Growing up as the artist’s daughter

"Phoebe and the Rainy Day Violets" by my mom
“Phoebe and the Rainy Day Violets” by my mom

My mom is an artist, and quite a good one as well. She has done many a fabulous thing in her life art-wise, and has gone through almost all the medias…except pottery. And graffiti art. My sister may have the latter covered though.

Growing up as one of her children meant several things –

One must NEVER touch the Sacred Markers, all lined up in their special stand, that cost like five whole dollars a piece back in 1976, and from which you could totally get high off of. They were fabulous markers, and I understood even then that these were not things you used for coloring books or other such mundane stuff.

One must ALWAYS ask about the suspicious container of something that might look like food in the refrigerator. Because that Tupperware jug full of what looks like lemonade? Special glue. That container of oatmeal-like stuff? Paper pulp. This was such a strict rule that even non-household teens caught on. I can remember the day my friend pulled out something and said “Is this edible?” She was smart to ask, because it wasn’t.

One would eventually be sent on a weird art-related mission. Because my mother is the Queen of Mixed Media Art, and always tries something new. Even if it means sending your tween daughter up to the pet shop to ask for fifty feet of clear tubing.

“Did you mean five feet dear?” the lady behind the counter of said pet shop asked.

“No, my mom needs fifty feet.”

The pair behind the counter eyed me. “Why does she need fifty feet of clear tubing?”

Tween me probably sighed. “She’s an artist. She’s making some sort of wall hanging with it.”


On the flip side, I always had the best covered books in the school because my mom was also Queen of Bubble Letter Making, and could take a paper bag and wrap a book with Martha Stewart-like precision. I still mourn the day my mom decided I was old enough to make my own book covers. I never mastered bubble letters.

As a child, I would take friends on tours around my house, like it was an art gallery….which…actually…it kind of was. “My  mom made this…and this…and this…oh, you have to check out this!”

That last “this” would be her Queen Bee wall hanging, that hung at the bottom of our stairwell. The top was satiny material…into honeycombs…into loops of wool yarn.

“But why is it called “The Queen Bee?” people would ask.

“Find it.”

If you looked carefully, near the bottom, she had embroidered the outline of a queen bee, in thread that matched the fabric.

Yeah, it was cool.

The other favorite to show off was her Yellow Submarine pillow, made of white satiny fabric that was watercolor dyed, scrunched up, little things here and there…and if you followed the trail of bubbles that were embroidered, larger at the top and smaller at the bottom, just under the curve, was a tiny yellow submarine embroidered on it. It was backed with yellow velvet and had fabulous yellow fringe all around it.

There were art fairs to run around in, trips to the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago, then the time my mom took a photography course and set up a dark room in her bedroom closet, another time when she set up silk screen printing in her art room, and of course, the time she ordered a parachute for a project, saw the twinkling in the eyes of my brothers and myself, and said “You may NOT use this to jump out of the second floor window.”

Because my  mother is an artist, not a fool. We totally would have tried it.

This is where someone will ask me “So, do you paint too?”  I used to say no. Art was my mom’s thing. Writing was mine. But recently, I’ve started dabbling. I’m not going to say I’m good. But I am having fun with it.

My decent knock-off version of Rapunzel's wall.
My decent knock-off version of Rapunzel’s wall.


This is part of the 31 Days writing challenge…to find out more about it or read more from this challenge, check out the 31 Days page!