“You cannot learn to love art, unless you first love what art mirrors.” – John Ruskin
The paintings of local artist David Strom are a familiar sight in our small town. So familiar are his works to our family that years ago, when we were viewing Monet’s haystacks at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, my son informed the docent that they reminded him of David Strom’s grain bins. I’m not sure what the docent thought.
When a young lady in our Charlotte Mason community for high schoolers, The Hive, asked about the huge paintings by David that hang over our meeting table, I thought it might be a good thing to have him come and speak to the students. The Hive meets at a local coffee shop in the back room. We get together twice a month with the students doing most of the work at home. When we come together, we have a grand conversation about what we have read, written, and thought. We finished an inspiring morning of discussion, noticing the connectivity between Lewis’ Mere Christianity, Mason’s Ourselves, and the U.S. Constitution. The maps and microscopes, journals and hydras were tucked away. It was time for our guest.
In bounced David with a coffee to go in his hand. He described to us how the prairie landscape has fueled his imagination, how he loves the grain bins on farms and how they turn into huts in his mind. Then we jumped in our vehicles (it was 10 degrees outside) to visit his airy studio, fashioned after an old chicken coop with light streaming in the windows along the roof. He played a record of Laura Nyro while he spoke to us which gave the room an upbeat, 70s vibe.
“I’m the king of pregnant pauses,” he told us as he referred to his notes for the fifth time. He slowly described his creative process to us as he showed us piece after piece of art in various stages. We learned that sometimes he works on a piece over the course of decades. He advised the students to look at things from different perspectives, to persevere with an idea, and to read widely.
Introducing our students to as many local artists as possible is important and inspiring. It is something we hope to incorporate much more of at The Hive. Knowing that the man who runs the Hallmark store and arranges flowers for a living is also an accomplished artist can’t help but give them a different view of how art might fit into their lives. It makes for wider living.
I have to add one more thing. Before we left, David pulled out a very special painting. It was his first oil painting done as a 15-year-old in 1965. The painting was of my present home, some thirty years before I knew it existed.
Copyright 2013 Nancy Kelly
Nancy writes about her experiences living and teaching with the Charlotte Mason philosophy and method at her blog, Sage Parnassus – http://sageparnassus.blogspot.com/ .