Laume Zekas’ comments on my posts about Play were so interesting and so thought-provoking for me that I asked her if I could share them in a post, along with her name and a link to her blog. She generously agreed, and here is what she had to say about play in her own creative life.
About how she plays now, as an adult, she commented, “Hmmmm, this is sort of a hard question. Not because I don’t play, I play a lot, but because I’m not sure what to define as play and what to exclude. If you watch children play, they ‘play at work.’ They’re always pretending to build airplanes, take care of babies, answer telephones. This is their play. So, if you grow up, and do those things, and are still having fun at it, is it still play? If you get paid for something, does it then automatically fall out of the play category? Moving on, how do I play? Well, I dress up as a faery or pirate or other magical being and have tea parties in the woods with people. Yes, I really truly do, I’m so damn lucky. I also like to hike, play at the beach, do word puzzles, play board games with friends, dance, play pretend with my grandkids, play with my pets, climb up to Swing Hill and swing out over the valley far below, lay outside in the dark and watch for falling stars….”
About how her childhood play influenced her creative life today, she noted, “I’ve thought about this before because I think about how my childhood was the same or different than my children’s childhoods, and from my grandchildren’s childhoods. Until I was ten, we lived far out in the country, so much of my play was solitary. I had two younger sisters, and we did play together sometimes, and later I attended an elementary school in town and so I saw other children regularly, I had friends. What stands out for me, what I remember most though, is that I didn’t miss my friends when I was alone and I never felt alone. I spend gobs and gobs of time outside wandering alone in the woods, by the lake. When I wasn’t outside, I recall playing with dolls, stacking toys (Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys – this was pre Lego era), toy cars, that sort of thing. It was also pre “Disney Princess” influence and pre television (therefore pre commercial) influences, so my play was far more gender neutral than I see most kids play these days. Probably in equal measure however I was already doing “art” – I painted, sketched, made doll clothes, built forts, sculpted with wire, wrote stories. I had a couple of children’s books that I loved, one was Mud Pies and Other Recipes. I think the magic, whimsy, and at the same time utter seriousness in which it accepted children’s efforts charmed me. The other wasn’t a book, but a Catholic children’s magazine my mom subscribed to for us that had articles about how to play in nature. And speaking of books, I probably spent as much time as a child reading than anything else. How does all this connect to who I am today, what I do? Primarily I think it’s made me extremely self directed. I am a very social person and crave regular activities with others but I balance that with enormous amounts of time alone. I spend a lot of time (probably more than I should) thinking, making things up in my mind. I don’t feel alone or lonely by myself when I’m engaged in my own pursuits. I can easily think outside the box. I can work well in a crowd, but to me crowds are for socializing, so it takes me consciously choosing to stay on task when I’m with others. It wasn’t until recently that I could go to an art retreat or class and actually spend most of the time working. I’d start something, chafe at making mine like everyone else’s, set it aside and help people with their projects, and then take my own project home and either abandon it or turn it into something more complex than I could have in the class. Oh geeze, this is getting rather lengthy. I guess the wrap up is this, I think spending so much time alone as a child has helped me feel I didn’t need to ‘be like everyone else.'”
“Rereading my own comments, I’d add that in the last few years art retreats and workshops, not that I get to go to that many, have become places where I’m more productive, because they are places where other tasks and responsibilities do not vie for my attention and I can focus without guilt on my art.”
A huge thank you to Laume for allowing me to share this train of thought. I hope it resonates with y’all as it continues to do with me.
You might also enjoy Acrylic Painting with Passion by Tesia Blackburn.
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