How Opening My Own Online Store Helped Me Cope With My Mother’s Death

I failed my high school art class. I used to phone it in – tracing outlines of fish from images found in my earth science class, having my dad work on projects for me that still garnished me a D because a professional could tell that my skills were not to the level my father’s was. I passed marginally only because he was a nice guy, with a soft spot for his daughter’s friend, but in all actuality: I deserved the F I should have gotten in that class.

When I took an art class in college, I earnestly tried my best and it still landed me on the C list for my final. I attested my lack of artistic skill to skip a generation. My dad had it, my brother had it, maybe my son will have it. I’d always preferred my artistic expression to be black and white, inked, my thoughts bleeding out onto a single sheet of white, lined paper. I’d been writing since I was seven; that was enough artistic expression for one person.


When my mom died, I couldn’t write about it anymore. Writing, an act that had always acted as a form of therapy, wasn’t cathartic anymore; it was enabling. It consistently pushed me to write about the day she died, blotting it down in hurried cursive, tears seeping in to the fine print. Day after day after day I was forced to stare at: “My mom is dead” phrasing over and over again like Jack Torrance in the Shining: “All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy” only, “My mom is dead, and she’s never coming back and I hate my entire life for it.”


When I turned to painting, it was a form of expressing my grief. As it turns out, you don’t have to possess the level of skill my brother, dad, or high school art teacher had, when you’re pouring paint onto a canvas, not caring about what it forms, just etching your expressions in slick, anticipated movements. Expression defines abstract, not the other way around.


I’ve painted more than thirty paintings, suddenly being the proud owner of a twisted, fluid art collection that’s somehow defined me as an abstract expressionist. I’ve sold at art shows and created commissioned pieces, all discovered by accident.


When I chose to open up my online store, Bad Art and Meow, I hadn’t expected what would come from it. Art has become a form of expression, and I’ve moved on from solely chronicling my grief, to outlining a multitude of moments in my life. They range from sad, to feeling that hopelessness I did a year ago, to happiness. I’ve defined marriage and the fear of having kids. I’ve defined eagerness and solitude. Painting has been there for me, a cushion, a cloud, a residence where I’ve come home. It’s where colors speak to me and brushstrokes have outlined the only place that feels safe, when words seem to fail.




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