The other day I stopped by Littlehouse Galleries to check on some paintings I had there and found that one was missing! “Bright Idea,” one of my favorites has recently sold and made its way to a new home. Happy trails, little friend.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the stereotypes typically ascribed to artists. Some good, some bad. The list includes flaky, unreliable, emotional, observant, imaginative, starving, unpredictable, and complex. One adjective most “non-artists” (a misnomer since I think everyone has some form of art in them) don’t normally use is “perfectionistic.” A little known fact about artists- we’re typically very hard on ourselves. We may not seem that way to those around us, but we are. In fact, I would propose the theory that the “flakier” an artist seems, the harder they are on themselves (yes, I’m aware that should have been a complicated, “he or she is on him or herself,” but that’s cumbersome. See? I’m even kind of perfectionistic about my grammar). We can have extremely high, impossible even, standards for ourselves; letting “the perfect be the enemy of the good” (to paraphrase Voltaire).
Julia Cameron, author of the series The Artist’s Way says that “artists block” is not caused by lack of ideas, but rather by a log-jam of too many ideas. Too much in-flow without enough out-flow. How often have you found yourself discarding ideas left and right, “That’s stupid. That won’t work. No one will like it. That’s too complicated- I can’t pull it off,” only to find yourself sitting on the couch stymied, frustrated, and wailing, “I can’t think of anything to paint!” (or write or draw or sculpt, or whatever)? When I do that (and I catch myself doing it often) I get grumpy and start feeling like all those bad stereotypes. Therefore, I paint because I have to paint. I write because I have to write.
All art doesn’t have to be Capital A- Art. Sketch your dog, paint a wall a different color, make up a recipe. And if it doesn’t turn out, the world won’t crumble. Just create. You’ll feel better.
Ok, not really. But I am in a magazine.
It started gradually. A little piece here. A little piece there. Next thing you know I have quite a collection.
I’m referring to my “bits of nature” that I just can’t seem to leave outside. I pick up every feather I come across, every mossy bit of fallen bark, every cool and unusual stick. I actually went outside in a downpour recently to “rescue” a perfect clump of moss that I had seen earlier in the driveway and had meant (and then forgotten) to pick up after depositing the groceries in the house.
It’s ok. I’m an artist. We’re allowed these little eccentricities and I quite like them- both my eccentricities and my collection.
Here are just a few of the many paintings inspired by my outdoor finds:
I’m pretty independent…sometimes too independent. I figure that people have better things to do than help me when technically I CAN manage. Today, though, juggling a toddler and a heavy box I needed to exchange at an auto parts store I accepted a helping hand. A kind man in the parking lot offered to carry the box into the store and I turned him down. He happened to be leaving the same time as me as well and said, “Please, let me help you.” Maybe it was the tone of his “please,” maybe it was the gut feeling that he wasn’t creepy, or maybe it was the fact that I really wasn’t sure I could make to the car with the even heavier new item under my arm. Whatever the case, I gratefully handed it over. As we got to my car and I thanked him, he admitted, “I have ulterior motives.”
“Oh, great,” I thought, “My gut lied.”
He continued, “I’ve been sitting with my dying father for the last two weeks and I can’t tell you how good it feels just to talk to a living breathing person and feel like I’m being some actual use to someone.”
I left the interaction feeling a warmth and generosity toward all humanity and the sense that we’re all in this together. We could all use a little help sometimes, as well as the opportunity to offer help. May the good you receive equal the good you share.
…aaaand since I don’t have a picture to illustrate this life lesson, here’s another onion 🙂