My Way around Art
My Mum told me two things:
- When I started drawing with coloured pencils she told my I grab them with my left hand. Then she just put one in my right. I cried.
- I won an art contest when I was 4 years old. I can’t remember.
So, I’m left handed and thank god to my parents and teachers I was allowed to be one.
Nevertheless, art was always at my side, but it could have been more in sight.
I grew up in a wonderful home, house and paradise, in the flat countryside of northern Germany just outside the city of Bremen. My great-grandfather had built it with own hands and big effort in 1913 because he hoped his rich parents-in-law would come at least for one visit. Unhappily, he hadn’t been the son-in-law they wanted for her daughter. So, they’d never come.
I loved the big sandpit my father built for me and the great high swing. There were several fruit trees in the garden to circle around and to eat from. My mum was the one for the arts: I sang in the school choir and started playing accordion and piano. I painted not just at primary school but also at home. Indeed, I remember this: I created a beautiful hedgehog at school. I was told to add more leaves – and the hedgehog got hidden under too much of them *sigh* Later I wrote some stories and after a night shift at my desk I put the first finished one in No. 24 of the advent calendar for my parents.
You see, art was around me and I had it as main subject in my Abitur already, but in my family arts were supposed to be just for amusement and education and not for making money – “breadless arts“ is an expression you hear quite often in Germany.
So, I went into my first „breadful“ job at the German railway. Checking wagons, leading trains in the right direction, selling tickets – nothing I had ever dreamt of. I love going by train because you see so many skies, changing landscapes and buildings, and each train takes you to different places and people worth to be painted or to write about, but I quit the job because I was stuck on a signal tower. My husband supported me a great deal.
My next carrier seemed to take me even more far from arts: taxes and book keeping. Indeed, today I know both are very handy if you are an artist. Of course I learned hard, but I knew this work would never be my dream job. So I went on looking for one that as nearer to my loves. In my free time I wrote stories, went to writers meetings and painted portraits from my friends’ photos with my old school paintbox.
Going to university to study German and English seemed so much nearer, but I just learned how to deal with already written literature and not how to write it. Ok, I thought, this could be at least helpful. Improving my English while teaching German for a year in London as also teaching English over here was of great help as well. However, back in Germany I found out at the teacher training that it was not possible to be creative with kids at school. No time although we need creative people these days.
Seemingly from one moment to the other I quit the teacher training, but this time it felt so logic – this time. At the decision day I took over my husbands’ brushes and paints. It was a key moment and diving deep for the reason for quitting again I learned that this was not just to free myself from all the strict duties and rules, but also to leave the content of teaching. Fortunately, I learned I don’t want to work without teaching. However, I wanted to reach people in a personal and emotional way that has more impact on them than learning maths and grammar.