Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Okay...that title is NOT me. 

But I've heard it before and oddly enough used in the context of describing me.  Maybe I should really entitle this post "illusions" 'cause apparently I've achieved THAT!  

I admit, in my meager endeavours in this life, I tend to want things done "well" but perfect?...never. 

Perfection is simply not attainable in any other way than the feeling I get from time to time when for a moment something feels just right; a hug, a cuddle, a cup of hot coffee while swinging on my porch swing and soaking up the rays, inhaling that first warm spring breeze or catching the perfect sunset that absolutely takes my breath away. 

              Or the feeling of holding your child for the first time ever. 

That's the closest I've come to perfect. 

I'm a perfectionist, in some small ways.  My parents raised me to want things done right. 

Be it good marks on my report cards, or a straight seam sewn on my latest project, mom and dad definitely instilled those traits and for them, I know it wasn't easy after all I was not the most complaisant child.  I remember grudgingly attempting to recite my multiplication facts, or print an "O" that started in the right spot as per my kindergarten teacher's instructions, or ripping out a crooked seam all the while thinking "Does this really matter?...come on...Does It?"

and today, I still wonder a bit, especially about that "O". 

All this striving for perfect has though instilled some traits in me I cannot ignore. 

I like to look pulled together, or at least a little funky.  
Sometimes I worry I achieve this in the wrong sense of the word.  Like:  "Does that milk smell bad?" funky, rather than: "She's so cool, artistic, creative." funky. 

I like my home to look good.

I like my kids to behave well, make positive impressions and maintain their own personality.

Have I achieved these things?                     No, No and No!...

but that's okay, because although things aren't perfect, they are pitifully, painfully, quintessentially real. 

That makes me and everyone else I know absolutely human.

Which brings me to my gripe.  Or at least an expression of my opinion.  When it comes to my art and alot of art that I like, the one thing I can say that is a common denominator is that none of what appeals to me is perfect. 
I do not paint high realism.  I cannot and don't strive to.
I really admire the talent possessed to achieve such a goal and cannot help but wonder at those artist's achievements, but when most of my subject matter is maybe touched by the hand of God, be it flowers, landscapes, animals...then can I, being merely human really recreate perfection?  

I have trouble understanding why we humans have created rulebooks to dictate what is "perfect" in just about every area of our world and there are oodles of examples I could use out there, but for my humble and uneducated example I will use one of my favourite subjects: The cow.

As I am married to a dairy farmer who breeds his own Holstein cows and live immersed in a community of like minded breeders, many who are much more obsessive about this than my guy, I know all too well that the image of the perfect "Type Cow" exists.  
Selection of who you will sire a cow to is based on a myriad of traits that a bull possesses and how this will compliment what your poor cow is lacking is at the forefront of consideration.  I get this, really I do, because who wants to bring into the world an animal who's life will be shortened by lack of longevity or really poor legs or inadequate milk production?  Let's face it, any job is a business and if you want to stay in business you need to be successful, so as a tool to success this selection process really does have merit. 
For the record though, never in the dairy world has a cow achieved this elusive "perfect" that was coincidentally created and is actually an illustration done by some artist, a human no less, a long, long time ago...go figure. 

What I'm talking about though is my depiction of a cow, or my idea of the perfect cow.

I say this with a bit of experience for I grew up on a beef farm and helped my dad with immunizing, sorting and tagging his herd from time to time, not to mention accompanying him on many trips to pasture to "check the cows" resulting in fond memories of a few stolen moments in my childhood where I got to have dad all to myself.

Later, I showed calves with friends in our local 4H club, in fact, somewhere still there actually exists a trophy with my name on it, because I did the best job judging the appearance of 4 cows that year in the local competition, now there's a feather in your cap, wouldn't ya say?

When I was dating my husband and  for several years following our wedding, I participated in the day to day function of the farm.  I milked cows, helped to treat cows when they were sick, fed calves, learned to work with them and around them and fell in love with them.  Guess I fall in love alot, huh?  Thinking back to my post on life drawing, I believe I used the same term there!  

What makes me love a cow, is not her perfection.
Each animal has her own personality and it is that, that I love.  The girls that tilt their heads just a little wonky, walk with an extra sway in their step, chew their cuds enthusiastically, or seem genuinely curious. Or the girl who's industriously going about her business eating, sleeping, walking with a single minded focus wins hands down over that elusive perfect.
I will also always remember the one that stood on my hand the very first time I attempted to put a milker on many years ago.  That did not begin a love affair between her and I, although she is one I never forgot, I will give her that much and I can't help but wonder if all those other cows put her up to it, just to show the novice who the bosses really were.

So, I offer no apology when my painted cows do not depict perfection.
I love my cows in their imperfect glory, with their attitudes and personalities, saggy udders, legs not set just so... and I challenge you, dear farmers in the cattle world to see if the cows that made the biggest impressions in your memory banks and not necessarily your pocket books are the ones that were near perfect or instead the ones that invoked a reaction, demanded attention and refused to be typecast but just made you love them because they were them? see more of my cows, please visit me at my home in June and also 11 other artists in the area.
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1 comment:

Jennifer Rizzo said...

I love those cow pictures! You are so right about imperfection. I think that's what makes everyone so special. I know with my art, it's not perfect but sometimes thats' what i love about it.