The painting above is not my creation. However, it was painted by a very influential woman in my life and it seemed appropriate that her works gets some exposure on the "interweb".
First I'd like to say that one thing (of many) that my parents did exceptionally well in my upbringing was to encourage my artistic skills. With a mixture of their endless support AND a portion of luck, I was given a life changing opportunity. Which I am going to tell you about:
I grew up in a small village in the Icelandic countryside, where everyone knew each other and things were pretty informal. So, to no one's surprise, one day in 1st grade when my nature science teacher was off sick, it was perfectly fine for him to send his wife in his place to teach the class. To be fair she did have some teaching experience, just not in nature science - but as an art teacher. So instead of following her husband's schedule/curriculum, she simply gave us some art supplies and let us make art!
Apparently – from what she told me – while the other students rushed through one drawing to the next one, I spent the whole lesson working on the same drawing. I was so focused, trying to get every detail right and thoroughly colouring each element of the piece.
She noticed this difference in me compared to the others, and being the amazing woman she was, when the chance came she spoke to my parents and expressed interest in inviting me to her art studio for some art sessions. They agreed that this was a nice idea and soon this turned into a twice weekly meet-up. I would walk after school straight to her studio where we would normally spend a while sitting and talking, before we'd each move into our assigned corners of the studio and make art.
What I am most grateful for about her is that she didn't treat me like a student, but rather like a fellow creative. She never told me what to do. Of course, she had a big influence on me and she taught me many things – her primary medium was oil paint, so that's what I started using and she taught me how, what materials to use and handy techniques – but she never said “this is incorrect” or “do it this way”. One of her most memorable sayings was “this is your artwork. If you want to draw people with no faces, then you can. If you want to make the sun purple and the grass pink, you can”.
This gave me complete freedom of expression and allowed me to create my own identity. She made me feel like I was just as much an artist as she was – just not with as many years of experience yet. To top it all off, she invited me to join her in an art exhibition. She held it in her own house which she had just bought, before moving in. She left me a whole room for my work, which to me who was only 11 at the time, felt huge.
As I mentioned in my last post, the time I spent with her in the studio also did so much for my confidence and my social life through school. You can read more about that and my overall relationship with art here (and see some super cute pictures of a young me!).
I ended up going to her studio on a weekly basis for about 7 years. But as time goes by things come up, we get older and our priorities change. She was beginning getting older and with that comes a variety of changes, while I needed to focus more on my studies as well as being a teenager who wanted a social life. So, eventually our meeting became more infrequent and sort of just “faded out”.
She will always have a special place in my heart as she played a big part in shaping who I am today. I don't mean to sound melodramatic, but I can honestly say I feel like she gave my life meaning and helped me find my value. No matter what path I'm on, art is always a huge part of my identity. Without her, a part of me might have been lost way back in the distance.
I would love the opportunity to have the same influence on a young person in the future. One of the things I love most about art and creativity is the power it has to shape our lives, our identities and help us get through things that may come our way.
Speak to you again soon,