My dad is an artist. When I was born he was an art education consultant for our provincial ministry of education. He retired when I was five, and started making cool things full-time: toys, musical instruments from scratch, paintings, sculptures, wine goblets, pepper grinders, one-of-a-kind Christmas ornaments, music boxes… The basement was like an unfinished and elfless Santa’s workshop. We used to joke that he really was Santa, because he had a white-grey beard and a herd of deer used to hang out on our property every winter.
Dad taught me everything I know about art and about making things from whatever materials were handy, and also quite a bit about filmmaking. He keeps a collection of flip books in a shoe box, that I used to pour over for hours at a time, making them go fast or slow or backwards or page by page by page. Technically I made my first film when I was three, because my dad volunteered for a day at my nursery school, teaching us how to do cameraless animation, Norman McLaren style (for those of you who haven’t seen Norman McLaren films: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgJ-yOhpYIM ) Our work wasn’t as sophisticated by any means; we were a bunch of preschoolers scribbling with magic marker on bleached-out 16mm film stock, but dad screened it for us afterwards, and to us it felt like a Hollywood premiere.
I don’t see my parents as often as I’d like. The world is getting smaller for keeping in touch, but physical highways are still long. Things change. When my dad turned 75, he decided to learn to play the trombone and focus on that. Now he plays like a pro, in multiple bands. My parents’ basement isn’t full of wet paint and the sound of power tools anymore, but that’s okay. One of the greatest things he taught us was that people can reinvent themselves at any time.
Happy father’s day.