Art Imitates Life ... and my difficult child

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by TerryJ2, Sep 24, 2008.

  1. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    There is an artist at the gallery where I have my art, who is an excellent portrait artist. I've taken lessons from her. Her work literally makes your jaw drop.
    She just won 1st pl from a poet laureate for an event where we could choose any poem of the poet's and create something to go with-it.
    The first place artist painted a little boy, resting his head on a window, with-a reflection, and feathers floating down.
    The poet called the award-winning artist a "Modern day DaVinci."

    Ironically, this artist adopted a troubled child about 20 yrs ago, and he had been bounced from foster home to foster home.
    She had never heard of "detachment order" (I asked her) and didn't care to research it (I asked her that, too). She got fed up with-him rifling through her purse, lighitng matches, and lying ... all the things we have gone through for our kids.
    She gave him back ... and he was institutionalized. When she told me that (many yrs ago) I almost threw up. My son was only 5 at the time and I already knew there was something wrong with-him and vowed to stick it out.
    Just heart wrenching.
    Meanwhile, I'm working on my real-life child who is a mess and there is no way I would ever, ever send him back. Where would he go? No way could his bmom or grandmother handle him. Absurd.
    I only work part time, painting and writing, and the artwork I submitted for the show was a piece of cr*p. In fact, my life is kind of a piece of cr*p because I am focusing so much on difficult child.
    It looked like a teenager did my painting.
    But I wanted to attend the event and have a painted piece in it, so what the heck.
    This makes me think of Kay Scarpetta's sister in the Patricia Cornwell series. She writes children's books but is horrid with-children.
    And it makes me think how much I've given up, in terms of my art, and how far ahead in her career this artist is. She has been married 2 or 3 times and is very, very happy with-her husband, her art, her house and her dogs. I've never seen anyone so happy.
    Maybe she just knows how to let go and knows how much she can handle.
    Maybe she has more distinct boundaries.
    But I can't help think that I'm doing the right thing, because when I'm 60 I can paint and write more ... do something literary and creative and not just commercial. Right now, I am filling my canvas with real life and tears and guts and sweat instead of just paint ...

    I have such mixed feelings every time I look at that first place painting and look into those boy's beautiful eyes at the gallery.
  2. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    I do understand disrupting an adoption. Some people can handle the garbage that comes with our kids. Either we knew we were walking into a battle zone from the git go or so fell in love with our kids that it didn't matter. For others, the battle was too hard, too long with little hope that it would ever change. So, I don't condemn those who disrupt. Even knowing about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE), etc. doesn't quite give you an idea of the living hell you're walking into. Not knowing isn't going to change it, either.

    For you and me, the work of art is our child. It is the smile we see on occasion, the hug, the little things that show we have had some successes. For her, her art is a drawing of a child. Personally, I think our art is better.
  3. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    When I was younger, I thought that I wanted to adopt or be a foster parent. It was so wrong the way some of these kids are treated. Luckily, I was never in a position to have tried. I would have been terrible. I made enough of a mess with my own kids.

    Terry, she may be happy happy happy, but if this is her third marriage, there were a couple of times when she wasn't. ;) We don't always know what goes on behind people's walls. That night for that show may have been the only time she was happy. Or maybe she was just putting on a face. She wouldn't be the first artist to come off as everyone's happy best friend that in all honesty was a nasty piece of work.
  4. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    That was beautifully put, MB! And Witz has a good point too.

    I didn't adopt- mine is my own doing- :) or :( depending on the day. But I understand the tears and frustration and the joys and the commitment. My career would be a lot further along, too, and I would have a lot more time to explore those things I'd like to do, just for myself. But as you mentioned, I can do those things at 55 or 65, it's ok. Now, if difficult child keeps going the way he has been and doesn't live at home in a year or so, then I will do them, but I will still be his Mom and I will still be in his life. I can underatnd turning one back in, but I have a little trouble with not looking for a better answer thatn an institution, unless they have been extrememly violent.
  5. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Terry you said it in a nutshell. If she's been married 3 times evidently she's not as happy as she appears, yes, even with this last husband. You, on the other hand, will most likely create in the future more outstanding art than she could ever manage simply because you're filling your life with the NOW, love, memories, hard work, joy, disappointment, gaining experiences most likely far beyond anything this woman will ever have. In the end it will give your creativity far more depth than she could ever manage.

    You're just in a different place than she is right now. :)

    And I hope I stated that so you could understand it. lol

  6. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Terry, everyone goes through life on a different path with different obstacles and with different tools to use through life.
    At least that's how I think of it.
    There were many days when I wished I could disrupt my parenting of difficult child. I wished I had respite weekends and services that would help relieve the tension.
    Many days I wanted to run away from difficult child.
    I don't have an attitude that I am more saintly for not running away or turning away. It was my job and my responsibility.
    Since raising a difficult child, I am less inclined to think what someone else does to survive life is right or wrong.
    A child who is institutionalized is probably not a child who is adoptable even by special needs parents. She allowed him to be safe and supervised and saved herself from harm. I would bet she feels guilt and has chosen to live her life after making the best decision she could for her difficult child and herself. Sacrificing one's life to a child doesn't guarantee success but I sleep more soundly at night.

    You are right, about your art taking a back seat. It's difficult to put your passion on hold and be patient but you are doing what you want to do for your family. It is always a choice.
  7. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I totally understand. You said it beautifully. I don't know if this helps or not (of course I am hoping it does), but people tell me of I have profound wisdom. I do understand that if this is true, it has come from going through great difficulties.
    In addition, although things are still very difficult, there are aspects to all of this that has been easier in recent years since our difficult child is out of her teens. I don't feel like I am the same person I use to be. For example, I have put my writing on hold and wonder when that passion will come back. I have persued other strong interests that don't require the creativity (for now anyway). I am hopeful. At least you are putting one foot in front of the other within your art. Please be patient with yourself and be confident that your wisdom might very well help to give you a perspective like few others have. And soon what you saw in this other artist, you will see in yourself. Sniff. Hugs.
    Lasted edited by : Sep 25, 2008
  8. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Your art will have a life of its own due to the challenges you have faced and overcome. Difficult times with achild - your pictures will have such strong heart that those who see it will feel it. That is what art is about - being able to leave the canvas and reach out to the heart of the viewer.

    You will paint true happiness and great sorrow and this will come from your soul. Your strength will shine through and you will totally enjoy each day.
  9. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Fran said it beautifully.

    I'm an 'artist' on putting on the happy face. Shoot, I should teach lessons.

    Now...on to the important stuff. Show us some art!!! I'd love to see some of your work.

  10. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts


    Any difficult child child, bio or adopted, is a work of art ~ a little person in which you put your whole body of creativity.

    There will come a time when you can concentrate on your artwork, writing - heck, your entire career. Until your difficult child gets to that point, doing those things is a luxury most of us just do not have.

    AND that is what parenting is all about. Of late, kt has been asking me some very pointed questions about why I didn't work full time, or have more friends, why we didn't do more family vacations. She went on to answer some of these questions herself. Then tried to apologize.

    I didn't let her ~ I just told her this is what parenting is all about. Every parent goes through tough times of one sort or another.

    Terry, you will return to your art & writing....if you'd like to call your difficult child your artwork & that helps go for it. I'd rather you think that you are doing the job of parenthood & your difficult child is being raised with love & dignity to become the best he can become.

    by the way, I make no judgments on this other person who disrupted their adoption ~ you've no idea how close husband & I were at one point to disrupting the tweedles. The strongest of people do have their breaking point.
  11. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Thank you all.
    It's just so strange to see that painting on the wall and think, I could have done that ... but he is so real, it's like the missing child. (That must be the writer in me.:) )

    I know, intellectually that all of you are right. But I can't get rid of that knot in my stomach. Sigh.
    Believe me, if I had to cut off my hands to save difficult child from living on the street or something awful, I would. Luckily, it's nothing that dramatic.
    Here's a watercolor of difficult child when he was little and doing the typical toddler thing ...

  12. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    That's awesome, Terry! I love waterecolor- that's one of the things I had explored a little before difficult child was born, then put aside (as a hobby- certainly not professional). You're very talented- I know it's frustrating, but don't worry, that talent won't disappear- it will still be there when you have more time to use it!
  13. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts


    You are a talented lady ~ that talent will stay with you even if you need to take some time off to deal with difficult children issues.

    Sooner than you think, you will start painting again - I used to measure the "health of my family" if I could play a round of golf weekly or get in piano lessons & a recital here or there; now I measure it by the amount of time I paint or sketch.

    It will come again & you will appreciate more. It's always been therapeutic & my secret getaway to do one of my favorite things.
  14. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Awww...I love the painting!! Show us more!

    My daughter and easy child son are incredibly talented as well. She does Sharpie Art.

  15. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Wow-that is incredible, Terry!

    I can't say it any better than others have. You will paint again, you have a great deal of talent.
  16. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I like it. It's my type of art.
  17. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Thank you all. I also paint Italian tiles but they're not the large, artsy art I want to do. They keep me going, though. I'll put them online at some point.
  18. Star*

    Star* call 911


    I paint and draw. I ENJOY it when I enjoy it. Does that make sense? If I'm forced to draw something for someone vs. I suggested I could do it - the painting looks different. It honestly in my eyes is missing something.

    I have compared art work in different mediums from times in my life when I painted and was depressed, happy, content, sad.....and to me the difference is obvious. Depressed art has lots more edgy, Dali look to it. My happy art is glowing and the eyes of the animals are bright and intense I pay attention to details.

    So when you are sitting there comparing that painting by the person who won first place to your art. My first thought is that Art is in they eye of the beholder. My choice of artwork personally varies so much I truly don't have a favorite. So what YOU see (IMVHO) is a painting that is beautifully done, and when things are painted beautifully it must mean the artist was in a place in her mind that was beautiful to create such a work of art. When in fact that picture may not be her BEST work or HAPPY work - it MAY well be that it was a dark painting of her capturing a child that she lost. Whether she gave the child back, and that point is incomprehensible to you - the painting may be some of her dark work.

    It's really odd - I have things around like I said that are my dark art and some people just GO for those paintings. It's like they are drawn to them. Others look at my Dali style stuff and have NO comment (lol) but the people that like the darker art - rarely go for the happy animal art.

    Oddly enough when I was married to x? I stopped painting alltogether and when I divorced I turned out really nice works, and gave them away. I don't keep hardly anything at all. When I see a piece I've done sometimes I don't even recognize it. But I think in my mind - Huh - That's kinda nice - I like it.

    For the record- some people really like those photograph art works - and I do not. If I want a photo - I'll take a photo - If I want a painting - I'm going to paint it in my own interpretation.

    Hope this puts a different perspective on the end of the camel hair.

    van Gogh
    no really - you put gas in it and my van goes.
  19. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Star brings up a good point. I am a really good musician. (Don't mean to gloat.) There is only one instrument you can toss at me that I can't play pretty darn well and that is the guitar. Darn it all. Bass, electric...good, but acoustic? I want to smash the thing.

    BUT...I only play in private. I've always been this way since as long as I can remember. Heck, I won't even play for husband. But, when it's quiet and I get in the mood, I crank the studio up.

    As kids we took piano lessons from my mom until we left the house. She is amazing. For me, that was 14 years, started at 4. If you learn piano, you can learn anything. But, it was a chore for me and nothing pleasureable. I think that is why I play in private. When it feels right, I do it. Same thing with writing. That's why I'm up most nights at 2am. That's when it flows.

    Paint when your heart tells you to. That's probably when you're going to produce your best work.

  20. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I know ... except I've been a bit depressed with-difficult child and I'm trying to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. I LOVE staying up until all hrs painting and writing.

    The painting I did for the show looks flat. Blah. I tried and tried to do something "great" for several wks and actually threw away a cpl pcs.
    When you're in the mood, it DOES show.

    I know it will come back.
    Right now I'm doing my tiles and they look fine. Definitely commercial stuff. But nothing profound.
    It will happen someday.
    Thank you all. :)