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Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Gift of Art .

Its that time of the year again when time and money are short and we spend a lot of time wishing we had that "perfect" gift. We dread that drive across town in rush hour to get to the crowded mall. When we get there, we glaze over searching for something amazing in the land of impersonal, uninspired and often a million in a million pile of products. We want something that says love, in a place where profit is the goal.

Perhaps we've forgotten a time, long ago, when we presented our mom or dad with something from our own hands. Those quirky ceramic animals, the watercolor on manila, taped to the refrigerator until summer, and lets not forget the wooden key holder you made in shop class. Those gifts were met with squeals of delight and hugs that knocked our socks off. Why, when we are most educated, highly skilled and more adept than ever to know what to give, do we search for our gifts in a mall when all those lovely emotions come free-of-charge with a handmade gift?

What I am trying to say is lets shop locally, as in our own studio. We spend hours producing works of art for others. We struggle to please a commission client. We diligently research subject matter. We practice our craft for endless hours. Why don't we give that energy to those we love. A gift created especially for our friends and family are priceless. Forgo that trip to the store and spend some time on something unique.
To give art from your heart is one of those courageous endeavors. Perhaps we have to get over our father's advice to go into accounting because most artists can't make a decent living. Maybe we have to trust that our moms really mean it when they say, "good job honey, it's beautiful!" There are times when I visit my brother or sisters and see my work on their walls. I would have never predicted that as a young sibling. But now, it is a great feeling to know my work resides in a place of love and honor.

The possibilities are endless. Try sketching a portrait of your beautiful new niece. Write down a few tips and tricks of the trade and gather some charcoal and a good sketchbook for your gifted nephew. Paint a floral that fits in your mom's living room, or stitch up a personalized stocking on the sewing machine. If you have to shop, consider a book filled with the classics or a teaching video to help someone learn a new technique. Art is an amazing gift. It has the power to lift. It soothes, it invigorates and it communicates.

If you don't have time to get something done in time, think about shopping in the gallery downtown where local artists show their works. Often these galleries have a wide range of prices and works to choose from. I personally know many artists who's work I would collect for myself. Sharing your point of view with someone who wants to know more about you is an insightful present. There are also many artistic intangibles, like classes, gift certificates or lunch and an afternoon at the museum of art.

Art is a vital element in our economy. But more importantly, art is who we are. Why would we not want to share something that fills our hearts and minds with color and passion. Now is not the time to put the paints away. The colors of the season and our cultural traditions are abundant and inspirational. Share the love!

Happy Holidays to all! I hope your Christmas is filled with beauty, warmth and affection. I hope your reach is wide and your gifts abundant.