Creativity is its own reward, I keep reminding myself. You don’t need accolades or praise if you’ve created something that the inner artist loves. Indeed, critical or adulatory feedback can obscure the joy for the creator, as somehow the piece of work moves out of their personal sphere into the realm of the other audience.
But the creativity which kept our mother going as her fingers stiffened with arthritis so that handwork of any kind (knitting, crotcheting, painting) became impossible, that creativity lives on in the small catalogue of work she produced. Actually there’s a rather larger catalogue of handicraft blankets than of paintings, but the entire set of 10 paintings that hung in the folks’ last home is helping the family distribute their desiderata to the best recipients.
To me, these two paintings speak of a family history that stretches back to homesteading days in Saskatchewan and to sugar bush days on a farm outside of Toronto. Turn-of-the-century into the 20th, a century ago. Both of these images re-create the time when our parents were children. Both are melancholy, bittersweet, with those faded memories to the fore contrasted with the sense that happy childhood experiences would retreat into the past as our parents grew into adulthood.
A piece of family history, then, re-created, encapsulated in a single image. For the new generation, the pictures are more joy, less tristesse, because the experiences portrayed are so exotic and intriguing. Even so, though our parents rarely spoke of their childhood, we offspring recognised that they held early memories close to their hearts.
I wonder what tangible expressions of joys, of hopeful experiences, we might ourselves contribute to those who come after us. Something different than our parents left, I’m sure. But I hope whatever these few items might be, they will be loved, just as we love the blankets and paintings our Mom created for us.
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