My walls are lined with books about art, artists, creativity, the psychology of the creative process, the history of art, and the how-to’s. I’ve read most of all of them cover to cover, notated, re-read, etc.
For over thirty years my observation of my own painting process has amazed me. Lesson after lesson appears as struggles with choices, expectations, acceptance, failure, doubt and insecurity do-si-do with brush and hand.
I learn trust and patience along with the scrumptiousness of nickel-azo yellow mixed with phthalo turquoise. I learn how a small speck of light can make all the difference. I learn how the emotion felt from evocative music, or a fight with a friend, or the anticipation of an event, or the love of a child can affect the quality of a line. I learn how black can be rich and mysterious instead of dark and foreboding. And I learn how, despite my ideas, the painting can exert its own will. And I should trust that.
I’ve been at this long enough to know that, although feedback is helpful, I need to re-consider my own judgement. And that it has a wisdom that works hand in hand with the doing. Reacting too quickly to suggestions by someone else can break the connection. It takes time. Time to look, to know when to stop or when to re-work. Time creates one of the biggest pay-offs. Every painting can likely be improved, but then it may be a different painting. A balance of faith and discipline, practice and patience, and a willingness to offer up heart and soul is what makes a painting a poem or a song or a prayer.
Exhaustion from painting tells me I’ve given it it’s due. And when that connection happens, for me, life makes sense. Needless anxiety dissipates. Clarity and peace and a knowing that I fit into a larger whole makes it worthwhile.
Yet, despite all of those lessons that can apply to both art and to daily life, (except maybe the combo of turquoise and azo yellow), I’m often left with nothing to “say”. I start to write the blog and nothing comes. Hours, days pass and no ideas surface. Such a puzzle. All of those books, brushes, tubes and canvases and I’m good for little more than laundry and watching Dancing with the Stars.
Consequently, blogs take a holiday. Sorry. Maybe next week…