How to be a kid.

I’ve spent my entire life making art. It has always been engrained in me, via family and school, to express myself visually, through craft and precision. But there was an element of weight and heaviness to it, starting at the age of five, due to the loss I had experienced. So at some point, I learned to create in order to accomplish, and not to express. This became detrimental to my creativity, as well as to any urge I had left in me to make art. To express would be to feel, and at times those feelings were too painful. 

So I’ve spent the last several years avidly avoiding making art, somehow trying to escape it. 
Well, the time has come when I simply can’t hold back any longer, and that’s a lot scarier than it sounds! It feels very vulnerable to share my work with the world. It feels a bit like rehearsing lines on a stage just moments after being handed the script. I’m going to produce some bad work, because my creative muscles are weak and my technical chops atrophied with them. Let’s not even mention the fact that my heart will be right there with that work. That has atrophied a bit, too. 

But, here we go! Hannah Joy Lehman makes art, writes stuff, and probably says the wrong thing but means well. 

The series I’m sharing here is literally my first toe-dip back into making art (intentionally) in years, so be nice! To make a long story short, I recently had this overwhelming realization that I was doing too much and not enjoying any of it. It’s funny to me that it took a pandemic for me to realize that even when it’s just me, myself, and I, there will be plenty to do to escape me, myself, and I.

So I committed myself to letting go of time spent obligatorily, whether that be some form of virtual volunteering, friendships I found draining or one-sided, book clubs I was poorly attending, cleaning that “has” to be done – again, and so on. The goal was to learn more about myself, and how I actually want to spend my time.

What’s interesting is that it only took one night of me committing to do absolutely nothing for me to want to pick up some colorful instrument and begin making marks. These pieces here are the result of that evening and those which followed, where I listened to my own needs, and they told me to start creating.

They represent a playfulness that I struggle to remember. My father died when I was 5. That takes a lot out of a kid’s spirit, and it certainly did mine. I was constantly alone, and making art. And it hurt like hell. So over the years, I came to associate making art with the pain I felt. And it pained me even further to later look back, and see how sad my childhood had felt to me. It felt like it had been stolen away from me.

Now, I’m 37 years old. I live alone with my two dogs, and have an amazing partner. We’re supporting each other through covid-times, and taking it day by day. What better time to intentionally seek to live a lost childhood than one where everything else has put on hold? I hope others can find inspiration from my creative space to do the same.

These pieces are my first foray- in several years – into that childhood play with lines, shapes, and colors. They are shown in order of completion. Their mediums, respectively, are Sharpies, Caran D’ache Neocolour II water-soluble crayons, and Prismacolor colored pencils.

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