Art Lessons From My Sons

From a Saturday morning about a year ago: the boys making art at the kitchen table.

Not long after my brain surgery, I wanted to get back to making collages and working in my art journals. In fact, I wanted to start as soon as I got home from the hospital, but that just wasn’t possible. I had lost too much control and coordination in my hands.

Once I started occupational therapy, however, I found ways to work within my limits. Some were simple strategies: like using punches to cut paper into shapes instead of scissors, which I couldn’t hold. Others were more unexpected and a bit child-like.

That child was my son, Antonio. He was just about two years old at the time, and he loved to mark up any paper he got his hands on with pen, or crayon, or marker. And in his scribbles and scrawls, I found a replacement for the painted backgrounds I could no longer create.

It was a wonderful collaboration: he never complained about how I used his pieces, he was always creating more works for me to use, and it was a wonderful way for us to spend time together. (Teamwork between artists should always be so generous!)

That was four years ago, and now I am able to paint backgrounds, draw simple lines, and even use scissors. But I still use Antonio’s artwork in my journals from time to time, and now his younger brother, Adan, also paints and draws on papers that I use. Both of the boys create with a combination of complete abandon of expectations and raw energy, and I love to add their spontaneity to my work. Here are the real abstract expressionists!

When I was beginning to learn to adjust to my “new self” after the surgery, I was hyper-critical of all I did–or could not do. I compared everything to what or how I did things “before.” Sometimes I still do. It is the boys’ lack of self-criticism while working that reminds me that making art doesn’t have to be something you are good or bad at, it’s just something you do. In so many ways, it is my boys who remind me that today is the day that matters most.

Background from this collage by Antonio, thanks to a long wait at the doctor's office.

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4 thoughts on “Art Lessons From My Sons

  1. Art has been a huge source of healing and human connection throughout my life. And collaborative art is especially gratifying. I love the collage you and your boys created. Thank you for sharing this lovely story. Wishing you a long life of making art and making beautiful moments like this one.

  2. Wonderful post and wonderful art. I love how you’re working together with your boys. My son is now 11 and I enjoyed the time we would spend together creating. We don’t do it as often now but we did just decorate his marble composition book (for school) together this past Sunday, so much fun! I noticed that you have Eric Carle in your blogroll. I bet your little guys like his books alot 🙂

    • I almost know “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by heart! 🙂
      (I’m not saying that there aren’t some Saturdays when the boys would rather just sit in front of the TV… but when we work together, it’s great!)

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