To live and enjoy every day to its fullest, use my gifts to help others, I travel to wherever passion finds me.

What Will She Paint?

So many friends I met here...!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Sometimes life gives us a small window to do something rewarding. In my mind I see a little girl opening up a window, and a small bird flying in, sitting on the window sill with its head cocked, as if to say, "What are you going to do with this now?"

This window opened in a phone conversation with a friend when I heard that her 12 year old would stay for a few weeks at her grandparents' place. The latter live in my area. A month before, I had seen some of the artwork of Alley, and had been impressed with her sense of color and form. There are thousands of talented 12 year olds, but not all will take the opportunity to develop their talents.

My own 5th and 6th grade time were one of the most transforming periods in my life. I lived in a small fisherman's village and my parents decided that the school was lacking. When 5th grade began, I went by bus to the "city" to a new school. During art class, I sat next to Leslie. Leslie had an older sister, attending the art academy.
One time she asked me, "Do you want me to teach you to draw a face?" I responded, "Sure." She then showed me the basic places for the eyes, nose and mouth.

At my own house, there was no visual art on the wall. No paintings, or even photographs that I can remember. I drew and drew and drew faces, faces, faces.

This extended on into my high school years when one of the art teachers asked me to draw the head of Zwingli (a contemporary of Calvin). He needed an illustration for a book, but had "no time" for it. When I gave him the drawing, he handed me some money. "Here, get yourself an ice-cream."
Needless to say, I could buy much more than an ice-cream for it! This was my first commission, which became possible because my friend in 5th grade taught me the basics.

My own experience has etched in my soul the importance of inspiring and teaching others. They might even run few more miles than I will. Inspiration works like adrenaline.

After asking Alley if she wanted to work in oil or watercolor today, she responded that she had all these oil tubes at home, but she did not know what to do with it. She was eager to learn something new.
I opened the front door and asked, "Is there anything you see you like to paint?" She choose a complex tree with red blooms across the street.
When sitting on her little stool, I taught her how to do a value sketch from a plein air scene.
I had the right hunch about her, because one of her comments was that she "likes a challenge, otherwise it gets boring."

Alley's story began several years ago, when I with a fellow artist organized the first art show in the well know Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena, previously the home of the Pasadena Symphony orchestra. I did the legwork of inviting the participants, because my friend was working on his MFA.
Amongst the adults, four people under 18 years of age showed their art work. Alley, only 7 years old then, handed in a simple drawing with colored pencil, on lined note bloc paper. Somehow I, as well as my fellow organizer sensed her passion for art, and we gave her "painting" a place in the show.

I taught Alley how to take care of her brushes the simple way, by swirling dish washing liquid in the palm of her hand, till all the color of the paint has disappeared.
Why I allowed that window to open was because not only is her mom single, but she has battled vertigo for about 8 years, after she had been in two car crashes. She should not even have been alive, but now is not able to work at an official "job", so I knew they had to live frugally.

After four hours her grandmother picked her up. I could tell that Alley still could have continued with painting. Now that is the passion of an artist, whether he or she is 12 or 120 years old!
I saw the potential of a little masterpiece, propped up with newspapers, glistening with wet oil paint on the back seat of the car, when I waved goodbye to the two of them.


SILVER said...

there's so much kindness in your heart! I am so moved with what you had shared.

Will you be willing to read my Reflections blog and let me know what you think? If it sucks, i still like to know?



Ann LRD said...

Nice story!

Michelle said...

Sharing the joy!

That's what its all about.


jeannette stgermain said...

kindness begets kindness :)
Yes, I'll go your blog today. Ever since I "met" you I've been thinking "silver" because it's my favorite metal -I like it more than gold.Quess I'll put my Native American ring on today, which is silver...

jeannette stgermain said...

Hi Ann, I didn't recognized your name, so I went to your blog - ooooh, THIS Ann - you're doing a good job in hiding youself Ann (i'm joking!)
thank you for your comment and visit again!

jeannette stgermain said...

Yup, it is a joy and not a sacrifice because of my experience. Is one of your kids in art? All three of mine are in music and writing - sometimes I think/hope that they're not holding back because of their mom.

PJ said...

I would have liked to see Alley's artwork? I hope she visits again...

Silver said...

my sweet lady, i wish i can just hug you close and let you know how much you've touched my heart today.

Thanks for the valuable message you've left for me back on my Reflections blog journal. I do treasure it so much.

Silver Moon is my Chinese name. My late husband love it so much. He said it sounded like a Cherokee name.Very cool. :)

Barry said...

What a beautiful post. Your kindness and generosity shine through.

jeannette stgermain said...

it's an honor that you're visiting me-knowing all those hundreds of people are vying for your attention:) thank you for your kind remarks!

jeannette stgermain said...

Silver...moon, without knowing that that was your name, I put it in a poem that I'm working on.LOL I'll alert you when I'm posting it.
I think your writings do have an influence on people, so I hope you put your reflections "somewhere." And the rest...that was a pleasure!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

When I was a little girl a delightful older lady lived up the street from me. She instilled in me my love of flowers and gardens by taking the time to show me all the ways she cared for hers. And she had amazing gardens. I followed her around like a puppy.

So important, what you did for Alley! Wonderful story!

jeannette stgermain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jeannette stgermain said...

thank you for sharing your own experience - when I look at the visual side of your blog, I can see her influence. We carry these mentors as a treasure in our heart for the rest of our life - I am so grateful!