In the Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron advises artists to “take your inner artist on a date once a week.” Go to a museum, or a movie, or the beach, to feed your soul. Go alone.
I don’t do that. Not exactly that. No schedule, no plan. But I do enjoy the moment when it happens. Seize the day. Or the hour. Or the 15 minutes in a hot, old mill where antiques are sold.
That’s where you see me in this photo. Shuffling though family memories. Not my family, but a family for sale. Well, their memories are for sale.
Sad, you say. Yes. It is sad that a bunch – I estimate 500 or more in the bin I picked though (I looked at every one, bought dozens) family photos were sold in bulk to a stranger. The names and places may be gone, but the stories are still there.
I don’t know the name of the family, the location of the photos, or even the time frame for certain. But because they look so much like old photos in my family, I can guess 1950s and 1960s. I know they lived in a house with a backyard, that they built a water feature there at some point, they had a spot where they always took photos on birthdays. As the children aged, the bushes at the corner of the house grew and matured. The birthday boy or girl was almost always situated in the same spot with that corner of the house in the background. Usually it was the child alone with the cake, sometimes sitting on the ground, many times with the cake on a stool from inside the house. Later there was a picnic table added, and the cake sat there.
And, then the birthdays moved inside. My photographer husband notes that they got a camera with a flash. I didn’t think of that, but I’m sure he’s right.
I know this family dressed up for Easter, for Scout meetings, and what I hope was “tacky day” at school. They hunted Easter eggs in an area with pine trees and broomsedge. They visited older relatives, went to the beach a few times, to the mountains, and had family members in the armed forces. They fed ducks and went to a petting zoo. There were graduations, engagements, and a big anniversary celebration in later years. They bought new cars now and then, kids got wheels, too – wagons, tricycles, and then bicycles.
The core family consisted of a Mom, Dad, son, daughter. There were extended family members; brothers and sisters of the parents, their spouses, grandparents, close friends.
Mom baked cakes and kept an immaculate house. Dad worked hard and enjoyed playing with the children after work. They paid their bills on time, added a few improvements to the half-acre they called home as extra money allowed, and were good neighbors. You may think my imagination has run away with me here, and you could be right. But I think I know these people.
At least I know a family I imagine like this and that makes my day better. If I can create art from these photos that conveys part of that good feeling, that’s good for even more people.
So, is it still sad for the photos to be sold?
Is this what Julia Cameron wants to come out of my date with my inner artist each week?
I’ve already been working on more photos on fabric since Flag Bearer was done. Several are in various stages of completion; you’ll be seeing some soon.
And I’m pretty sure you expect a fabric story based on these children and their birthday cakes. Yep, I’m doing that!