There should be a support group called PAAA. (Parents of Aspiring Artists Anonymous.) “Hello. My name is Shelly. I am the proud mother of …..”
I’ve often consulted Moms and Dads of young songwriters about how to (and how much to) assist their child’s obsession. Now I find myself on the other side asking: how far should a parent go in helping their child create art for a living when we all know how hard it is to make a living as an artist?
The competition is the least of my concerns. If a young person has a true calling and they’re willing to go out into the world and share their light, opportunities will reveal themselves. If you know me, you know I believe this to be true. It’s the post-digital-age-challenge of monetizing one’s work in a culture where the wild west of endless content, “exposure” and “free” has taken over that concerns me more. My songwriter community has experienced this first hand and although I want to protect my daughter, my maternal instincts want to HELP HER IN ANY WAY I CAN.
Still, I usually suggest that parents keep a distance. A student of art, be it a musician, a painter or an actor, has to do the work. We all want to jump in especially if we have the resource or the connections. But sometimes we’re helping our kids more by not lifting a finger. Great art comes from struggle! Right? Besides, I’m a songwriter not a painter. I’m not sure how helpful I could even be.
That said, I believe my girl has the calling, a gift…and the light.
Layla started “making art” as she calls it, when she was little. She rejected organized games and pre-fab toys in favor of sparkles and construction paper, which led to charcoal and sketch pads and then oil on canvas. We set her up with a table and an easel in a spare bedroom. I put dark carpet on the floor so I wouldn’t have to constantly be on alert for spillage.
In 6th grade she sketched nude models in art class. On the way home from school one day I had to contain myself when she proclaimed…”mama, a man’s body from waist down is disgusting.” (Wait my girl. Just Wait.)
Soon after she went to college I was on the treadmill when my phone buzzed with a text. I looked at the screen (as long as I have a child in the world my phone will always be close at hand—even on the treadmill), and there was this: A self portrait. I was like…what?
That’s the day I started taking her very seriously. (Look at the eyes!)
Layla is presently a senior at Georgetown (she clearly doesn’t take after me), majoring in psychology and “Studio Art.” She studies hard, holds down a job, gives campus tours and is working on her website so she’ll have a professional platform when she graduates. She still sequesters herself in that little room and paints when she’s home. It’s her zone. I get it. I’m like that with music.
She does this thing called Crosshatching….
Oil… like this one of my mom…
Side by side honeys.…
Recently, she started getting requests for logos and album artwork, surprised that people would offer to pay her. Take the money, honey. Value art!
I think she hears me because she’s decided to offer up her artistry as a gift idea. And why not? Someone might like to have a little portrait of their love. Or their kitty. Or their parents. Their baby. She can do it. Straight from a photo. Pencil, marker, oil, watercolor. Name the medium. The size. Check out her Insta! Uh oh, it sounds like I’m trying to help!
Maybe she’s thinking…what if I put myself out there and nobody bites? I’m familiar with that voice. It never goes away. Still, you have to take the chance. If it doesn’t work, you get better. You hang in until the right place and right time finally come along.
So there it is. Clearly I believe she has the right stuff, dedication and passion. And so, without further adieu…
Hello my friends! How about that portrait of your love? It’s not your typical stocking stuffer, I know but why not try something different this year? Something unique. Aren’t you tired of finding that same bottle of essential oil, or Toblerone Bar, or scented votive in your Christmas stocking? Well then, a picture paints a thousand words. You can scroll it, tie it up with raffia and slip it right in. How original! Or frame it, wrap it and leave it under the tree. Or commission one for every night of Chanukah. :) Or how about a non-holiday gift? I should think the birthday girl (or boy) will be pleasantly surprised.
And speaking of the holidays, they’re right around the corner. A girl could get backed up so place your order soon! And years from now, when you have a “Layla” original, you’ll thank me as you hang it next to your Warhol.
I’ll leave it to you to discuss the details with my girl. You can email her here.
The where-there’s-a-will-there’s-a-way philosophy is not just magical thinking. I know she’s going to find that way all by herself. I’m just opening a door.
Please come in.