Art, Discovery, and the Nurture of Mom

It's so easy to get lost amongst the noise and activity. It's even easier to lose sight of who God made us to be as we find our lives redefined by children's needs, homemaking responsibilities, and school. It's true-- in this vocation of mother, our job certainly entails those things, but sometimes who I am gets lost in the shuffle. I don't mean that I want to quit and go do something else, it just means I have to work a wee bit harder at keeping Kendra in the mix.

Know what I mean?

Several weeks ago we found ourselves with a weekend that had been set aside to go surfing, but my husband and I were just too wiped out. We were more in a "go stare at art" mood, or at least a long car ride that would afford us the time to talk and dream and see new things.

We had read about a tiny hidden town on the northern California coast called Bolinas. Filled with artists and hippies and those who like to have a town all to themselves, the residents of Bolinas take down the road signs on the main highway so that fewer people end up visiting. It's funny! But GPS in hand, we made one wrong turn before we found our way to the little hamlet that is Bolinas.


Chasing birds near Bolinas


We weren't disappointed. Hippies, yes. And a terrific little museum that surprised us; it had some really fabulous art and a great display of Bolinas history. If you're into history, you might have been as fascinated as we were.

I was lolling through one of the museum's rooms when my daughters came running to me, "Mom! You've got to see this artist! He's painting birds and it's really neat!" I made my way into the artist's studio and began to chat with him. His art was stunning, and his studio afforded him a view of the bird feeders hung along the patio outside. He told me that he illustrates field guides, and I thought about how many times I'd used those guides in our homeschool but had never actually stopped to consider that someone had painted them. (I know- duh.) He's been working on the current project for 13 years, with just 6 months to go.

What a fascinating guy! It gets better, though. He told me he grew up in a family of 6 children, and that 4 of them make their living as artists. He said his mom would sit them all down at the kitchen table and just teach them to draw. "It was her sanity, I think!", he said.

As the conversation progressed, he mentioned his home town. "I was born and raised there!", I said. We went to the same high school. His younger brother was a friend of my oldest brother. His dad owned the hobby shop near our home. And then it dawned on me who this family was-- their artwork is all over my home town!

Want to see? Keith Hansen is the bird artist we met, and here's his work. His oldest brother Doug was the artistic director for the Fresno Bee, illustrates wonderful children's books, and also illustrates author Mas Masumoto's books. If you've never read Mas' books, you're in for a treat. Start with this one:


Anyway, back to those Hansen brothers. The brother who was a friend of my brother is Craig, and he's written this amazing little book about palindromes:


This led to a discussion with my kids about palindromes, which led to several funny Facebook comments between my sons and me, written in palindrome style, of course.

I tell you all this not to simply wax poetic, although I do like the ability to journal bits and pieces from our lives here. I tell you this story because I want you, too, to remember who you are and how God made you. You don't have the passions you have or the talents you possess by accident; those are God-given so that you can bless others and magnify Him!

What interests you? Can you grab your kids and take them there? Are you the mom who could end up with a whole bevy of artists simply because you took the time to share your passion for art? There's a reason God wired you the way He did, and it wasn't so you could put it all on the back burner.  

Would you share what nurtures you in the comments?