Portrait of an Artist as a Young Mom

August 24, 2010 at 3:47 pm 1 comment

Are great artists made or born?  The answer is probably ‘both.’  But I can tell you that my mother, I Hate to Cook Book author Peg Bracken, was destined to write and create from the moment she drew breath.

In general, she was always writing, pen in hand or not.  A casual comment, or a passage from a book or newspaper article, could easily send her into the intellectual ether, parsing out a phrase under her breath until it sounded just right.  And in actuality she probably wrote something every day of her life—a short poem, a simple observation, or just a new phrase she wanted to coin.  (When my husband and I spurned martinis for awhile in favor of tonic, soda water and lime, she was so aghast that she went and crafted the phrase “marred-tini.”)

Even when she wasn’t writing, though, she was always doing something to get into that creative space.  An excellent caricaturist,  she sketched her own drawings for the Emily character who adorned On Growing Old for the First Time.  She fashioned hand-made paperback book covers (so you could read something racy, she said, without anyone knowing).  She made beautifully embroidered cloth hangings.  She forged jewelry from odd pieces of metal.  She sewed amazing Hawaiian quilts.

These were not hobbies or pastimes to her, but the very fabric of her day.

So what happened to me?  I founded two successful multi-million-dollar companies.   I’m on various executive boards.  I can do eight things at once.  So in my own way I guess I made Mom as proud (and in awe) of me as I was of her.  Yet, while I use my imagination plenty enough, don’t ask me to paint a picture, spin a pot or play a musical instrument. 

I once took a sewing class and spent nine months making a jumper I wouldn’t be caught dead in.  I tried knitting and never made it to purl two.  I crafted a long and gaudy blue scarf I laughingly dedicated to Isadora Duncan.

What did I inherit from my mother, then?  Along with a love of cats, martinis, Ireland, plus cookies and milk, an appreciation for the fact that one person’s waste of time is another’s way of life.


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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. kelly  |  September 5, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    It would appear you also inherited her ability to write 🙂


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