I loved my brother and respected his talents. But…of all the rocks I’ve painted, people like the one with his cartoon character on it most. It’s almost as if he’s back. I hear our art teacher saying to me, “Why are you always hanging around the art room? You don’t have any talent.”
That is not true.
My mom, “You’re the writer, Kirk’s the artist.” That was that, pure and simple. My reaction against this was instantaneous and visceral. Art is not just ONE thing.
For the most part — between us — my brother and I didn’t have any issues over this. Our work was very different AND different people liked his work from those who liked mine. My brother liked my work. In fact, he was my biggest cheerleader — up to a point.
When my work sold, paintings sold, he wasn’t too happy. He should have been since he was always hitting me up for money, but… He got over it. “You’re an abstract expressionist,” he said.
I had to look that up.
“The thing about your paintings, Martha Ann, is they’re not on the public pulse.” That was true.
I have never had any interest in drawing comic strips. I don’t enjoy them very much and to draw the same thing over and over again in order to advance a narrative (that’s the new way to say “tell a story”) seemed tedious. Why not just write the damned thing? But my brother’s comics were hilarious. I have a decent sense of humor it’s more situational than it is a world view.
Still, my brother wanted to do conventional paintings and he did some. I felt his imagination kind of died in that kind of work, but he was hoping to sell them for big bucks.
That led my grandma to say that which was never to be spoken, “Kirk’s a cartoonist. I think Martha Ann is the fine artist in the family.”
My mother’s face paled. Kirk’s reddened. I was pleased, but I looked down at the ground. The taboo had been broken.
Between us it was really not about whose art was better. I helped my brother paint cells for the animated cartoon and he taught me to make paper and sharpen my linoleum carving tools. Really that’s the point. I painted this rock so that Leafy could wander around Colorado Springs (where my brother lived most of the time).