No Pouting by Andrea Borsuk

Does your Mom have any of your original drawings you made when you were five years old still hanging on the refrigerator door, just for old times' sake? I guess mine doesn’t either, but she has a bunch of artwork my brothers and I made when we were in elementary school lining an entire wall in the basement. <-- yeah, not exactly the living room but if it's framed and on a wall, I think that counts for something. 

I don’t have kids of my own, but after working in the arts education realm the past 10 years, I’ve come to save a slew of my favorite scribblings and scrawlings. I appreciate the content immensely: it's real, raw, imaginative, humorous, and uncensored all at once. 

When I learned that the Pajaro Valley Arts Council was hosting “My Mother Thinks I'm a Great Artist” featuring the work of 20 local artists from Santa Cruz county, I was delighted. It's not everyday an exhibition space features established artists showcasing current work alongside their original childhood pieces. Moreover, the way these artists delve into their pasts to reflect on their creative processes builds another beautiful layer full of meaning, memories, and pays tribute to the significant role arts education has played in their lives. 

Andrea wrote the following statement to accompany her work in this exhibition. I met Andrea in the copy room at the museum I work at five years ago. She was making copies for an art class she was teaching on Monday afternoons, and I was embarking on using the giant paper cutter (for the first time ever in my life) for a Family Art Day. I guess we didn't know it at the time, but we were both prepping to make space for people to be artists----to blend new colors, draw outside the lines, and dip into more creative routes.  

If you're in the Santa Cruz area, I highly recommend you check out this My Mother Thinks I'm a Great Artist this weekend (it closes on Sunday!) /// Pajaro Valley Arts Council: 37 Sudden St, Watsonville, CA 95076 | Hours 12:00-4:00pm | Closing Reception: September 24, from 2:00pm – 4:00pm.  All are welcome. -emidobz

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When I was a child, I remember that beautiful new box of 64 Crayola colors. I would open the box and breathe in the waxy smell. Then I would try out every color, lightly pressing the tips as to spare each beautiful point. The crayons felt vast. Sixty four was A LOT of colors!!! How many yellows! Greens! Blues! I would attribute each hue to a certain person in my elementary school classroom. It seemed that there were colors that were specific to each child: David B obviously was Cornflower, Tina was Magenta, Garth was Goldenrod, and I was Periwinkle, still my favorite color.

I loved to work in coloring books. I could not get enough of those big, stupid mass produced images: Disney, Barbie, The Flintstones, and if, at the market after our Sunday night dinner, I was not allowed to get another coloring book, I would pout BIG TIME.

 One night, while my father was driving us back home, I was pouting in the back seat of our car and thinking nasty thoughts about how mean my parents were because they said, “No, you have enough coloring books!”. I knew my parents knew that I was angry and I was relishing that moment. Suddenly, my father slammed on the car brakes. We had hit a dog. I had a horrible feeling that my negative thoughts had somehow made this event happen. That night, I found a coloring book page that had some blank space. I remember trying to draw that dog laying on the street, in the glare of our headlights. I was immediately dissatisfied at my drawing— I had been so dependent on drawing “inside the lines” that my confidence was poor.

When I had my own children, coloring books were not an option. My rules were simple: draw your own pictures. I always supplied big sheets of blank paper. I also taught my children how to mix new shades for colors and invent and name new ones. They never asked for coloring books (fortunately) and they never pouted about it. I think they always knew that if they felt they couldn’t draw something, the question to ask was, “what shapes could it be made of?” To this day, my daughters enjoy drawing and painting. They are confident and expressive artists.

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I still struggle to draw, even though I have been teaching drawing and painting for 35 years. But my favorite aspect of making art is always mixing colors— especially ones that feel like my own invention. I don’t pout anymore either. Never found out what happened to that dog. -Andrea Borsuk

emily hope dobkin