Tuesday, February 27, 2007
THE LITTLE ARTIST
THE LITTLE ARTIST
12" x 16"
acrylic on canvas
“Yeah, I did. I used to cut out those pictures of paintings in Reader’s Digest magazines, paste them on pieces of board and make small frames out of it and “hang” them on the wall beside the bed I shared with your dad.”
“Eh Tito Dan, para lang naman maliliit na posters lang yun ah. Hindi paintings” (So, they just look like posters, not paintings.)
“Ah, that’s when I make those little bulbs, attach batteries to them with wires and I have my own spotlights.”
“Parang sa museum?”
“Yes, just like in the museums.”
I was a kid of nine and I shared a bunker bed with my brothers. My space was beside the wall and it was, in a way, special. When my two brothers were outside, either playing or hanging with their possé, I’d be in bed painting and scrawling on that wall. It was a dull, dirty white, uneven enamel affair full of lumps like badly cooked oatmeal. Perhaps the carpenter that did it was either unskilled in wall finishing or was just in a hurry, though I seriously doubt if it really was a carpenter. I think it was our mother who did it. As far as me and my siblings’ collective memories are concerned, we had Wonder Woman for a mom. She did everything from re-arranging all the furniture in one day that can be a nightmare for any blind person, to using salad bowls to carve out our hair ala-Beatles’ style just to save on haircutting expense. (She eventually stopped cutting our hair using her salad bowl when my younger brother ended up having a diagonal pattern at the back of his head. It was “artistic”. He had a haircut that looked like an uneven flight of stairs.)
One afternoon, I found a treasure trove of our father’s Reader’s Digest magazines. Many of them were still new and unopened from their packs. I leafed through them and I was amazed at how good the pages smell and at how clear the pictures were. It was also in one of these magazines where I read of an old woman named Grandma Moses who painted these postcard-pretty scenes of blue houses all covered in snow. In another I read an article about the Versailles museum. I saw how beautiful the paintings were and an idea struck me.
I took scissors, paste, paperboards, some pieces of string, my mother’s nail polish and immediately set myself to task in making a little version of the Versailles on my wall. After an hour of cutting, pasting and painting, I had enough to make my own little museum. With some more rummaging through my older brother’s drawers, I found some flashlight bulbs, batteries and wires and had my own set of lighting fixtures. That evening, as we were lying in bed, I admired my handiwork and had my own little spotlighted museum beside me. I was a happy kid.
The next day though at breakfast, I heard my father asked my mom if she started again on one of her new home decorating hobbies using pictures from his magazines. Strangely, I never knew what my father thought of my little museum when he did find out about it.