The Autism Beat: Artism

Last week our daughter asked our son, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and, he said, “An artist.”  Until now the answer was always, “I don’t want to grow up.”  Breakthrough.  All parents hope that their children will find a passion, something they can and want to do with their lives.  It’s not always a vocation, not always a career, but something that creates a spark that, with any luck, turns into a fire.

Our extended family is blessed with talent of all kinds, artistic in particular, that has manifested itself in many ways.  Our home is filled with art by people we love, from paintings to photographs to greeting cards to quilts to books to magazine covers.  Some it of it viewed by thousands, some only by us, and so I think about where his desire to draw will take him because it is, in part, up to us to guide him toward his goal.

The world is full of artists who do other things so that they can pursue their art on their own time.  So few are able to fill their days and their bank accounts by making art.  And our boy is what people would call an outsider artist, pursuing what is, for now, a narrow, if vibrant, aesthetic that is not uncommon in people on the autism spectrum.  It has a childlike quality joined with a certain kind of exactitude that makes it appealing but not necessarily marketable.  And as much as that would be wonderful for him, it is the satisfying process of drawing and completing that we hope to preserve throughout his life; for every artist it is as much about the act of producing a bit of art as it is about having it when it’s finished.  Whether one works for days, months or years on a piece or is compelled to finish it in one sitting, the worst thing that can happen is to stop creating altogether.

Note:  the drawings here are older (about 2008), because more recently completed work is large or oddly sized and not easily scanned or photographed.

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