A few weeks ago I introduced you to Tamara, a stained glass artist and poet. I posted one of her poems, which you can read here. We've shared creative dreams, aspirations and struggles over the months of our friendship, and during one of those conversations, usually over a glass of wine in a quiet, out-of-the-way cafe after work, she told me about her Aunt Max.
I was so captivated by this story about Max, a woman who finally followed her dream, I asked Tamara to write a post for Ancient Artist. She agreed, and after several weeks of phone calls to her aunt, and finally a letter, I would like to share Tamara's story with you.
"I got the letter from my Aunt Max in Iowa - 3 pages filled top to bottom, front and back! The parts about getting back to art were scattered throughout, so I attempted to pull them out and put them together in a more cohesive statement. She turned 86 last month.
'All my life I wanted to paint scenes that were precious to me. It always seemed like I never had time - to be a farmer's wife didn't leave time to do this - what was in my heart. It is probably what we tell ourselves: 'Don't take the time to carry out your dreams...must take care of family first...what if I can't do it after all and spent lots of money on supplies.' Looking back I would probably do the same thing.
Sometimes my hands would feel like creating something. Now that I am a widow it seems my God-given gifts are stirred up again. Even wrote a poem - something I hadn't done in years. Living alone gives me hours of freedom to eat when I want to and do what I wish. The kids aren't an excuse anymore, in fact my daughter furnished me with all kinds of paint - oil, water, chalk, pencils. There is no excuse not to paint, but there can be too many distractions. Allow yourself time to create those things that are in your heart, [while] not allowing others to rob you of your gifts and time.
When I was in high school a woman had classes to teach us how to paint in oil. We painted lots of pictures. One that I painted I gave to my best high school friend - and forgot about it. Last fall 2008 she gave it back to me. It is such a good picture. She had it about 68 years.'
Tamara continued to write:
So, I don't know if those quotes are anything you can use, but I'm sure glad she and I have had this interaction. I didn't get any photos of her work. It almost doesn't matter what the art is like because this is about creativity and doing what's "in your heart". I think that "distractions" is a good topic. Even at 86 Max gets sidetracked by phone calls, a flooded basement, family issues (don't we all).
Perhaps you could give some ideas on your blog for dealing with distractions. How do we carve out that block of time to do what we so want to do? How do we shut out the thoughts of all those things that we think should be done around the house? Why do we feel "selfish" when we go off to create something? Those questions are certainly active in my mind right now. I'm such a dang neat-nik. No such think as "too clean" for me. I need help switching gears and heading out to the studio. I think I will look into this! Hey, now I know what to write back to Max - maybe I could help her, too. I wrote that she is an inspiration to me and in her letter she said:
"Now - imagine me being an inspiration to somebody. Thanks - this warms my heart."
I may be back home this summer for some reunions. Look up my aunties. My oldest girlfriend (we played together as toddlers) contacted me through the internet. I'd like to look her up, too. I got a wonderful letter from my high school art teacher. Hummmm, seems like the Force is pointing to Iowa! I love the idea of flying into Minneapolis, renting a car and just bumming around from place to place, alone. I could journal. It would take all of my savings. I dunno...well, I guess I've rambled on here long enough. I think I'll head out to my studio."
Tamara followed up with this bit of trivia:
"Thinking about my aunt I went looking online to see some of grandma Moses' art and to read about her. One of her quotes is: "If I didn't start painting, I would have raised chickens." I love that! She illustrated a book at age 100. One of her lesser-known paintings was on Antiques Road Show in 2004 and was appraised at $60,000."
As Aunt Max says, "Allow yourself time to create those things that are in your heart...
Live on purpose.