My emergence into art.
1954 – I’m 3 years old – lying in bed
Fever rising pencil in my hand staring at the blank white night table
In a semiconscious slo-mo movement of hand/pencil reaching to the target night table
My hazy inspired moment- A SCRIBBLE!! WOW!!
More visions follow – circles, flowers, suns, moons and stars
People- cats and dogs
Each stroke is more and more exciting
101 fever – oh look the night table is growing bigger more to do…YES
My world created…so special…so mine
I have discovered my life long friend the pencil but need new white dresser
Eyes heavy now must sleep
Next morning on the dresser covered in my imagination there’s paper and crayons
In my teen years during the 1960’s, if you put a piece of paper in front of me it was instantly covered by some drawing from my imagination. The 1960’s were turbulent times. Race riots were explosive headline news daily across the country. There was fear and hate I didn’t understand but was fed.
It was the time of school busing and I was to be bused to a junior high school far away with a lot of black teens. I heard about knives in the schools and being told to carry extra money to pay off bullies
I ended up being sent to a boarding school because I was a truant for a year and left back so my mom sent me away to have the nuns deal with me. And I would have to go to school.
Actually I ended up doing well with discipline and I had company with a lot of wealthy girls who were problems to their families. We were misfits trapped in a nunnery in Sag Habor Long Island. But I have to say I did well in school. I only tried to escape once!
Anyway, back to this post of the racial issues. I ended up being accepted by the High School of Art & Design in NYC. My major was fashion illustration. And I always was doing a doodle or drawing every day. My mom rescued boxes of my work and that was the tip of the iceberg.
So one day I had my markers and paper and in my imagination I saw two young black girls and it started with a doodle and became this small drawing. I called it “Sisters”. It was in my mom’s apartment.
In 2005 I found it and showed it to my friends at work. The paper was old but the drawing was strong. One of the secretaries loved it and she offered me an excellent price for it. It spoke to her as a black woman. It was how I related to African Americans in 1965 as a teenager who despised violence and hate. I didn’t want to have fear and in a doodle I saw love.
I have learned that waiting to be inspired to create art can be a very long wait. Days. Weeks. Years. Decades.
I don’t wait for inspiration I start it. With a DOODLE.
The following art began with a squiggly line and the path it took.
I’m sure you guessed the relationship. Daniel Messner is my son. He attends College upstate New York. He also has been an active collaborator in my journey to break my 30 year art block. This post is to honor his love and support to his mom.
First I want to show his artistic expression when he was around 7 years old. When I broke my art block I did at a paint your own pottery place in Brooklyn. He reluctantly came with me but this is what came out of showing up.
Ceramic Glazed Tile by Daniel Messner
This is my favorite tile. Kudos Dan!
Here we are at my first show at the Art Students League in New York. I believe it was 2006.
Pen and marker drawing 1969
Life Drawing 2005
1969 charcoal drawing done at the Art Students League
Watercolor sketch 2000
Pen & wash 1970
Charcoal sketch 2004
Marker & Pencil 1966
They say a good artist begins with learning drawing skills. I mastered my drawing skills beginning with drawing on the furniture at 3. Most of my artwork was drawing people when I began. I wanted to be a fashion illustrator when I was in high school.
Colored Markers 1970
I have wanted to do this post for a long time. My dad was a very talented artist who didn’t pursue it. I only knew him up until the age of 5 when he and mom split. I was either angry at him or blaming myself. The way I dealt with the pain was to erase him from my mind.
A couple of years ago my mom showed me this drawing he did that she saved. Why she waited 50 years to show me I’ll never figure out. She told me he also studied at the Art Students League. I never knew this but I was following in my father’s path.
I guess he had the same beliefs I did about not being able to support himself in art because he ended up being a used car salesman. But then mom told me about how my father was using his talent to help others.
It seems in the 1940s the NYC school system was developing classes to help delinquent boys learn how to get skills for jobs so they didn’t turn to illegal activities. They also introduced them to art. My father was hired as an art instructor. Schools realized culture can civilize.
Then WWII came and he was drafted. But he also had skills as a photographer so ended up being a government photographer in the Phillpines where he was stationed.
I am proud of you dad! (Below is his colored pencil drawing of Lana Turner 1939)
Lana Turner by George Barbella 1939