I can’t help it.  All my inner squares wish to be heard.  I remembered this story while noticing the tiles in the bathroom, as I wondered if my bathroom tiles could ever possibly inspire me to paint pictures as great as Pierre Bonnard’s fantastical tiles of paradise inspired him to paint Marthe in the Bath.

Anyway, while I pondered, I remembered a time when I was a little girl.  We visited my uncle and his wife and my cousins in Dobbin Heights at their little house on the edge of town.  My cousins were playing with tiles in the paradise that was my uncle’s quirky back yard.  They had tiles of all colors, and we quickly turned the handling of these tiles into a rich game.  Whether my uncle had recently redone his kitchen or whether it was for some other reason that he had all these tiles I never knew.  But they were small tiles about an inch square and there were all sorts of beautiful colors.

I played with my cousins the entire time of our visit, and when it was time to go home my uncle put a large bunch of tiles into a paper bag for me to take home from the family’s huge supply.

And I loved those tiles.  It was one of the earliest times that I became aware of loving color — just loving color plain and deep and pure.

Interesting to notice now that the tiles were a gift.  People often give us the very things we need before we’re even aware of needing them.  My uncle (who has always loved to build things) was thus one of my earliest art teachers.  He gave me a bag full of tiles.

I wonder if some of my readers would be willing to share your art stories?  What got you started along your path of color and line?
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14 thoughts on “One More Little Squares Story about Beginnings

  1. this is a lovely story! my 5 year old loves color and design and it would be easy for me to give him some small tiles to play with and arrange.

    he got a game, blokus, for his birthday, and for a week i let him play with it not knowing there were “rules” and it was competitive. he made such beautiful imaginative designs which carried elaborate stories.

    i became frustrated and gave up on art in 2nd grade (can you imagine?? i remember the moment distinctly). that was class art. trying to make something of interest to me and not just following the directions. my brother is a fabulous cartoonist and my sister does portraits and science illustration and mosaics. i did graphic art, layout design, for newspapers and newsletters. many years later i landed in an art studio as a writer and had the opportunity to show work in our gallery if i wanted so i went for it. that developed into broadsides many of which you can find on a page on my blog.

    thanks for asking

  2. Art Predator,

    The hardest circumstances for beginning art as an adult are probably yours — having relatives who are professional artists.

    However, if you recommence thinking with color and line again at this stage in life, you can always keep it secret a while! Don’t forget that …. And allow yourself as much freedom as you allow your son.

    Many of the skills you use as a poet apply, attention to the things around you, observation, sensitivity, all that.

    Tiles may delight your kid. They delighted me. Every kid is different. What’s great is that you let him find his own way around “the rules.” The heart is really the best teacher. We follow the stuff we love.

    Thanks for commenting.

  3. I would have love to play in that garden!

    Avec cette question beaucoup de souvenirs qui reviennent.
    Ma première boite sérieuse de crayon de couleur/aquarelle Caran d’Ache, j’avais 10 ans je pense.
    Je l’ai promené beaucoup avec moi. Je l’ouvrais et je regardais les jolis couleurs bien rangées…j’adorais ce nom de Caran d’Ache.
    Et la boite de pastel Lefranc Bourgeois que ma grand-mère m’a donné. Je commence a les utiliser apres 40 ans de contemplation.

  4. Wow. C’est beaucoup de contemplation de cette boite de pastel! Heureusment vous les utilisez maintenant. Ne commencez non plus. Utilisez-les beaucoup et fortement!

    My first colors (after the tiles) were Crayola crayons, and everytime I see the big box (with 96 crayons?) — I still get the thrill. I love my grown up artists’ materials. But I love the kids’ version too. Moi, aussi, j’adore le nom de Caran d’Ache. But I didn’t start using Caran d’Ache crayons till after my daughter was born and I couldn’t paint. I got them as a temporary substitute for paint, and then fell in love. They are so fabulous.

    Aren’t we both so lucky?! On a de bonne chance d’etre artistes.

  5. Your story is beautiful, so is the painting. That it is a gift given to you makes a perfect story and beautiful idea, even more so because it is true.

  6. cette boite est comme les madeleines de Proust pour moi, elle est spéciale.
    J’utilise tout le reste.
    Indeed we are lucky to be able to play with all those colours.

  7. cette boite est comme les madeleines de Proust pour moi, elle est spéciale.
    J’utilise tout le reste.
    Indeed we are lucky to be able to play with all those colours.

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