I’ve been thinking lately of how important the ability to imagine is. What if “let’s pretend…” is one of the most useful skills to cultivate all of one’s life? Besides being lots of fun to do using your imagination is an essential mental health skill. I quote from this article “So when you choose to develop your imagination and your ability to focus and direct your imagination, you gain the ability to guide and shift and direct your emotions as well. And when you have the ability to direct your imagination and modulate your emotions, then you also have the ability to influence the neurochemicals in your brain and in your body, too. Like all things mental, this ability is learned, and, like all things learned, this ability is made proficient through repetition. You do not learn to read overnight. You learn to read through repetition. Repetition makes proficiency.”
A new painting in my Odditerrarium series portraits (see last post) is titled “Pretending”. It’s 10 x 8 inches and made with gouache and ink on board. It is for an exhibit via Caplan Art Designs later this year.
A close up view…
I’ve also made progress on a new book for Storyberries that I had begun in my last post – the cat reaching thought I was telling you about got some color.
In thinking of how important imagination is I’ve also been thinking of the scope of it: imagination is first a personal skill, then it becomes something shared with friends, then it is something shared with the wider public – even intergenerationally – and that cycles back to us personally. And it does this cycle as long as we’re alive. Art and imagination are an ongoing conversation we have over time with ourselves, our friends and our community… and most importantly with life itself.
So I’m proud to see in this article that one of my art projects, the paintings in the photo behind Amy Russell, the executive director of the Curtis Children’s Justice Center is still on the walls there! That’s one of my public art projects that I’m most proud of doing. Keeping kids safe and developing good mental health coping skills are causes I care deeply about – and I think art can help with that. Long ago when I was a small child living in Oklahoma I was on the recieving end of child abuse in my biological family and had my own memorable encounters with police officers, social workers etc. The art on the walls in all of the buildings and the drawings on boxes of animal crackers helped me almost as much as the kind people who tried to help. Fast forward to today – the idea of having one place for a child to go for assistance is phenomenal and I’m glad and grateful for the existence of the Curtis Children’s Justice Center and I’m grateful for the kind people who help the children who need their services. I am deeply honored to have my artwork on their walls.
An art collector friend sent me these photos (below) of a art commission I had done for them over 10 years ago – it has been reframed and is in this gorgeous private place!!
I did this collage of handmade paper to tell a very personal and delightful story of a lovely family!
The pet portraits are some I have done of this same family’s pets over the years – they got reframed too and don’t they look nice?!
I just adore getting to love people throughout the years with my artwork!!
My artist heart is happy and full ❤ !! Thanks so much to my friend for sharing this with me!!!
Three kids are the apples of this art collectors eyes and I did these paintings to represent the specialness of each kid… the kids are all grown up now and still cherished!
Since I’d posted the art collections (above) of my fine art earlier on my social media that are still loved all these years later… this art lover and I wanted to share these beloved apples!! So much love worthy of sharing!!! ❤❤❤
A friend gave us these flowers this week…
….I painted them in my sketchbook and posted my page on my social media…
…. another friend saw my sketchbook page online and asked me to make an art print of it. So I got out my big camera and did that! As you can see the colors and details show up even better now! You can see more about the print here.
My wife saw a unique mushroom in our yard and showed it to me. I looked carefully and photographed it and began a drawing in my sketchbook – then the next morning I finished it.
Then we got to visit some very special friends and a special cat and dog! Here I am being honored by the cat.
Here’s my wife being honored by the dog.
On the wall behind our friends is a collection of my artworks. Sharp eyes may recognize the cat and dog from our laps in some of the portraits on the wall.
One of our friends is the author and historian Pat Jollota – you can see some of her books here – she’s an amazing storyteller. If someday I can tell stories half as well as she does I’ll be proud.
I brought to our gathering some illustrations I’ve made and an idea for a holiday gift book. Together all of us imagined what my illustrated characters might be saying to each other. It was a fun party game that will become an actual book that I hope other people will have fun imagining with too.
My adopted Dad’s favorite quote is by Anatole France and I put it in my sketchbook along with a drawing this week. It was in keeping with my thoughts about “let’s pretend…”.
I hope your week is full of the kinds of imaginings and let’s pretend games that fill you with pleasure and happiness. See you next Monday.
10 thoughts on “Public art private art and pretending”
It must feel very fulfilling and rewarding to have your artwork make a space much more welcoming and comfortable for children experiencing some kind of trauma. I worked in child protection and youth justice for over ten years and I wish more thought was given to “softening” those formal spaces.
Your thoughts about encouraging and celebrating the power of imagination are very interesting. As a preschool teacher, I find that some children need some guidance as to how to play imaginatively. I provide lots of opportunities for dramatic and small world play and do a lot of role modelling. It is all about experiences and practice.
Yes, it does feel very fulfilling and deeply rewarding. I too wish more of these formal spaces would as you say “soften” visually. I even think some pediatric offices are too formal or too saccharine in appearance. And don’t get me started about eye doctors offices that are visually dismal to see… we need wine to have with that discussion.
Wow! I didn’t know you’d done work with youth justice!! I didn’t think it possible for me to like you any more than I already do – but, wow, now I appreciate you even more!!
So true, what you say, sometimes kids do need guidance on how to play “let’s pretend” and other imaginative games. I’m so glad you work to provide imaginative experiences!! Adults too need instruction, encouragement and reminders to practice imaginative play. That’s what I think art and fiction are for! It’s easy to get swept up in the demands of adult life and reserve all enjoyment for a once-a-year vacation… but for our mental health sake we need imaginative play much more often than that…at all ages.
That is why it boggles my mind that my own kids don’t read fiction for pleasure – except for the odd graphic novel. Despite their parents’ habits, they are not enthusiastic readers generally but tend to opt for non-fiction when they do read. It is weird to me because I love to be swept up in someone else’s imagination through books.
Thank you for sharing your busy and fulfilling week with us, Sue! My favorite part of this week’s post is your “life is not a video game” poem. That’s such a good way to put it.
Thank you so much! It is so good to hear that you liked my “life is not a video game…” that means a lot coming from a poet like you! ❤
How proud you must be to see your beautiful artwork hanging on the wall. You are so lucky to have good friends for inspiration Sue. I need to add more imagination to my life! Thank you for you post.
Yes, thank you! I am indeed lucky to have such good friends! I wish you all the best at adding more imagination to your life. Have you read any of Donna Leon’s fiction? The commisario Brunnetti series often features food… and Donna Leon did a companion cookbook. Or have you read any of Mary Lasswell? Laswell also did a cookbook using one of her fictional characters … the recipes in both of these cookbooks connected to fictional series are yummy! I can easily see you adding your interpretation to them…
Took me all this time to go back and read this one, and I’m so glad I did. Wonderful! And I think I’ll be doing a post about imagination soon too. I appreciated the link to the post about the imagination’s relationship to mental health. Certainly I let my imagination run down anxiety-producing tracks too often when younger, and it’s interesting to see that highlighted with such direct and helpful explanation of what can be done to ease it. I learned that for myself slowly and with lots of practice. Changing thought habits has come up a lot for me this year and it’s a lovely way to continue to learn and grow.
Thank you for your comment!!! I will look forward to your post about imagination!! Imagination is such an important aspect of life that I’m really amazed that it isn’t discussed more often. Especially when we’re young. For example if we do not train our imaginations into useful directions our imaginations can run into doom/gloom territory that can be paralyzing *even though the terror is only imaginary!* So learning how to recognize this is essential to ongoing mental health and I do wish we’d have more awareness of this. Anyhoo- thanks for reading and commenting!! Looking forward to your writing!