There was a time--between my late teens and early twenties--when I knew, in absolute, who I was as a young woman, as an artist, as a human being. I was so utterly certain of my identity and the paths it would lead me to...nothing could make me believe otherwise. I had spent so much of my formative teen years doubting myself: my identity, my looks, my talent; that this newly birthed confidence was something I wasn't going to give up without a fight. My father told me he admired my 'fire'; he said that it would make me a better person and artist.
I was in Vermont this past weekend, visiting my son Wyeth at his college. Seeing him there I was struck by how 'in his element' he seemed. When we toured Champlain and Burlington last fall I had this moment where I knew-in my heart- that this was where he needed to be. I knew it was the right place for him to 'find' himself and his own way as a young man. My other son,Warren, is going to school in Philadelphia and I have the exact same feeling for him. It's where he needs to be. People have continuously asked us how it would be for the boys to be 'seperated' when they went away to school. I never had a clear answer, because how could I explain that I knew in my heart that this was what they needed and that they would be okay.
Spending the day with him Saturday, I could see that he is becoming more of himself as Wyeth and not just as half of 'the twins'. I can see the sprouts...the tiny shootlets of this man-to-be and I'm confident he will find his own surety and 'fire'. It took most of the day before he truly began sharing stories with me about his new life...but we poked about in an art supply store and I swear I could feel my dad with us, looking at all the nifty things. We strolled the pier on the lakefront watching the rain and wind move across the water and I could feel my mother with us, marvelling at the beauty of it. I wish my parents could share this with me here on earth and not just in spirit. It's such a marvel. I've often felt that my personality was a burr-in-the-side for my sons; something they had to work around and get away from. I can see now, that maybe it's something they'll grow into for themselves...the way I've grown into my parents personalities. It honors them when I can clearly see how I echo them in my life.
Wyeth is named for Andrew Wyeth. Both my parents were great Wyeth fans. My father saw himself as a kind of N.C. Wyeth figure and my mother loved the works of Andrew and his son, Jamie. Do you see where this rambley post is going? I went to Vermont with my sister to see my son....and I found this amazing thread that winds through generations and binds us in an amazing tapestry of life.
I came back home and sat down in my studio...and wondered where I'm taking myself creatively? Have I stayed true to that 19-20 year olds surety of who and what I am. Am I at another point in my life where I can truly express my heart and soul without having to mute it or couch it in sweeter phrases?
My 19-20 year old self was railing against all the people who'd told her that although she was talented, she wasn't talented enough. As a young mother, my creativity spread into my life in so many ways. Now, as my sons' fly away...I am finding myself rediscovering parts I'd thought were long gone from me. I don't know what to think. No.That's not right. I know that I shouldn't think about it too hard. I should just let my soul lead for a while and see where it takes me.
This is Arabella. I did her on Monday...in the afternoon, still fresh from my Vermont journey. She began, in pencil, and then took shape in ink yesterday. I thought of my son, while I was working on her...so, in some small way, she is tied to him. She is on the cusp of something, waiting and watching for the moment when she will truly be her own...