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Evelyne Schoenmann

Qotw: Is Your Artistic Practice A Product Of Genetics Or The Environment?

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Dad was a 30 year career Navy officer specializing in security. Mom was a housewife. Grandparents did as Pres's did - helped in the war effort by welding in the Mobile, AL shipyard. Grandma was the first woman welder in Mississippi. They went back to being a truckdriver and housewife with huge gardens. Grandpa on Dad's side continued in welding as his profession - mainly repairing logging trucks and farm equipment in Mississippi. Grandpa on Mom's side could play most any musical instrument he picked up. This would be the only artistry in our family.

 

When I was a kid I loved to buy the model planes and cars and such and painstakingly put them together in a neat manner with decals in the right places. Little brother would gob glue on everything and just mush it all together - I guess that could be creative in a way.

 

I too was groomed for college, no art classes, ever. I just kind of fell into pottery in college and it was fun. Started taking art classes, it was fun. This just irked Dad to no end - he wanted an accountant. Took a 7 year hiatus from college. Went back and got 2 degrees the accountant for him and the programmer for me. And I just pushed the artist in me further into the background for 30 years.

 

Till now.

Dh;

That's a tough story. I have taught many a student in my high school art classes who may not persue a career in art because of their culture or parents. They are forced to do statistics, or accounting. Nothing wrong with those directions, but if you have an artistic bone in your body, this is where unhappiness starts.

TJR.

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Trying to think if either of my brothers are artistic and one works for a crop dusting company that builds special built million dollar choppers. My other brother is special needs but has never shown, at least to me, any desire to be creative. My father gave me my no nonsense approach. He always said if you are going to do something do it right, do it the best you can and never get sloppy or cut corners. He also taught me that a girl is just as capable of using power tools as a boy. My mother is a magician with fabric. She designs and makes the best teddy bears you have ever seen. She is also a brilliant quilter. She would give me art supplies but never gave me a list of this is what you have to do with them she let me experiment and find my own creative voice.

 

I was home schooled for the most part. I do remember when I was real little watching my mother sketch out things and wishing I could do that as well. She made me hand drawn paper dolls with little designer outfits from magazines, I still have a box of them. I mentioned the story of wanting to draw like her when I was a child to her about a year ago and she said that I had far surpassed her in this area. I was very flattered as I still feel I am not good enough and that I have to get better at it.

 

All my life I remember the craving to CREATE. To make something anything wonderful. As a child the best holdiday gifts were art supplies and books. Heck those are STILL the best gifts. I got married young and directed my creative urges into designing clothes for myself and my daughter, I designed outfits without using patterns, if I could see it I could deconstruct it and make it again. As my daughter got older and wanted store bought Mom seriously, I took an at home correspondence art course and it was fabulous, all the thoughts and colors finally got connected to my hands. I took some artist workshops, one with Daniel Greene, that opened doors in my mind filled with colors and patterns. I drew, painted, designed until the stockpile was overflowing and My husband suggested I try selling some of it. To my surprise they sold and here we are over 25 years later and I look back and am surprised at how long I have been making a living selling my creations.

 

Most of the creative people in my family tree do it with fabric. I have an Aunt that designs wonderful purses and sells them in small boutiques for small fortunes lol. I have Aunts that quilt and sew and I have uncles that work with wood making beautiful hand crafted heirloom furniture pieces, the stuff you pass down in your family for generations because it just gets better with age. I do know of one cousin that designs and sells high end jewelry and does really well at it. One of the things my family always did was our holiday gifts between aunts, uncles and cousins all had to be hand made by ourselves. They saw it as a way to level the price field with differing incomes and I don't think they realized at the time that it also gave all of us an appreciation for hand made items.

 

So I guess the answer is I was given a fertile creative field to grow in and blossomed when I dedicated the time to work at improving it.

 

T

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Trying to think if either of my brothers are artistic and one works for a crop dusting company that builds special built million dollar choppers. My other brother is special needs but has never shown, at least to me, any desire to be creative. My father gave me my no nonsense approach. He always said if you are going to do something do it right, do it the best you can and never get sloppy or cut corners. He also taught me that a girl is just as capable of using power tools as a boy. My mother is a magician with fabric. She designs and makes the best teddy bears you have ever seen. She is also a brilliant quilter. She would give me art supplies but never gave me a list of this is what you have to do with them she let me experiment and find my own creative voice.

 

I was home schooled for the most part. I do remember when I was real little watching my mother sketch out things and wishing I could do that as well. She made me hand drawn paper dolls with little designer outfits from magazines, I still have a box of them. I mentioned the story of wanting to draw like her when I was a child to her about a year ago and she said that I had far surpassed her in this area. I was very flattered as I still feel I am not good enough and that I have to get better at it.

 

All my life I remember the craving to CREATE. To make something anything wonderful. As a child the best holdiday gifts were art supplies and books. Heck those are STILL the best gifts. I got married young and directed my creative urges into designing clothes for myself and my daughter, I designed outfits without using patterns, if I could see it I could deconstruct it and make it again. As my daughter got older and wanted store bought Mom seriously, I took an at home correspondence art course and it was fabulous, all the thoughts and colors finally got connected to my hands. I took some artist workshops, one with Daniel Greene, that opened doors in my mind filled with colors and patterns. I drew, painted, designed until the stockpile was overflowing and My husband suggested I try selling some of it. To my surprise they sold and here we are over 25 years later and I look back and am surprised at how long I have been making a living selling my creations.

 

Most of the creative people in my family tree do it with fabric. I have an Aunt that designs wonderful purses and sells them in small boutiques for small fortunes lol. I have Aunts that quilt and sew and I have uncles that work with wood making beautiful hand crafted heirloom furniture pieces, the stuff you pass down in your family for generations because it just gets better with age. I do know of one cousin that designs and sells high end jewelry and does really well at it. One of the things my family always did was our holiday gifts between aunts, uncles and cousins all had to be hand made by ourselves. They saw it as a way to level the price field with differing incomes and I don't think they realized at the time that it also gave all of us an appreciation for hand made items.

 

So I guess the answer is I was given a fertile creative field to grow in and blossomed when I dedicated the time to work at improving it.

 

T

Great story, Pugaboo. I like the the creative field analogy.

TJR.

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TJR, You are right about the unhappiness. My wife, who knows me very well after 30 years, has said many times how much happier I am since my journey back  into pottery. Feels like a weight has been lifted.

 

Who knew a little mud between your fingers could do so much for your well being; and in so many different ways?

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TJR, You are right about the unhappiness. My wife, who knows me very well after 30 years, has said many times how much happier I am since my journey back  into pottery. Feels like a weight has been lifted.

 

Who knew a little mud between your fingers could do so much for your well being; and in so many different ways?

Well, the studio feeds my spirit. Even just knowing that I have a place to work is energizing. Of course most of the creativity happens in my head. You want a place where you are not always moving tools or other junk to get to a flat surface. Having to always put stuff away can be draining as well.

I go out there, the heat is on[in winter], I hop on my wheel and start making.

TJR.

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Mother taught high school then collage-Older brother taught art (lithography) at UCSB in Santa Barbara for 25 years-older sister taught elementary for 35 years-Father sold insurance?? ya square peg in a round hole -another older brother was an artist who enjoyed clay(had a class from Paul Soldner) in Pasadena in the 60's- All gone now except my sister.

SArt is in my blood-creative thinking is the usuall around here.

TJR-I have had a large garden for 42 years now-whats up with that?

Mark

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Mother taught high school then collage-Older brother taught art (lithography) at UCSB in Santa Barbara for 25 years-older sister taught elementary for 35 years-Father sold insurance?? ya square peg in a round hole -another older brother was an artist who enjoyed clay(had a class from Paul Soldner) in Pasadena in the 60's- All gone now except my sister.

SArt is in my blood-creative thinking is the usuall around here.

TJR-I have had a large garden for 42 years now-whats up?

Mark

Long story. My great grandmother was an Austin-as in Austin cars-Austin -Healy, Austin Cambridge. She was a millionare-her family was that is. She fell in love with the gardener and was disowned. So we didn't inherit the money, we inherited the green thumb. My sisters both garden as well.

TJR.

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You know what, Tom? I have to thank you again for this interesting topic. I must admit that only in reading the posts here did I get to reflect on whether my parents or siblings are/were creative too or not. I "snootily" thought until now that only we artists, ceramists, painters, wood turners, art producers etc. are the real creative people. But no! If you think it over, gardening is a very creative thing to do. And also my brother as a kindergarten teacher is creative when he carves faces or animals out of vegetable so that the kids eat them during break time. And why not my sister: she was a single parent of two girls and I am sure she was creative in organizing their life as well as tinkering with the girls. And that my mother was drawing in her youth, I already told you. So I would say I didn't exactly got the creativity in my blood stream congenitally, but the whole family was creative in one or the other way during life.

 

Btw: One of my sis daughters will get a Baby in January. That makes me a 4th time a great-aunty already :rolleyes::lol:

 

Evelyne

 

 

PS: I just read Tom's millionair story. Hey, better to have a green thumb! You can loose money, but, if you are careful, not your thumb....

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You know what, Tom? I have to thank you again for this interesting topic. I must admit that only in reading the posts here did I get to reflect on whether my parents or siblings are/were creative too or not. I "snootily" thought until now that only we artists, ceramists, painters, wood turners, art producers etc. are the real creative people. But no! If you think it over, gardening is a very creative thing to do. And also my brother as a kindergarten teacher is creative when he carves faces or animals out of vegetable so that the kids eat them during break time. And why not my sister: she was a single parent of two girls and I am sure she was creative in organizing their life as well as tinkering with the girls. And that my mother was drawing in her youth, I already told you. So I would say I didn't exactly got the creativity in my blood stream congenitally, but the whole family was creative in one or the other way during life.

 

Btw: One of my sis daughters will get a Baby in January. That makes me a 4th time a great-aunty already :rolleyes::lol:

 

Evelyne

 

 

PS: I just read Tom's millionair story. Hey, better to have a green thumb! You can loose money, but, if you are careful, not your thumb....

That's funny! I will try to not lose my thumb.

Tom.

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Still time to get in on the QOTW. Are you an artist because of your family environment[genetics], or because of your surroundings?

I want to thank everyone who contributed their personal stories. I always like a good story.

Thanks to Evelyn for letting me but in with a great idea for the week.

Tom.

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Always so fascinating to hear about different backgrounds and how people got to this point in time. Both my parents are doctors; my mother is definitely the creative one (sewing, decorating, gardening, drawing) whereas my father is quite skilled in creative writing. I don't know too much of my father's side of the family because my grandparents died when I was fairly young, but I never saw or heard anything that would make me think there were any artistic streaks there. My mother's side of the family however is quite different; her grandmother was an artist/sculptor in Germany and England before World War II and my grandmother went to art school as well. I like to think that part of my artistic practice is genetic :)

 

In reality however, it's likely to be a combination of genetics and environment. My mother was quite creative in getting us to have projects that we would work on growing up but somehow my brother never stuck with art projects beyond a certain age and I kept going back to it.  

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This one was actually a little hard for me to answer. I don't want it to sound like a therapy session. I have had a sometimes bizarre combination of unconditional acceptance for who I am, and a never ending stream of variations of the question "are you sure about this whole art thing as a career?"

 

I have a lot of broken artists in my family tree. People who were creative, but not allowed a "high A" artistic outlet.

It was said in my family that if my Dad couldn't fix something, it couldn't be fixed. An inventor, he was always tinkering, his mind never still. He was obliged to go into Telecom, a "smart" profession by his Dad, my Opa who was from Germany. My Dad was miserable doing this, as he bowed always to what was "needful" and doing the right thing by being a provider to the family. No room for unmanly frivolities like art. Opa was fighting for Germany in WW2 and was in hospital when the war ended. He escaped a Russian Gulag by forging documents using a hand carved potato stamp. He might have been an artist had circumstances been wildly different.

My mother's side were farmers, and often if you wanted something purchasing it was out of the question. So you made it. No one considered artistic merit in what they did, even though its present in spades. It's simply what one did. Like breathing.

 

There is much inherited skill in my hands.

 

I was expected to get a degree of some kind, and I had chosen physiotherapy. I am not sure that I was expected to actually have a career, rather I was supposed to find a husband in college. I can't confirm this; My Dad is gone and my Mom isn't saying. When I told them I was going to art school, I was told I should keep art as a hobby because no one ever makes money at it, and did I really want my heart broken that badly when I failed? After making it clear that I was doing it regardless (I have much inherited stubbornness!) my parents shrugged and helped me through college as previously agreed. And then 5 years later my Dad told my husband that he was relieved someone was there to look after me, and would see me housed and fed. (Face palm). He was deathly afraid of self employment.

Thing was, I saw how miserable he was by denying his own creativity, and I wanted nothing to do with that. As much as you try to do things to please others, they will never quite be happy with you. If what you are doing to please others make you unhappy too, then you are both miserable. And I am not responsible for anyone's happiness other than my own. So clay it is!

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This one was actually a little hard for me to answer. I don't want it to sound like a therapy session. I have had a sometimes bizarre combination of unconditional acceptance for who I am, and a never ending stream of variations of the question "are you sure about this whole art thing as a career?"

 

I have a lot of broken artists in my family tree. People who were creative, but not allowed a "high A" artistic outlet.

It was said in my family that if my Dad couldn't fix something, it couldn't be fixed. An inventor, he was always tinkering, his mind never still. He was obliged to go into Telecom, a "smart" profession by his Dad, my Opa who was from Germany. My Dad was miserable doing this, as he bowed always to what was "needful" and doing the right thing by being a provider to the family. No room for unmanly frivolities like art. Opa was fighting for Germany in WW2 and was in hospital when the war ended. He escaped a Russian Gulag by forging documents using a hand carved potato stamp. He might have been an artist had circumstances been wildly different.

My mother's side were farmers, and often if you wanted something purchasing it was out of the question. So you made it. No one considered artistic merit in what they did, even though its present in spades. It's simply what one did. Like breathing.

 

There is much inherited skill in my hands.

 

I was expected to get a degree of some kind, and I had chosen physiotherapy. I am not sure that I was expected to actually have a career, rather I was supposed to find a husband in college. I can't confirm this; My Dad is gone and my Mom isn't saying. When I told them I was going to art school, I was told I should keep art as a hobby because no one ever makes money at it, and did I really want my heart broken that badly when I failed? After making it clear that I was doing it regardless (I have much inherited stubbornness!) my parents shrugged and helped me through college as previously agreed. And then 5 years later my Dad told my husband that he was relieved someone was there to look after me, and would see me housed and fed. (Face palm). He was deathly afraid of self employment.

Thing was, I saw how miserable he was by denying his own creativity, and I wanted nothing to do with that. As much as you try to do things to please others, they will never quite be happy with you. If what you are doing to please others make you unhappy too, then you are both miserable. And I am not responsible for anyone's happiness other than my own. So clay it is!

Diesel;

It sounds like a lot of people had this experience with their families. People denied their talents and interests in order to support a family.I'm glad that you were able to go to art school and make your own career choices.

TJR.

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Diesel;

It sounds like a lot of people had this experience with their families. People denied their talents and interests in order to support a family.I'm glad that you were able to go to art school and make your own career choices.

TJR.

 

You and me both, Brother!!

I have been blessed with some supportive people in my life, as well as some good circumstances. Having seen the denial of ones voice cause so much grief, it seems a sin to waste what I have been given by not using my own.

Callie

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Diesel;

It sounds like a lot of people had this experience with their families. People denied their talents and interests in order to support a family.I'm glad that you were able to go to art school and make your own career choices.

TJR.

 

You and me both, Brother!!

I have been blessed with some supportive people in my life, as well as some good circumstances. Having seen the denial of ones voice cause so much grief, it seems a sin to waste what I have been given by not using my own.

Callie

One of the happiest days of my life was when I got the letter saying that my portfolio had been accepted for Art School. My dad quietly asked how I was going to make a living, but he was artistic too and never caught the breaks. I went for 4 years, got my degree. Put myself through by teaching. I realized that the teaching could give me the opportunity to have studio time. I crossed over to the dark side and got my B.Ed. Been teaching high school art for 29 years. I go back Sept.8. Still looking forward to it.I think this will be my last year, but I have three teenage mouths to feed. Didn't plan that very well!

Tom.

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i worked for the largest corporation in the world for many years. having two kids and no help,  i had a great deal of trouble getting to work every day on time.  i remember reading the company newspaper about a man in Richmond who was retiring after 40 years.  all they could say about him was that he was never late.  how sad, i thought.

 

years later, the boss had to visit my home when i was sick and when he came in he saw all the pots and other things we lived with.  he looked around, wondering and amazed and said, "You're an artist, that explains it."  never knew what the comment explained but he seemed gentler after that.

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I can't say my genetics led to being a potter, but my family heritage includes farmers and inventors.

I think that may be why I like to tinker and make tools for specific jobs.I guess the closest I have is my Irish great great grandfather made plaster decorative pieces on the ceilings of Victorian houses. And I am somehow related to the Arts and crafts printer, William Seltzer Rice. Abraham Seltzer was in the Textile Industry in Germantown and Jonathan Seltzer was at Enterprise manufacturing in Kensington Philadelphia, and George Selsor patented numerous pieces for his company, Germantown Tool works in Germantown, Philadelphia.His Coffee grinder was in the Industry Building in the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Phila.  I have been doing a lot of genealogy in my retirement.  :rolleyes:

Marcia

I had to google the coffee grinder to see if it was what I had in my mind's eye.  Yup!  http://365project.org/digitalrn/365/2011-05-25

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Hi, I believe genetics and environment has cause me to follow the path I have taken through life and my arts practice. I come from a family of artisans and a minority race of makers and entertainers, the gypsy. I was surrounded by family members making with their hands. My father was a master at dry stone wall building and his father was a master carpenter, even when my grand father  went blind he took up basket weaving as he could feel will his hands the quality of his weave. From an early age myself and my siblings would dig up the clay that was just under the soil in our garden and make objects. The area in which I grew up was also rich in Roman remains and so you were always coming across shards of their pots when digging the earth.

 

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Guest JBaymore

So hard to say how this stuff happens.  All I know is that when I touched clay in a ceramics 100 undergrad elective course in college.......  I had found "home".   I changed my major by the end of that semester. 

 

I lived in the art room in High School.

 

I have a multi-generation family history that traces back to the Mercer and Cook potteries in Trenton, New Jersey (yeah... I'm a 'Joisey Boy') starting in the mid 1800's.  One of my relatives was even the head of the kilns and firing operation!  So there might be a long-term "genetic" component involved.

 

My mom was a public school teacher and very 'arts' oriented.  She was a constant maker.... textiles...... knitting, crocheting, tatting, and sewing.  My dad was an interior decorator and musician (leader of the 1st Army Band in the European Theater of World War II).  So there is both some environment and some genetics also.

 

Long hard road... but I've never looked back.

 

best,

 

....................john

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John and all, this is so interesting! Not for the first time do I read a sentence like this: All I know is that when I touched clay in a ceramics 100 undergrad elective course in college.......  I had found "home".

It happened to me too, at the "methusalemian" (I just invented this word!) age of 45. (John, I was an interior decorater and then a musician too..).

 

Maybe the clay is looking for us?!

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