This was painted by Bean three years ago. It should have dawned on me sooner that this may be his thing.
Painted by Bean three years ago, when he was Four. It should have dawned on me sooner that this may be his thing.

As I was hanging the boys jeans up to dry yesterday, I noticed that on every one of Bean’s pants – whether school clothes or grungy jeans – there are paint splatters and smears. When I found him painting something in the kitchen yesterday, I scolded him for not setting up his area first. He was painting without a drop-cloth, or the plastic table cloth we’ve had for years for this specific purpose. I have discovered paint blobs on the kitchen floor, on the stainless steel refrigerator, all over the table – which I cannot refinish until the boys grow out of doing this sort of thing with no setup.

But, this morning, as I was doing another load of laundry, I remembered that long ago, a lifetime ago, I knew a mural painter in San Francisco. Every pair of pants he owned had paint on them. His mother would try to buy super nice, expensive slacks for him to wear if he needed to go somewhere important, like a job interview or something, and she would make him promise not to paint in them. Inevitably, they would end like every other piece of clothing, bedecked with paint.

And I realized, perhaps, my Bean is an artist too. I’ve always known Ben is an artist – he’s been sculpting since he was three. But Bean’s artistry has eluded me a little. He likes to take things apart. He likes to put things together. He likes to make messes and forget to pick them up, but it didn’t dawn on me until just now, that perhaps he’s a painter. He’s deeply philosophical and the world of symbolism and expression through metaphor and visual impulses would make sense to him. I think I need to get him into a class down at the Rogue Gallery and Art Center.

Oh, I so understand the need to create right here, right now, with little or no preparation, sweeping the table clean of whatever happens to be there, and scratching out a moment in time on the page. His may be canvas. Mine is pen and ink. And definitely, in the midst of inspiration, working in a mess can be the least of our worries.

Just as we have Ben’s art area moved out of the house, into a section of Barn for a Studio, it’s dawning on me that Bean may be an even messier artist in need of a space to create. Ben’s mess is scraps of cardboard all over the floor. I have to sweep the carpet before I can vacuum. Bean’s mess will be entirely more sticky. So, where to put his Studio? We will figure it out. We always do.

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