Kim in Baltimore sitting in the heat after foolishly taking all the air conditioners out of the windows.
In August I took a job a job as an assistant to the artist Maxine Taylor. Though art had been my minor in college, nothing compares to first hand experience. I have lately given great thought to what it means to be creative and have gone as far to buy journals to help me develop my own work more creatively. This led me to ask the question: Does our level of creativity form the path we take in life or does it hinder our plans?
My dad was both a creative and talented artist. When I was a child he would sit and sketch my dolls as I pretended to be on the boardwalk at Atlantic City. He would give me the finished sketch and I would hang them up just as my parents did with the portraits we brought home from vacation.
Dad showed such promise as an artist he was encouraged to attend the college of art after his high school graduation by his teachers. My grandmother had hoped that he would work in the advertising department of a big store like Hoschild Kohn. True to form, Dad would not commit himself to Nana’s plan. She told him she would be happy with any career he chose as long as it wasn’t police work. Legend has it he applied to the police academy that day. Their relationship is a column for another time.
Despite joining the force, Dad did not abandon his art. At work he was known for drawing
detailed accounts of crime scenes and designing mascots for the different divisions in the force. At home, in addition to his sketching, he dabbled in jewelry making, ceramics, pottery, velvet painting and interior design. He made a small fortune designing and making chess set, a small business venture he stopped because the demand for his games became more than he could produce. Near the end of his life he had a small mail-order business selling puzzles of police badges from across the country that he had painted.
Dad and Mom, who was an expert seamstress, collaborated on two projects. The first was a Halloween costume for my sister. The year she started crawling they built her a turtle shell. It was cute and she won a prize. We always won prizes for the costumes Mom made for us. Their second project was creating a Bicentennial room in our house. Mom sewed, Dad painted and in the end the room was so red, white and blue it gave us all migraines.
Nana always believed Dad had wasted his talent by joining the police force, but he hadn’t. He had a unique way of observing situations and an uncanny ability to read people. Those were the skills that saw him through a forty year career of solving crimes and retiring as a homicide detective with no open cases on the books. Now, that takes creativity and talent.
Readers, how has your creativity formed your role in life? Tell us in the comments. [Note: Kim is out of town on a writing retreat and won’t be able to reply to comments – but she’s thinking of you!]
How lucky to have such a creative father, Kim. My creativity – and my own father’s – has mostly been centered on writing, even when I was a child. I don’t draw particularly well and can’t sing beyond carrying a tune, but crafting word pictures? I’m there!
My dad was not a writer or reader, but he sure liked to tell me what I should be writing. He thought I should write about him.
Our house was filled with books growing up. I think it is the reason that I love to write and my sister is an organizational consultant.
I agree that a love of books can lead to a love of writing!
Our house had many books as well. My mom was the reader in our family, though my grandmother had quite a few subscriptions to magazines.
What a talented man your father was! It is interesting that he found ways to apply his artistic skills to his work as a detective.
He really was quite talented. I often wonder if he would have pursued that field had he a different relationship with his mother. Though, I must admit, his family was full of talent- especially in music- yet they all had “real jobs” and I believe that is how he felt. Art and music were hobbies, not something you would make a living doing.
Kim, your father was a fascinating man. I love your blogs.
Kim always writes such intriguing posts!
Thank you!! That makes me so happy to read these lovely comments. I have such a difficult time getting all of these stories in writing and often wonder if they’re really that interesting to anyone other than myself.
Maybe it’s all the time I spend as an accountant at mybday job, but I don’t feel super creative. I’ve never been able to draw. And I analyze things so much when I’m trying to be creative that it just isn’t fun.
I’m sure I could learn to bring it back. (See what I mean?) but I’m having more fun enjoying the fruits of others creativity.
Whatever works for you, Mark!
I think anyone who can master math and numbers is creative!
I listened to the live cast of Ann Cleeves interviewing Louise Penney at B’con and I was so jealous that Louise had parents and grandparents that read and recited poetry. No one in my family drew pictures or wrote although most of us were forced fed music lessons. Everyone else in the family are science and math types. If it weren’t for the fact that I have the same hair as them (and am the spitting image of my mother), they wouldn’t claim me. So I’ve totally been on my own in this endeavor even since I was three years old and stealing my mother’s stationary to draw upon.
I missed that interview because my own panel was at the same time! But I did get to hear Louise at another panel – she’s pretty awesome. How interesting that your interests and talents diverged from the rest of your family’s.
I believe everyone is creative in one way or another. If scientist weren’t creative thinkers, where would we be?
We’d have apples dropping on our heads!
I see creativity and problem-solving (or homicide case-solving) as two sides of the same coin. Both involve envisioning solutions, developing hypotheses and approaches, trying stuff out, and persisting until you get to a satisfying resolution.
Good points, Barb.
I agree. He was always working something out.
Why did I never know these things about your parents?!? I did enjoy listening to your Dad’s police stories (even the gory ones) stoop sitting on your Nana’s steps on hot summer nights. You girls were already in bed.
Terry, thanks for reading! I guess you never know what goes on behind closed doors. 😊
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