Sunday, August 13, 2006

Learning To Paint

Every evening when I go to pick J up from daycare she shows me all her artwork in a state of feverish excitement. There is profusion of hearts and flowers around stick figures with smiley faces. Sometimes greenery, sky, sun and clouds make an appearance.

Almost all of them have the words "I Love Mommy" on them. My heart brims with gratitude to be remembered and missed all day. It takes superhuman effort to put any of these little love notes in the trash but as their pile grows mountain high, I realize that we also need room to live. I tell myself I don't take for granted that I am well loved.

I notice a lot of the other children are avid painters as well. Though their work is similar in level of sophistication as J's, I find it hard to understand the underpinnings of their art. Kids art is almost always surreal -a lot can be represented by very little, things have layers of meaning. I love to hear J explain her drawings and choice of colors to me. If I knew anything about kid art psychology I may have found reasons to worry as well given the exclusively bright and happy colors, the multitude of hearts, smileys and sunflowers. There is only so much a maxed out single mother can think.

Over time I have come to understand the latent symbolism in them. It is an advantage that I don't have with the other young artists - I have not been educated in their repertoire of symbols. My acquaintance with kids art has grown enormously by and through J. I am to the point where I find it a lot more interesting than a well executed landscape by an adult painter.

We were in a craft store yesterday. The sight of paintbrushes and color made me nostalgic for my own water color supplies that had fallen to disuse at the end of high school. My old paintbrushes must be gathering dust in some forgotten box in my parents' home. I am almost tempted to revive and relearn my lost love for Chinese watercolor. Maybe if I painted alongside J, we could both learn from each other.

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