My niece, Erin, is a budding artist. During a recent visit to her home, she shared some of her drawings with me. Erin is generous with her art, and I strive to be generous with encouragement. A piece of her pottery glazed in my favorite shade of purple sits on my kitchen windowsill. Though we live thousands of miles apart, we are brought closer by our common interest.
I suspect that most artists can name someone who encouraged their artistic pursuits. I came from a family of excellent needlewomen. Not a painter in the bunch, or so I thought. Nevertheless, my mother framed my first real drawing. She did it in spite of protests that it wasn't very good and it wasn't finished. Today my charcoal drawing of an old boot hangs on my wall next to my mother's first embroidery piece - a double dose of encouragement.
Less prominently displayed are two small oil paintings by a distant aunt. To tell the truth, they are propped up on the shelf of my closet. They are modest works, and I have been tempted to part with them every time I've cleaned out my closet. I remember being completely surprised to learn that this particular relative was an oil painter. The time and place in which she lived would have conspired against her passion for painting. But I keep her canvases because every time I look at them I think to myself, "If she can do it, I can, too."
So, niece Erin, here's to the next generation of artists in our family. You can do it!
Erin's animal drawings from summer 2012.