How Blue Milk and Pink Mashed Potatoes Influenced Art
“I am an artist, you know… It is my right to be odd.”
“Don’t walk a mile in my shoes. Spend five minutes inside my head.”
Before I ramble on, I believe you deserve an explanation for the subtitle of this piece. After all, it’s like walking into a room and seeing a 7-foot-tall glazed donut sitting in a Lazy Boy. Information is required. First, do I get to eat it? Second, how come the donut gets the Lazy Boy?
A One-Paragraph Autobiography
Mom was an artist. Dad was a drummer and crooner during the big-band era. So, as the number-two son (no snickering or poop jokes) in a four-boy family, that may be all the explanation you need. It’s widely accepted that artists are, shall we say, free spirits who float through life on a cloud of creativity. Success is a mere byproduct of the artwork, and matters little, unless it affords one better equipment from which to create.
The above paragraph describes my young existence in a nutshell. Nut being the operative word and shell where I spent most of my life.
Pre-Green Eggs and Ham Era
Here’s a little peek into ye old childhood. My mother would find ways to incorporate art into everyday life, especially in the culinary realm. There was a night we sat down to feast at the dinner table when we came face to face with plates of roast beef, corn, and pink mashed potatoes. She topped off the dinner by pouring blue milk into our glasses, perhaps an afterthought, but I didn’t have the guts to ask. No artist likes to be questioned about their work.
When relating this story to my therapist, she mentioned this event may not have caused my anxiety but assured me it related to my fear of all things blue. Can’t stand eating blueberries or blue Popsicle’s or sipping on a Blue Shock Mountain Dew Slurpee. Blech!
Gotta give kudos to Glenna Goorabian, though, the original Sam-I-Am.
It Takes Two
When it comes to procreation, obviously, it takes two to create the artistic mashup I am today. A little history on our family patriarch, the aforementioned big-band drummer and singer, became a regular Joe after abandoning his musical pursuits when the four of us boys came along. Working late nights at bars didn’t put food on the table, even pink food.
Realizing it was futile to fight the ‘ole DNA, I succumbed to this realization: Frustrated ex-musician plus wacky artist equals child destined to become anxiety-ridden musician/artist. No mystique there. Just a byproduct of the Dali-esque gene pool, with number-two son ending up treading water in the deep end of life, sans floatie.
Oh, To Be Normal
People with anxiety often ponder what it would be like to feel “normal.”
What do normal people think about? Seems that guys think of cars, sex, and sports, not necessarily in that order. And women, if my inner 16-year-old girl is any indication, think does this dress make me look fat, and if so, what the heck, give me the extra whip on my Frappuccino. I’m being slightly facetious, but remember, I’m not normal, so that’s okay.
Working as a creative I wonder if my off-kilter parental recipe and strange upbringing gave me my quirky edge. Would this writer/musician/photographer/graphic artist be an insurance agent or CEO of a major corporation, if not for the twist of chromosomal fate?
Boredom is A Creative’s Red Bull
For this anxiety-ridden artist, nothing jump-starts the motor more than boredom. Being a creative cyclist (nothing to do with two wheels and a silly looking helmet) I get bored often. This probably explains why I quit high school and got my GED instead, but that’s another story for another day.
There have been periods of time when music was my muse and songwriting was my jam. Then graphic design intrigued me, so I started making posters for my band. While visiting family in Idaho, I even set out to learn how to fly a plane.
Okay, I only flew a plane once with my ex-brother in-law. But a week later, after hours of notes and research, I bet I could have flown one. Well, in all honesty, fly the plane, yes, but landing might have been a problem.
Passion du Jour
Now, speaking as a creative, we tend to jump tracks frequently. My latest obsession is photography. This is not a new pursuit, but thanks to my sister-in-law and her desire to learn photography, I have use of her Sony a6000.
Funny how these things happen. The minute I had that device in my hot little hands, my juices started flowing. Oh, the possibilities. The overwhelming urge to create was instantaneous. Am I addicted to being creative? Are new mediums my crack? Youbetcha.
The Fine Line Between Genius and Madness
We’ve all heard the saying by Oscar Levant, “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity.” This quip brings to mind people like Robin Williams and Michael Jackson. Both of these men produced volumes of creative work during their lifetimes, but their personal lives, as the media has shown, were rather messy.
Seems there are studies researching links between mental disorders and creative greatness. Our world has plenty of artists who have no mental issues, but there are the outliers willing to cut off an ear or bite the head off a bat. Bottom line is, who the heck knows if there are any connective links.
The Final Verdict
Weekly my wife tells me I’m a genius. If that’s true, I plead guilty by reason of insanity because I don’t see what she sees.
My brain tries to rationalize and asks: Does my social anxiousness and lack of personal self-worth produce the artist, or am I the product of nature or bizarre parental nurturing? The verdict isn’t in on this one.
The bright light to this tale is the anxious genius can leave the darkness when he/she encounters someone who understands their potential, is willing to nurture it, and drag them (sometimes kicking and screaming) into their brilliance.
While my mom’s appetizing table-scapes may have been an early influence, my wife deserves credit for helping me channel my artistic endeavors into salable commodities.
So, if your anxious child shows an interest or talent in any art form, encourage them and provide the support and tools they need to explore their inner creative.
You might have the next Andy Warhol sitting across the table, face and hair artistically painted with pink mashed potatoes.