I did not grow up around art. I grew up doing things like sewing, snapping beans, cooking, freezing and canning food from the garden, hanging clothes on the line and taking care of my baby sister. Sometimes I would drive the tractor, but that was usually the responsibility of my other sister. In my spare time, I would read. I think I read almost every book in my elementary school library. In the summer, Mom would take us to meet the bookmobile if we were able to get all of our work done and she was not at work. While I was doing these things, I had a lot of time to think. I would think about what it would be like to live a life where I could read or sew a lot…you know, I could write things or make practical items for people who could not or wouldn't sew. But my little girl self only knew of one of our local legends in art, Grandma Moses (1860-1961). Our school did not provide much in the way of art education. We had the obligatory art class once a month where we were given a sheet of newsprint and some crayons and told to draw something. If it was not a good representation, then we were subject to the paper being held up to be laughed at. Most kids came to the point where they hated art.
Joan Mitchell "Land" 1989 oil on canvas
Then I went to high school. Taking art class was not something “normal” people did, and appearing normal was important in being accepted in my community. I remember there was one girl who took a lot of art –she and her family did not care what people thought of her– and I used to adore looking at her paintings. She was really cool and would talk to me about the art she was making, too. That was my first introduction to anything really artistic, but I never thought I could do anything like that. Today, I understand that girl does not paint at all.
But when I went to Va Tech (the university I attended which has probably become famous for all the wrong reasons now), the art world opened up for me. I met this great student on my dorm floor who was an interior design student. She was great encouragement for me and remains great encouragement to this very day (she has been my best friend for 32 years now). Because I changed my major and was so drawn to the creative I took some art appreciation and art history courses…there I was introduced to the American Abstract Expressionist. I fell in love…yup! Total love!
Joan Mitchell "Piano Mecanique" 1958 oil on canvas
Then lots of things happened called life, but my daughter became interested in women writers and started encouraging me to explore women painters. I fell in love all over again…How come they did not share the likes of Lee Krasner (1908 – 1984) and Joan Mitchell (1925 – 1992) with us in Art History? Uh? We only heard a little tiny bit about Anni Albers (1899 – 1994). Maybe that is because she worked with fibers and that was okay for a woman or was not as much competition for other artists.
Most of the people who comment on this blog are women…although that has nothing to do with this post. But here is what I am wondering, do you think male artist approach their art in a different way than women artists? I do think so and that may be why I do not know of any regular male readers here. Do we want different things from the process? I think that is a possibility. Do you have an interest in women in art? I do because they were left out of my earlier studies and they have played an important part of art, if for not other reason than they supported a lot of the famous men. Do you think it influences the work you do? Probably not very much, I just think it is interesting.