If you're an artist, or have raised an artist, then you know the particular color of misery that stifled creativity can induce. Free to draw and dance to her heart's content while very young, my daughter did not transition terribly well to the impositions of the school years. Six hours of a not-so-artsy school day, followed by two more hours of tedious homework, often left her exasperated, desperate to regain her free will.
"I'm not free!" she wailed one particularly sunny evening in September, as she sat inside working the twenty-seventh math problem. Then she whispered, "Is anyone really free?"
It is that unquenchable desire for freedom -- freedom of time, space, creativity -- that often defines an artist. I knew this would not be easy. As parents, we ready ourselves to guide our children toward a steady career, financial stability, pursuits in math and science, where the jobs are. But my daughter was not satisfied unless she was interpreting the world through an emotional lens, sensitivities metamorphosing into art.
In college, hers was never a decision of whether or not to study the arts, but rather which one to study. For years she struggled between dance and fine art, not wanting to let one or the other go. Two BFAs in four years is incredibly demanding though, and she emerged from college exhausted, no closer to choosing one over the other.
She had already denounced any sort of career outside the arts, so it was a matter of vacillating between the struggles and joys of dance and those of fine art. All of it is a gamble of time, money, life energy. It's a wringing out of the muse, because for some people, for born artists, that is life.
To watch my daughter emerge an artist with a niche, a talent for combining dance and art into unique illustrations, and see the curiosity and interest this her work has stimulated in others, has been -- what? What has it been?
There is plenty of unrest in witnessing your child pursue an art, so to see something come through her effortlessly, peacefully, yet with such precision, is like being given a morsel of understanding. She focuses on one aspect of a dance scene, the detailed anatomy of the subjects within a pose, and draws this with graphite pencil. The result is stunning: movement captured in parts, freedom in the struggle.
Brittni's artwork can be found here at Thepurplecanvas.com.