I was eleven years old when I picked up chalk pastels, and intuitively knew what to do. I smeared creamy sunset colors with my hands onto the back of a piece of cardboard. Gorgeous yellow lit up like real light, and a tiny white dot made the perfect sun, burnt oranges were exactly the color of sky. I used the sides of both my hands to blend purple into the horizon line, like I’d done it a billion times before. I’d made something perfect. Life with pastels was beautiful.I showed the picture to Mom, she said, “You didn’t make that, it’s too good.”
Why did she say that?? I needed her to approve, and it stopped me cold to hear her disparage what I made.
I did make it, and forget what she thought, I’d keep that truth to myself.
Something private changed when paper became my truth. Writing, color, words, images all went together in my mind, and I found ways to get out of my family and into some matter. Some matter, like some real thing besides thinking I was crazy. Making things was like prayer, personal and important, without need for outcome. I didn’t want anyone telling me I hadn’t done something good.
We can’t always believe the people who say they love us. Those people have their own demons, and when we’re kids, we think we caused the problems, but that’s not true.
I will never know why my mother couldn’t believe I felt the sunset, and pastelled my way into a place of matter.