Inserting Art Into the Everyday
Jan Brownell and her mother, Shirlee Brownell have a great sense of humor and immense work ethic. Jan is Shirlee's full-time caregiver and a freelance web and graphic designer. Shirlee often refers to her as "mother." Now, one may ask, "Why is that?" Well, as Jan puts it into words, "The tables have turned." I remember reflecting on this notion. Its true, there comes to a point in life, when you realized that the person you once relied on is now relying heavily on your support. This is the case with Jan and Shirlee.
The Brownell Family, is a family of talented artists, well known in Hartsdale and Westchester County arts community. Shirlee is known as a portrait artist but she explored other mediums throughout her career as well. In her old age, she continues to paint and make jewelry. This is all made possible by the ongoing support of Jan and Ken (Jan's husband and caregiving partner). The flow of art in their daily lives reminds me of my family and their relationship with music. Despite their hectic life surrounded by doctor appointments, consultations and visitations, they are able to set aside time to immerse themselves in art. Be it painting, drawing, photography, doll making, jewelry or sewing. They don't shy away from getting their hands dirty. It seems more relaxing or therapeutic over anything else.
As Shirlee ages, Jan motivates her to move away from portrait painting, and dive into exploring abstract or impressionist style painting. Rather than allowing her to give up, Jan helps her find new and exciting ways to approach things. Jan continues to critique her work, which helps Shirlee immensely throughout the adaptation process. It is easier for her to complete abstract work because of her arthritis on her joints which does not allow her to be as precise with her realistic paintings, Nevertheless, it is still equally rewarding. Jan keeps a couple of small pocket size albums of Shirlee's past artwork nearby her vicinity at all times. So when Shirlee converses with other people she can easily show her work.
A big take that I have taken from Shirlee and Jan is that no matter what happens in life, you have to keep moving forward and be ready for the next step.