This is the chair that launched my whole beach theme. It was the first one I painted for my last client, for a family of four siblings, plus a cousin (five boys, one girl; we’ll talk about Lulu later). It was also the first time I started playing with the idea that the unadorned wood tones represented the sand, an idea that I just loved–the bird tracks absolutely delighted me as a concept. From here I moved on to the Tommy, then the Will, and then back to the surfboard theme for Ben–and I’m thinking the beach theme probably has a few more versions to spawn before it plays out…like maybe a more girly version of the Jack, couldn’t you just see it with lipstick pink Hawaiian print? Obviously it would necessarily be named the Jill. Obviously.
And in the process of painting this one, I discovered who my most helpful and appreciative critic is, after my mother: my son. Mom and I, we go waaaaay back with the collaborative thing, so that was not news. My son however–who just turned 7–was the big surprise, even more so when I discovered I really value his input and insight. Case in point, I started to worry (self-doubt, my nemesis, hanging around again) about painting flowers on a chair for a 1st grade boy–would he think it was too girly, would it insult his manliness (boy-liness…)?
Enter Colin. He loves to see what I’ve been working on, and because he loves his Mommy and wants me to know he’s proud of my artistic ability and especially of being consulted, he really takes his time verbalizing what he sees. This means I get to hear exactly how one child, at least, responds to my ideas.
“Ohhhhh, I get it–” (this is always how he starts)–”those are the surfboards and they’re standing up on the sand! Ohhhh, and the palm tree is growing out of the sand, and that blue part is the sky! Oh, cool, look at the starfish! Niiiice.” This is high praise.
Then, being the devious Mommy that I am, I ask him about that orange stuff around the seat. Not even a pause.
“Oh, yeah, that’s the swim trunks.”
Self-doubt, eat your heart out, the seven year old has spoken. Simple as that.