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Cadmium red and some matchbooks.


cadmium red

My grandmother would be so proud of me these days. (Well, that is a given; She was always proud of me.) She wished that I would pursue a life filled with art. During my childhood she praised all of my creative pursuits and she proudly hung my art in her home. One piece hung across from a Chagall (no really – a real Chagall) and the other hung next to a Calder (yes really – a real Calder). During my adulthood, she frequently asked me why I barely made anything anymore. I shrugged it off, but the real answer is that I did not (and still often do not) think of myself as “talented enough” to make anything. Unfortunately, one my greatest flaws is a quickness to give up rather than to perfect or simply be satisfied.

It was not until the last few days that I realized that my grandmother really thought of me as an artist – she was not just paying me lip service. And now that I am finally tapping into anything creative as an adult, she is not here to see it. That thought makes me deeply sad. So sad in fact, that I am crying all over my keyboard right now.


That said, I am finally pursuing a mixed-media project I have been mulling over for weeks. When I was going through my grandmother’s belongings I found a sizable match collection for a woman who quit smoking before I was born (and denied ever smoking). I did not know why, but I felt compelled to keep the matches, so I bagged them up and brought them home. A few weeks ago I pulled them out and realized that they each were connected to a story I may never know. Many of them were from businesses in her neighborhood, but there are also matches from the Holiday Inn in Wilksbarre, PA. If you knew my grandmother you would probably wonder what she was doing at the Holiday Inn in Wilksbarre. There is a matchbook that is so old that the restaurant’s telephone exchange reads circle 6. That is not old for a person or old for many objects – but for a book of matches – that is old.

While thinking about the matches, a piece of art started to form in my mind. Today, I began to work on it. As I painted my canvas cadmium red and got lost in the simple and broad brush strokes, I felt as if I were an artist. Now sitting here, typing, I unfortunately just thought to myself “don’t be foolish, Laura.” Hopefully this process will help me see what my grandmother saw – if not for me, then for her.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Katherine Wunderink permalink
    03.28.2008 9:02 am

    Soooooo cool. It can be incredibly helpful to have someone you love see you as an artist, and make that known. But you have to see it too! I’m so glad that’s happening to you.

    I can’t wait to see what you do!

  2. yup, another sara permalink
    03.28.2008 11:41 am

    This is such a great post– and I think that from wherever she is now (someplace good, I know that), she can see you and is, as ever, proud.

  3. 03.28.2008 2:54 pm

    You are so incredibly lucky to have had someone who was proud and supportive of you. I didn’t have any support or recognition for my creative efforts as I was growing up. I’ve been struggling with the “not talented enough” because of how I grew up (I think).

    A couple years ago I taught myself to knit… I normally would have given up on it because it does take getting used to and like you said, I readily do that, but I have forced myself to learn to do it, and learn as much as I can about it and I am really amazed with how far I’ve grown with that. I never thought I could do something like that. Okay, so I fuck up 9 out of 10 projects I do, but I could technically knit anything I wanted to :-p

    Then I jumped into making jewelry and I get excited about my creations. Late last year I started painting for the first time since high school. My dear roommie supports me in my endevours as much as he can (he’s not as art minded as me I think but likes seeing me happy and creative). I have a hard time thinking of myself as an artist because I don’t feel like I’m doing anything that -counts- as art. because I have no skill or talent and I’m just faking my way through it.

    Heh… basically what I’m saying is you’re not alone in your feeling. And I’m rambling because I’m on Vicodin :-p But I love your matchbook idea. And I love that each matchbook has its own story. Speaking as a writer, my brain is going wild with stories screaming out from my from each of those match books.

  4. carin.c permalink
    03.31.2008 4:15 pm

    What a wonderful find of your grandmother’s… she sounds like she was an awesome lady who knew what she was talking about… and I read in another post that she took you to Venice?? You are so lucky, and I’m sure she is watching with a big fat smile right now at your artistic accomplishments and growth process!


  1. Back to the drawing board… « Lady Lulu’s Braindump Hut and Craftarium

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