When the mother of my ex-boyfriend died, it struck me in a number of emotionally disabling ways.
To say that this youthful mother of three was a cornerstone in the life of my former mate was an understatement. After not speaking for years, we reconnected in the middle of his struggle with not only a dying step-mother, but the overwhelming tumor in his mother’s brain.
The day that she died, I cried. I found out unexpectedly reading a blog post. I cried alongside her as a mother, I cried in the way that she was always in my head my mother-in-law-but-not, and I cried for the man left behind without the safe embrace of his mother. I was supposed to be there for him in moments like this, we were supposed to be there for each other and, having destroyed that tie between us, there was nothing that I could do anymore.
I remember being especially jolted by this, so much so that I was forced to leave the apartment I shared with a jealous husband in order to cry myself into hysterics without notice. No one would know.
I drew, in crayon and on old animation paper, anything that I could think or feel about her. I folded it and kept it tucked away in my truck, or in my desk at work, so that I could work on it where no one would see but me.
Lyrics from the John Frusciante song, (unfortunately titled):
Good thing you’ve lost the ability to give any and all fucks before having a kid, because life has dropped an anvil on you and your functioning in this world with a child would have otherwise been completely impossible.
So how do you go about making art, the only catharsis you’ve even had?
When I was younger and less aware that other people in the world besides myself existed, and my brain started going haywire, I used to lock myself away in the dark and fly through my music collection until I found what spoke to (or for) me the most. Then I would listen to it on repeat until my ears were on the verge of bleeding. I would do this for weeks on end until I could paint about the situation or forget about it.
As a single mother living with family, I really have no way of doing this. So, as a functioning adult, I make-do when life gets me down. Currently “Easily” is on repeat in the car, blowing out speakers at home when my family is out, blasting from my phone during my pre-opening and post-closing work duties, and when I’m out Ingressing I sing that shit over and over again to myself in the backseat of someone else’s car.
Whenever I need time to myself is the best time to actually include my child in the making of the art. For example, yesterday I came home with a nice 5′ x 5′ piece of cardboard from a work delivery and dropped it down in front of him with a fresh box of crayons as I fired up my soldering iron to try and wood-burn the fuck out of a wolf.
I realized that a few people in particular may mistake the nature of my most recent piece as about them (which is understandable because I do shit like that). So I laid off of the complete A-Z, but normally one would see every. god. dammned. step of this shit until completion. Both for the sake of accountability and for feedback.
Often times a sketch pad or a woodboard or freaking-the-fuck-out isn’t someone you can do. So, get out some paper and journal. Free-flow your thoughts onto paper, make flow charts. Do it at dinner, on work breaks, while having discussions with your mother about where you’re going to get the money for a new car. My mini-sketch book is full of non-sensical gibberish that only myself could understand. Mostly quotes from “Easily”, though.
“Throw me to the wolves because there’s order in the pack, throw me to the sky because I know I’m coming back.”
“The story of a woman on the morning of a war, remind me, if you will, exactly what we’re fighting for.”
“Calling, calling for something in the air. Calling, calling I know you must be there.”