I attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison, which was a wonderful and desperate experience. I was so sick during this time period that it was a struggle. But, one semester, I don’t remember what year, probably 2005 or 2006, I took an art class.
My professor came down on me hard for making everything look cartoonish, but that’s a story for another day.
Anyway, one of our assignments was to sit and do a full sized pencil piece of something architectural on our largest paper. She expected it to take us at least 4 hours and be highly detailed.
To do this assignment, I walked to State Street, picked a random building, and walked inside.
Right here, in fact:
You can find more about them on their website.
The main entry way fit my requirements, so I sat in there for hours drawing, and then spent time at my dorm cleaning up the drawing. I’d say I spent something between six and eight hours on it.
And, as I often do when I create a piece, I hated it when it was done.
But, I’d put too much work into it to throw it out. Ignoring the fact that it was drawn on newspaper quality paper, it was a nice piece.
My grandmother had wanted a piece of my artwork for years, so for Christmas my parents framed it, and it was our gift to her.
In her later years, she had dementia, and she took the drawing down and insisted to anyone who tried to rehang it that they couldn’t because the lady who drew it would be coming back for it.
It was both touching, because she remembered me in some fashion, and heartbreaking.
She had a family friend who came in and helped care for her and cleaned her mother-in-law addition on our house. This friend loved the piece and teased her about stealing the drawing away just to rile her up a bit.
When Grandma died, that family friend only wanted that drawing.
It hung in her home for over a decade, and she would tell guests she knew the artist.
Now that friend is dying, and she wrote in her will that she wanted the piece returned to the original artist.
What once left my hands as something I hated, became something that my grandmother treasured, her friend treasured.
I look at the drawing, and I don’t see the flaws anymore. I see a Grandmother who loved me. I see a friend who only had one piece of art hanging in her house, looking at it everyday.
It’s more than a piece of art now.