Last Saturday I did this small chipmunk painting live on YouTube. I had some wonderful time to connect with my viewers and friends. I referenced a photo I had taken last week when I met my wife and my 2-year-old for lunch. As I walked out the door of the office I saw my wife’s face filled with excitement and my son’s eyes sparkling. They had spotted this cute little chipmunk right next to them. I approached it very slowly to take a better look at it. I don’t know if this little guy is brave or clueless, but he didn’t run away when I was about 2 feet from him. I managed to take a few photos with my phone before it finally noticed my presence. I remember my 2-year-old continue looking for it long after it was gone.
The artist in me gave me the urge to paint this little chipmunk. Animals and wildlife are not my usual painting subjects, but I decided to paint this for my wife and kid. While this little painting was mostly for fun it has become a quite meaningful connection with my 2-year-old. Like the Megaman painting I did for my 2 older boys, this little painting made my 2-year-old excited. When he saw this painting, the same sparkle reappeared in his eyes like the day he saw the chipmunk outside of my office. While my kids like seeing daddy’s landscape paintings and the portraits of their mom, they are much more excited when seeing me paint their beloved characters or animals. As a father, I have to take a little bit of pride in knowing what makes my kids excited. I know that each of these little paintings strengthens their confidence in dad’s love for them.
My 2-year-old will probably forget that brief encounter with the little chipmunk. But this painting will serve as a doorway back to that little precious memory. We will be able to bring up that little story year after year. Often, being able to recall these little stories with someone else shows how deep your connection with that person is. My dear wife often asks me to retell the story of our first encounter, the moment that I fell in love with her, or the evening that she fell asleep on my shoulder while we were both standing outside of her home (another story for another time). Every time I retell those stories, our connection deepens and our love rekindles. My paintings allow me to retell a story visually, and I love being an artist whenever I get to do that for my family or someone else.