Art Happens

"To the man who loves art for its own sake," remarked Sherlock Holmes, tossing aside the advertisement sheet of the Daily Telegraph, "it is frequently in its least important and lowliest manifestations that the keenest pleasure is to be derived." ~Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

Hamburg, Arkansas (Turner Household) … 1977 … I was three. My mother tells the story often enough. She was working in and around the house when she realized that I was missing, or hiding, or simply being much more quiet than usual. I still have a problem keeping my mouth shut, so her concern was duly warranted. After a brief search, I was found. I had been in the garage. With me was a box of crayons. Apparently I found the garage walls to be a rather boring shade of whatever color they were and was determined to change their appearance. I am sure I received some sort of punishment, but my mom now laments the fact that she did not take a photograph in order to preserve the moment for all eternity. Art happens.

Tigoni, Kenya (Brackenhurst Baptist Conference Center) … 1980 … I was six. I do not need anyone to tell me this story. I remember it vividly. Brackenhurst is the location of an old British hotel. The tin roofs are red and the cottage like buildings all sport white-washed walls. My dear friend-since-birth (Becky) and I discovered that flower petals, once pressed onto a white wall, produce an excellent transference of color from the flower pigment. The flowers (roses, geraniums, snap dragons, etc.) were a most excellent medium with which to work. The result? Mural. As I recall - it was rather beautiful. Alas! The adults in our lives were not amused. Not only had we defaced the outside of a building, but we were not supposed to be picking the flowers either. As Becky’s father was the administrator at Brackenhurst, we were fully aware of this rule and had ignored it blatantly. Please note: It takes a lot of soapy OMO© (detergent from hell that strips the color out of clothing and could probably remove skin if deeply concentrated) water, scrub brushes, elbow grease, and little girl tears to remove a flower petal mural from a white-washed wall. Art happens.

This seems to be a good place to note that, according to my edited adoption records, my birth father was an artist. Go figure.

Nairobi, Kenya (Rosslyn Academy) … 1984 … I was nine. I remember being chastised for not following directions in art class. I colored outside the lines. I used paint when we were supposed to be using colored pencils. I drew palm trees and the ocean when we were supposed to be cutting out snowflakes or some other such nonsense. I don’t recall a lot of detail, but I do remember being a problem to my poor teacher. Incidentally, my mother still has a lot of my art pieces from elementary school and they all have good grades on them. My teachers may have been frustrated, but they never forced me to stop expressing myself as I saw fit. There is a batik (a technique of hand-dyeing fabrics by using wax as a dye repellent to cover parts of a design, dyeing the uncovered fabric with a color or colors, and dissolving the wax in boiling water) of a thorn tree in the sunset that turned out particularly well. I still have it. Art happens.

Kijabe, Kenya (Rift Valley Academy) … 1991-1992 … I was seventeen. I took my first official art class hoping for an easy class and subsequently an easy grade. It was my senior year. This time, I followed the rules. We worked through the various mediums and I discovered a talent I had with stippling (to paint, engrave, or draw by means of dots or small touches. I also discovered I can not paint worth a damn and I can’t draw people … well, I can … I am just no good at it. My teacher criticized me for not taking his course earlier in school so I would have time to develop my talent more fully before graduation. Whatever. I chose not to pursue art in college. Still, art happens.

Art happens.

We are surrounded by art every day. How often do we stop to pay attention to what we are seeing? You do not have to visit Paris and spend a day (or two, or three) at the Louvre to experience art. I have experienced museums around the world from Rome to Amsterdam to Nairobi to Washington DC (that is just a sample) and stood in awe at the works displayed in each. I have also repainted apartment and house walls as my children have grown and obviously inherited my penchant for taking pencil, pen, crayon, and marker to those flat surfaces that obviously beg to be made into a mural. Had I not been renting, I might have bought empty frames and mounted them on the walls around the artwork produced by my little people.

Art happens and it is everywhere. Signs, advertisements, clouds, coloring books, spider webs, handwriting, greeting cards, dew drops, carvings, paintings, and graffiti represent a tiny fraction of the art that is introduced into our lives minute by minute. Stop. Look around. Find something artistic every day that brings joy into your life. Remember it. Remember to look again tomorrow.

Art happens.

You do not want to miss it.

"Life isn't long enough for love and art." ~W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpense


  1. You are a very talented gal (as I always knew you were). Your writing inspires me to 'stop and smell the roses' so to speak. As moms, we get bombarded with the daily 'need to get done' things. We often forget- it is but a vapor..... I really enjoyed reading your blog

  2. see. I can't even write correctly anymore. the children have sucked the brain right out of my head!
    the above post should read...
    with the daily 'need to get things done'
    good grief

  3. To Anonymous. No, you were right the first time!

    It's the "things" which bombard, not the "need".

  4. But my dear Beth, I do want to miss most of what passes as art! As I write in my latest post, various householders displayed the art of inflatable Santa Clauses and for a short while, losing the "art of ignoring things", I lost the will to live.

    But I love your post for its emphasis on doing as opposed to viewing art. Let us all be artists, but not condemned to see one another's work!

  5. Vincent ~ The great thing about art is that it *is* completely subjective. We choose what we like. Much of todays modern art makes me want to gag ... yet I can find the beauty in the masterpiece of a spider web. We all see and experience art differently and that is why it is such a beautiful thing.

  6. I used to love Sherlock Holmes-- it was many years ago, and I don't remember him having any thoughts on art, but it might be about time to pick one up again.


"Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?" ~Walt Whitman


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