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My Mother Used Art To Teach Me About Life

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  • October 15, 2020
  • Shailee Mehta

How my mom taught me art

My appetite for art was fueled by my mother. When I think of my mother, I see a woman with a cape having paint speckles on it teaching her daughter how to hold the brush and paint. Her room has been the birthplace for my creativity. My mother who is an avid jewelry designer has used creativity in a way that sprouted seeds of creativity in mine. My childhood was all about witnessing a room filled with colorful beads, threads, loud music on the radio and watching my mum intently working her way through to create some beautiful handmade jewelry. Being an inquisitive and hyper toddler, my mum had no alternative but to accompany me in my ventures.

One of my earliest and fondest memory during the “mommy and me” art class is creating this big beautifully vibrant canvas that we created together. It started off with my mum plugging in some of the old classics on the cassette player followed by dropping a bag full of fluid acrylic and asking me to drizzle colors on the canvas. We would pour colors on the canvas one by one and then tilt the canvas in different directions in order to produce vivid, messy hues. This activity made the colors interact in the most unpredictable, yet always interesting ways. When the canvas would dry, we would put our signature at the end of the canvas. My mother would often frame my art work and hang it in the house reminding me of how much she appreciated her little Picasso.

As I grew up, my creativity wavered, but never that much.

It perked up in school, where I was given projects. I was allowed to use my creativity any way to portray the understanding of my topics. I vividly remember one of the history projects which landed up giving me the highest grade in class along with a fair amount of appreciation from my teachers and classmates. The topic was Traditional Indian Clothing and Ethnic Wear. I was extremely lucky to receive a topic where I had the freedom to use any and everything to show the traditional dresses and culture across different Indian states. As easy as it sounded, this was an extremely laborious task. Showing traditional wear for 29 states was not easy, but with mum around, things got a lot easier and more fun. We started off with getting different materials, lots and lots of decoration, trinkets from Crawford Market. After gathering all the materials, we then decided how we wanted to show each dress so we went to our tailor who helped us make miniature dresses representing a few states. To make it look more attractive my mum did these bright embroideries on each dress that differed variably while I attempted my hands on the jewelry worn by women and men across India. I made these little ornaments with mum’s beads and the stud stickers I got from the shop. We combined our work piece by piece and made the best project! When I look back, I wish I would have appreciated her hard work more.

When I reached secondary section in school, our teachers had to assign us to music, art or craft. I was desperate to be assigned to art, I thought naturally I will be the chosen one as I had scored very well but they assigned craft instead. I came home and cried a river. No amount of pacifying worked. How would I deal for the next 5 years of my school life in something I was not that interested in. I didn't want to sew or learn different stitches, I wanted to learn shading techniques. My furiousness with my teachers and envy of people who were assigned art carried on for a couple of days. I made my mum write letters to the teacher and harassed her to have a word with her. One day as I lay in my room sulking, from the corner of my eye I saw my mom with art sheets, color pencils and water colors. My dad laid out papers and my sister got cups of water and aprons. I woke up and ran towards it, I simply joined my family laughing at my behavior, purposely throwing paint at my sister, happily coloring and grooving to the music. It dawned to me that I didn't need my art teacher, what I needed was my mum (my artistic superhero) to my rescue. I vividly recall that day, and a warm smile spreads across my face. She would set up still life’s, give me her watercolors and brushes and paper and taught me how to draw and paint what I saw, use color, how to blend the colors, and how to express shadows.

 

A woman of many talents with an amazing eye for design. I inherited her ability to develop a design sense which I incorporate into my artwork. When creating my whimsical paintings, I hear music, which I use to spread joy within my various art escapades.

My mom has a tiny cupboard in her bedroom, in which she stores all my art work - when I started drawing shapes, cards, projects and canvases. Some are even with a tick and big smiley or a star for the times I colored in one direction or inside the lines. I always wondered why did my mum save all my art work so carefully, even the small papers. For my mum those were memories of a lifetime, each paper telling a story and coming alive every time she sees it. There is intricate blend of emotions just like a beautiful canvas, mesmerizing and so treasured.

It's sweet nostalgia of how art looks complicated but in fact it's simply when someone bares their soul open.

Published by

Shailee Mehta

4 Articles

With a master's in clinical psychology and an interest in mental health, creative and visual arts; Shailee has collaborated both her skills to help with psychological health, creative expression, cognition, and motor...

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