On the road to visit my parents this past weekend…
I know it sounds odd, considering I’ve virtually kept a daily web log for the past 7 years of my life, but there are many subjects and avenues of my life you’ll be hard-pressed to find me blogging about. Like, for example, my family, my actual flesh and blood. But there are always exceptions to the rule, and since I use the blog to talk about everything which inspires our creative choices with the brand, then I guess I pretty much have to talk about that one person who has influenced my life the most from an artistic and design perspective.
My mom is the best artist I know, and in many ways, that I know of (My dad comes a close second). If there was ever a Renaissance woman… Really. Whether it’s her ink doodles while she’s on the phone or late-night crocheting, she’s always mastered any and every artistry she puts her hands on. When I was a kid, she decided to take up oil painting and within months, she was winning local awards for her artwork. But the one thing about my mom is that once she masters something, she abandons it and never looks back. So for the past decade, her oil paintings have hung in my parents’ garage collecting dust and cat fur. Her paintbrushes are sitting here in my studio.
After the whole oil painting phase, she took up ceramics and pottery. Again, within time, she was garnering accolades and awards from gallery showings. And, once again, she stopped cold turkey. She keeps all her ceramic work in a cluttered mess in the back of a room. There are hundreds of these things.
The past several years, she’s gotten her hands into the ancient art of Chinese Calligraphy. I can’t tell you much about it because, to be honest, I don’t know much about it. For those of you familiar with graffiti, tattooing, typography, and hand-lettering, you’d appreciate the amount of hand/brush-control, structure, and style that goes into painting each Chinese symbol. There are countless styles of writing the thousands of symbols, which tell actual stories or proverbs on lengthy scrolls of valuable paper.
My mom practices for hours and hours on end to get each symbol down right. It always comes down to an extra millimeter that a stroke is off. It not only makes me appreciate the design and aesthetic of Asian writing, but also how stupid it is to get an American tattoo artist to ink a Chinese symbol on your arm if they have absolutely no idea how important the weight and shape of each stroke is.
Surprisingly, my mom has actually stuck with Calligraphy for more than a season, and as a result, she has been internationally recognized for her contributions to the art form. A few times a year, she is invited to exhibit her work in galleries throughout the States, Europe, and Asia. She is most often regarded in the Calligraphy circle for involving a modern twist to the ancient form, something the purists undoubtedly frown upon but is winning the attention of critics. She’ll tweak the layout, incorporate characters, or use hand-carved stones to stamp the calligraphy on instead of using brushes… one time I found her smearing pomegranates in broad strokes, staining the scroll with bright flourish, and introduceing a unique color to a traditionally stark form.
Of course, she’s already got one eye searching for the next lily pad in life, so she’s been really getting into this stone-carving-stamp thing. Okay, if I didn’t know anything about Chinese calligraphy, then I don’t even know how to explain my ignorance when it comes to inkstones and seal carving. But basically, whenever the calligraphers complete their work, they have their own stone stamps that they “sign” the paper with. The stamps start off as ornate flat-ended rocks, or inkstones, and then the artist uses tools to carve out their personalized seal on the butt. Anyways, I guess you can say my mom’s gotten kinda carried away with the whole thing.
Anyways, she’s pretty much the best, and my mom can beat up your mom any day of the week.