Childhood Memories

Childhood Memories

I was show­ing my SO the progress I’d made on The Mon­sters, and she said: “These col­ors are just beau­ti­ful!” I said, I hope so, that’s what it’s all about for me, and my mind went back to a time many years ago when those words had an unwanted significance.

When I was 12 or 13, my mother had a good friend who hap­pened to be the head of the psy­chol­ogy depart­ment at Bay­lor Uni­ver­sity. She arranged with him to give me a Rorschach test. I think this was because she wanted me to stop pun­ish­ing my brother. I guess she thought any­one must be nuts that wouldn’t love him, or that she might approach me more effec­tively through psy­chol­ogy than by the threats that hadn’t been working.

(My brother was a poor excuse for a human being, he was his whole life long; and I’m not sorry for any grief I man­anged to give him. I hes­i­tate to call him an SOB or a bas­tard, because both these epi­thets wind up insult­ing my mother. As a fem­i­nist (and a mother), I am very both­ered about that.)

Any­how, I spent a cou­ple of enjoy­able Sat­ur­day after­noons in this gentleman’s office iden­ti­fy­ing var­i­ous blobs and shapes, the most mem­o­rable of which were the ones in color. I recall one that looked like a lake in a spring­time meadow: It was ringed by a riot of flow­ers and sparkling insects, and I couldn’t say enough about the color. It was truly beau­ti­ful. And when the test was done, I was told that I needed to be nicer to my brother. And my mother was told that I was too much in the thrall of my emo­tions. (Recall that we’re talk­ing about a a pub­s­cent female, now.) While both these con­clu­sions may have been accu­rate, I won­der why the psy­chol­o­gist couldn’t have said, “What we have here is a poten­tial artist who will find the joy of her life in work­ing with color.” Would that infor­ma­tion not have been more help­ful? Does all artis­tic pas­sion boil down to some sort of psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­or­der? Are artists doomed to a waste­land of “Dif­fer­ent” because we see the world around us in a way not typ­i­cal of main­stream observers?

Fur­ther, I won­der how much of the arts is sac­ri­ficed to some physical/​psychological deficit: El Greco had an astyg­ma­tism, Van Gogh was crazy, Lautrec was a drunk who hung out in the Moulin Rouge, etc. A bet­ter descrip­tion of art and the pas­sion some of us find for mak­ing it is that it is mag­i­cal and mys­ti­cal and defies explanation.

That’s what I think when I’m just about fin­ished with some­thing and I feel it’s turned out well. Other times, I’m afraid I do won­der if I’ve lost my mind.


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