Saturday, September 15, 2012

The door to a heart

Working on the latest creation.
Sam chooses a thick pastel and examines it carefully. Is it the right color? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no and a different color is selected in its place. He confidently places his first, rich splash of color. The color is so intense  it almost startles the white paper. He leans back and smiles, pleased. It is good.

I watch him repeat this process many times over in the next hour or so. Working with unusual focus, he still manages to erupt into laughter or song. Sometimes even a quick dance before returning to the project at hand. I see before me the soul of an artist. 

Sam and I have made a practice of drawing together in the last month. I’ve come to treasure those nights. Sometimes I suggest a subject or set up a still life. Other times Sam creates from his imagination. Still other days Sam defaults to windows, doors, houses and roofs. I wonder about his fascination with these subjects, but he isn’t one to explain.  

With the help of Sam, I hope to find my soul as well. There was a time when I was more prolific, but life got in the way. I didn’t know then a day would turn into a week and just as quickly a year. You don’t know those things. 

These nights are happy times, doing what we both enjoy together – even collaborating despite our differing styles. I am confined by the structurally correct while Sam creates with abandon. I envy the way he confidently approaches an empty sheet; his freedom from technically accurate colors and shapes. I love the energy and passion of his work. I wish I had Sam’s assurance as I struggle to shake off the cobwebs of my former ability.

Today I throw a different twist and request, “Draw love.” For this assignment Sam draws a big heart. To that he adds lines and colors and shapes. What do they mean? I accept I will likely never know. I watch something emerge in the lower left corner. “What is it?” I ask. That answer, I know. “Is a door,” he confirms. Of course, one of his signature doors. After working on this drawing for a few days he finally he pronounces, "Is done" and hands it to me. 

Oil pastel: Door to Sam's Heart.
Tell me about the drawing I ask. Sam points first to the door, then to the heart: "Is door. Is Sam's heart. Door to Sam's heart." I pause, wondering if I heard him correctly. And then I put my curiosity away. Sometimes it is best to accept a gift, no questions asked. Today I am satisfied knowing I have an open door to Sam's heart. Sometimes it is as simple as that.


  1. Lovely. I'm not 100% sure which I live better. The picture of Sam, or Sam's picture.

  2. I love this so much Janet. I look forward to finding this with Helen one day. I think it might be photography. So could I pay Sam to make a piece of art for my home? Think about it and let me know.

    1. Julie, I think Sam would be happy to share some artwork. He is very affordable . :D

  3. One day we need to have (in Sam's words borrowed from Blue's Clues) a Really Big Art Show to feature all of our kid's work: Helen's photos, Sam's pastels, etc...