Friday, January 27, 2012

Parenting: A Work in Gestures

Last semester in Drawing I, Joe taught us about Gesture Drawing.
I dug up my old drafts the other day because I couldn’t get some of the lessons out of my head.
The thing about Gesture Drawing is that it is quick, it is practice, and very often it is ugly.
It’s a practice in letting yourself practice. And getting over the ugly results.

That’s hard to do as a beginning art student: let yourself draw something quick and ugly on purpose. Is that what I’m paying for?
I quickly learned that the lessons are paramount.
As I revisit the lessons, I am struck with how parallel they are for parenting.
Let me explain.

Joe said:
Start the drawing from the inside of the form, not on the contour edge. Draw from the middle to the outside edge.
As I spend my days with children, it is so much easier to try and understand them from the inside to the outside. If you agree that the basic needs are inside, then I can ask: Have you eaten? Have you slept? Have you pooped? Yes? Then we shall get dressed and begin this day.
Is your heart happy? Are you frustrated inside because you can’t tell me what you want? Then let me hold you and reassure your heart, and then we will walk around the room until we find what you need.

Joe also said:
Don’t draw the contour of the form; instead, draw across the planes of the form to establish relationships.
The “contour” is the outer edge of anything. By drawing across the planes, you connect shape and form and sometimes value (that is, light and dark shading) from the inside to the outside.
What is parenting if it is not a daily blessing and struggle to establish relationships?
I draw across the planes, and some days it is quick and ugly. It is a gesture. Because I am practicing.

Look at the subject as much as possible and at the paper as little as possible.
This one got me in the gut. If the “subject” is a child and the “paper” is “how I think I’m doing at this parenting gig,” then I truly need to be aware of my focus.
Sometimes I do parent as if others were watching. However, parenting is hard enough without an audience.
But if I focus on my subject(s) and not on my own self-consciousness or productivity or how we look at the end of the day, then I'll be a better parent.

Joe again:
Don’t pick up your pencil.
Translation: Never give up. Even on the hardest days. Even on the easy days that still feel hard. Don’t pick up that pencil.

And finally, Joe said:
Don’t think too much.
Why am I thinking so much when I could read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? AGAIN? Why think when I could sing to High School Musical? Why think when I could shoot some hoops in the driveway? Or do Math Facts flash cards or cut up a hot dog to add to the scrambled eggs because it is Special Order Dinner night and that is always top pick?
When I think too much, I get bored while I parent and I question the value of my college degree.
When I think too much, I get in chronos time and disregard kairos time.
When I think too much, I miss when Corinne learns a new word, fake sneezes for fun and then drips slobber down my neck because she wants to hug while those molars are coming in.
When I think too much, I miss that Svea faked a stomach ache at school and that Henry wants me to play Truth or Dare and only pick Dare.
So for a little while for a tiny bit each day, I’m going to practice not thinking too much.
Ahhhh, a life in gestures….a life that is full of practice and ugly results for the sake of practice…ahhh, a life that allows such things…
I want to learn to like these gestures. Thank you, Joe, for the reminders.


kbc16 said...

this was awesome. thanks for sharing, mollie. I, too, am working on the thinking less part...but with marriage...not parenting.

stacy said...

Beautiful.....deep & yet so simple. Thanks for the reminders! : )

I, Mollie said...

kb - if you figure out the marriage part, please share with us all :)
maybe that'll be in my next drawing class...

allisonmcelheny said...

a freakin men mollie. you're a stellar mom and I am so glad you are taking this drawing class. I'm gonna do it too one day... inspired again by your thoughtful thoughts. thanks honey.

Mer said...

WHAAA? you are awesome. did you reread this post today? :) sorry it was a hard one. caw me anytime dude.

amber said...

i love this post. have reread it several times now. and i keep finding something new in it each this.