Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Child’s Illustration

The story of these paintings begins in two places: Eagle Lake, Maine, and Lebanon, Connecticut.

I have very little possessions left from my childhood. Between having a large extended family to pass things down to, and several moves, I lost every drawing, every toy, every item of clothing.
There has been one item, however, I have managed to keep all these years: a small, red book. The book itself doesn’t matter all that much to me. The drawings on the endpapers, however, matter very much.

I was about five years old , living in Eagle Lake, when I drew them, during a commercial break for “You Can’t Do That on Television”. I still remember the epiphany I had that inspired these drawings. I’d realized for the first time, how movie film worked, and I decided to “illustrate” it for future reference. Hence, the worm eating an apple. The keys were an homage to the person who wrote the book I defaced, Frances Parkinson Keyes.

I’ve cherished this book for twenty years, as a reminder of the dream I have had since then: to be an artist.

The part of the story that begins in Lebanon starts, innocently enough, at an estate sale. My mother and I were returning from dropping off my car at the shop on a Saturday afternoon. We saw a sign for an estate sale and decided to check it out. My quest was to find picture frames, my mom’s quest: craft items.

We found ourselves in a house, ransacked by time and years of not dusting. There were collections everywhere: collections of Avon perfume bottles, magazines, and books. The most striking collection was a collection of hundreds of owls. They were all grouped together on a wall, their hundreds of eyes staring at me. It was quite intimidating.

But I did find some frames, a whole box of them, and I bought it for $3. Many of the frames were too small, and I was tempted to throw them away, but somehow, the dead person who collected all those owls haunted me, and I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

So I did what I have thought about doing for a long time. I traced my twenty-year-old drawings, and painted them, special for those old, tiny frames. I repainted the frames, so they would look a bit more sophisticated (as sophisticated as cheap brass frames can look), and I adjusted the backs so they can be hung on the wall. Voila!

Thank you, dead pack rat, for haunting me and forcing me to use your old frames.

Thank you five-year-old Nancy, with your painfully introverted personality and your funny northern Maine accent, for drawing such fun pictures.