the flow of the grain and the force it exerts on your fingers."

My sister smiles across at me as my son talks fluently and articulately about aspects of art we know nothing about. As he leads the way from the workshop, half an hour later, she and I lag a little behind. 

"That was great," she says quietly. "He's so enthusiastic and interesting. You know who'd have loved that if she was still alive?"

"Yes I do," I say. 

"She was always talking about what he was like as a wee lad. So happy and outgoing, she'd say. So creative, artistic and full of fun." 

"Then he went to school and struggled badly," I say. "It took us ages to get him diagnosed as dyslexic. By that time the damage had been done. He was a bad boy, the teachers said, surly and uncooperative. The constant criticism squelched his personality for years."

"But he is back, isn't he?" my sister says. "Twenty years later. Mum would have been glowing. Her grandson is an artist now."

My son hears the last part and calls up to us from a dozen steps below, "I'm an art student not an artist yet," he says.

"You are an artist," my sister says. "You always have been."

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
  • Always an Artist — Some kids take longer than others to come into themselves, so you have to stick with them, as a parent, long after everyone else has given up, writes Douglas at Friendly Encounters.
  • Not Losing Yourself as a First Time Mom — Katie at All Natural Katie continues to stay true to herself after becoming a new mom.
  • Using Continuity to Help Change {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs from A New Day talks about how she is using continuity in certain areas of her life to help promote change and growth in others.
  • Staying the Same : Security — Life changes all the time with growing children but Mother Goutte realised that there are other ways to 'stay the same' and feel secure, maybe a bit too much so!
  • Harmony is What I'm AfterTribal Mama gushes about how constant change is really staying the same and staying the same brings powerful change.
  • A Primal Need For Order and Predictability – And How I Let That Go — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she overcame her primal need for order and predictability once her awareness shifted, opening her eyes to the impact this had on her young daughter. Take a short journey with Jennifer and she bares her soul, exposes her weaknesses and celebrates her new outlook and approach to living life, even in the face of total chaos.
  • Breastfeeding Before and After — Breastfeeding has come and gone, but Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow finds that her relationship with her son is still just the same and just as good.
  • A Real Job — Back in high school That Mama Gretchen had a simple, but worthwhile career aspiration and today she is living her dream … is it what you think?
  • Comfortingsustainablemum never thought she would want things always being the same, but she explains why it is exactly what her family wants and needs.
  • 'The Other Mums' and The Great IllusionMarija Smits reflects on the 'great big magic show of life' and wonders if it will continue to remain a constant in our lives.
  • Unschooling: Learning doesn't change when a child turns four — Charlotte at Winegums & Watermelons talks about the pressure of home education when everyone else's children are starting school.
  • Finding Priorities in Changing Environments — Moving from Maine to a rural Alaskan island for her husband's military service, Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work found that keeping consistent with her priorities in changing environments can take some work, but is vital to continuous health and happiness.
  • Keeping it "Normal" — Kellie at Our Mindful Life has moved several times in the last two years, while doing her best to keep things stable for her kids.
  • The Evolution Of Our Homeschool Journey — Angela at Earth Mama's World reflects on her homeschooling journey. Homeschooling is a constant in the life of her family but the way in which they learn has been an evolution.
  • Sneaking in Snuggles: Using Nurturing Touch with Older Children — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama's son was a toddler and preschooler, he was the most loving, affectionate kiddo ever. But during the course of his 5th year, he drastically reduced how often he showed affection. Dionna shares how she is mindfully nurturing moments of affection with her son.
  • Steady State — Zoie at TouchstoneZ writes a letter to her partner about his constancy through the rough sailing of parenting.
  • A Love You Can Depend On — Over at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, Jennifer has a sweet little poem reminding us where unconditional love really lies, so it can remain a constant for us and our children.
  • Same S#!*, Different Day — Struggling against the medical current can certainly get exhausting, especially as the hunt for answers drags on like it has for Jorje of Momma Jorje.
  • New Year, Still Me — Mommy Bee at Little Green Giraffe writes about how a year of change helped her rediscover something inside herself that had been the same all along.
  • One Little Word for 2014 — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs has decided to focus on making things this year, which is what she is loves, as long as she doesn't kill herself in the process.
  • The Beauty of Using Montessori Principles of Freedom and Consistency — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the continuity of her teaching, parenting, and grandparenting philosophy using a combination of freedom and consistency.
  • My Husband's MiniCrunchy Con Mom shares which of her sons looks more like her husband's baby pictures — and the answer might surprise you!
  • Growth Happens When You Aren't Looking — Lori at TEACH through Love is treasuring these fleeting moments of her daughter's early adolescence by embracing the NOW.
  • A New Reality Now - Poem — As Luschka from Diary of a First Child struggles to come to terms with the loss of her mother, she shares a simple poem, at a loss for more words to say.
  • Making a family bedroom — Lauren at Hobo Mama has decided to be intentional about her family's default cosleeping arrangements and find a way to keep everyone comfortable.
  • New Year, Same Constants — Ana at Panda & Ananaso takes a look at some of the things that will stay the same this year as a myriad of other changes come.
  • I Support You: Breastfeeding and Society — Despite how many strides we've taken to promote "breast is best," Amy at Natural Parents Network talks about how far we still have to go to normalize breastfeeding in our society.


  1. What a beautiful story. I hope that I always nurture my son's strengths, so it does not take him 20 years to find and stoke the fires of his own passions!

  2. Thank you for sharing this great story! As a new mom as of 9 months ago, I realize that parents are the kids' biggest advocates.

  3. This is lovely. It seems like your son has really come alive as an artist.

  4. What a lovely post :) My dad is an artist, right handed. He's had a stroke recently and lost the use of his right arm and hand at first. It's coming back very slowly but I feel sure he will draw and create again, he will always be an artist.
    Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. That is lovely. I so love the identification and confirmation of being an artist. Good for him for sticking with it and finding his own!

  6. What a beautiful post, I love the way it is written and beautiful artwork x