Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Double Cousins

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I have a double cousin. Actually, I have four double cousins, and five siblings. Two brothers married two sisters: my father George's brother, my Uncle Stuart, married my mother Edna's sister, my Aunt Carolyn. Stuart and Carolyn had four children, and George and Edna had six children. Our houses were just a few blocks apart, and in the summers we shared a small beach cottage in Point Judith. So, it was like I grew up in a family of ten. Artists are often asked about their influences. Well, growing up in this big, energetic, loving and creative clan is at the top of my primary influences list!!
Here we are are all together for the first time in 17 years, at my daughter Kaitlyn's rehearsal dinner last September at The Neighborhood House on Little Cranberry Island. The whole fam damily. In the 2nd photo we are holding up our fingers to show where we are in the birth order.
(My sister Sue's granddaughter is on her lap...)

1 Steven Simmons
2 Kathleen Simmons Schultz
3 Deborah Simmons Milman
4 Kenneth Simmons
5 Stuart Adelbert (Del) Simmons
6 Christopher Simmons
7 Martha Simmons Miller
8 Susan Simmons Beauchemin
9 Jonathan Simmons
10 Amy Simmons Marseglia

Quite the gang.
I think part of why I make portraits is because I was surrounded by so many people all the time. As loving as my family was and continues to be, when I was younger I sometimes felt lost and overwhelmed by being in such a large group. My portraits are often larger than life - I think that I see people that way - bigger (and idealized, and more beautiful) than me, and in drawing a portrait, I get control of the situation somehow...
does that make any sense??
How about you? How has your family of origin influenced your creativity?
(Oh, ha - now that question sure opens a can of worms! This may take a separate blog and a therapist on stand by!!! Bring it on - the doctor is IN...)


Lauren said...

Point judith, rhode island!? I grew up in RI, I love Point Judith, especially taking the ferry from there to Block Island.

Double cousins are cool...I read a book about some in a series when I was younger...there were two twin girls, and they had a cousin the same age that looked just like them, so they'd all play tricks on teachers and such.

Susan Beauchemin said...

That was fun--Little P remembers everyone!
Oh--Block Island days were great!
I wonder where did you live in RI. Lauren?

artslice said...

The way you described why you make portraits was so does sound a bit overwelming to be in such a big family. I'm from a pretty smallish clan. I've often thought I love to do portraits because I want more people around me. (we grew up in a small town out in the country and I wished for kids to move close to us)

My mom is a sewing queen and is always making stuff... my dad was the school music teacher and played in symphony as well as jazz bands, etc. I know I got his crazy, creative right-brained energy. Even my grandparents influenced me, doing handwork and rug hooking in front of the TV at night.

Brad Gailey said...

My Mama was one of six siblings and had a twin sister. She survived the longest lived of them by twenty-five years. My Pop was the oldest of Eleven. He was in France during the war when his youngest sister was born and she was just five years older than me. The younger of his siblings were more like brothers and sisters to me than to him. I was always very close to Pop's family including the extended family, my great uncles and aunts. My parents are gone now and the aunt that was close to my age has passed as well. I find that my family is getting away from me much to fast.
There was artistic talent on both sides of my family. It was more expressed on my Pop's side. I think my talent might have come from my Mama's side thougth there wasn't much expression of it there.


martha miller said...

Hi Lauren

Yes, where in RI are you from? Our family lived in Warwick in the winter and Pt Jude in the summer. LOVE Block Island!

martha miller said...

Hi Sue!

I'll bet P will always remember that trip, and decorating the wedding buggie! You and Mike do alot of great things with her.
Oh, yeah, those Block Island days! The Best.

martha miller said...

But WAIT, Sue! You are not off the hook! You didn't speak about how growing up in our clan influenced your creativity! Inquiring minds want to know!!

martha miller said...

Hi Brenda

Your parents sound cool! And my kids could probably relate to your childhood - being out in the woods of Woolwich we had to do the importing and exporting of friends. I grew up in a suburb and there were literally dozens of kids right outside my door!
It's true that all types of creativity are inspiring, even the humble rug hooking of the grandparents. How wonderful that those homey domestic crafts are being recognized as art with the huge sewing knitting crafting revolution/explosion of recent years!

martha miller said...

Wow, Brad, you have a fascinating family history! And a BIG family! It must be hard to have seen so many pass on. It's sobering to realize that we are now the older generation! (I'll be an official senior citizen in March when I hit the big 55...yow...)
Did you grow up in GA?