Mommy asked me if I could write about her life as an artist. My quizzical look implored her to hear my thought, “What does an artist do?” She said she is a painter, bead embroiderer and a mixed media creator — which is why we move from room to room just when I’m all snuggled down for a nap.
Mommy’s artist name is Scarlet Lake, but her real name is Nancy Erickson Dutmer, sometimes NED, and I can’t live without her!! In fact, I don’t know where I’d be living if she hadn’t adopted me. I was found on the lam in Texas, fostered out, then driven to St. Paul, Minnesota, where I met my parents, both singers and musicians as well. They adopted me and I got to move into this crazy musical artsy house. The kooky thing is that they take me back to Texas every March so Mama can do art festivals.
When we’re at home in Wisconsin, most days she starts sewing beads onto something. That would be in my brother Lochlan’s old bedroom-turned-art studio after his furniture was gone. But then my oldest brother, Austin, sent a vintage bedroom set, so once again it’s an art studio/ spare bedroom. I watch Mama from the bed or on a stack of Asian pillows on the floor. Mama has left me five times to go to Japan: SHE’S CRAZY ABOUT IT, so we have a lot of Asian pieces in our house.
On the wall behind her beading table — where she beads dogs, fish, birds, scenery, dragonflies, armadillos or the portraits she paints — is some Asian art by her and HER Mommy! Mama’s childhood kimono from Chinatown hangs there with a photo of my sister, Tzeitel, wearing it when she was little. In Japan, she bought me a kimono, too (called a “yukata” for day dress)!
That moves us to the dining room. Doesn’t everyone have a Chinese wedding bed in their dining room? It makes for a cozy spot to watch my Mommy work on her oil painting. She sets up her easel out here where there’s a little more room and she has a captive audience of international puppets and me (in my yukata!). Did I mention I understand Japanese commands?
Her paintings are usually funny, too. She likes her art to make people smile so she paints people with fun animals and sometimes the animals are the people! Then there are the old-timey circus paintings Mama loves to create.
We won’t even go into our circus kitchen today ’cause all I do is eat there. Mama uses her dining room table to make wild deer mount sculptures or tiny mouse houses. She also builds her frames and attaches hardware onto art out here. Luckily, my parents usually eat in the living room!
Ohhhhh … the living room, aka The Pink Palace. That’s where Mommy’s computer is and where she applies for art shows, communicates with galleries and works on her Instagram and Facebook pages while I take a siesta in her lap. Wait, did I say siesta? I also understand some Spanish words, and a good thing ’cause Mommy prep cooks part time at a Mexican restaurant.
Are you tired yet? I am, so off we go to my favorite sleeping nook — the master bed! I’m quite content on her bed, on or under a blankie or two, while Mama cuts out material for her hand-painted beaded fabric portraits. These have clothes and fabric backgrounds, too, and Mama knows this surface is the largest place in our house to stretch out to work. All’s well with me until she gets the iron out, then I jump off the bed for shelter in my little basket.
Meanwhile, my Mommy puts together her beaded portraits here, like the one of some guy formerly known as Prince (?). I can relate, I was formerly known as Bubbles, but as Mama’s busy art day progresses, she will likely call me Tweets, Precious Pup, Hello Dolly, Baby Cakes, My Little Love or Peeps. I guess my “pet” names are as varied as my Mama’s mediums. She says she loves all creative endeavors, but beading and painting are her favorites. I am also her favorite, and that’s why she has so many places for me to be near her when she’s home making art.
She is my vital force and I am her Chi!