Friday, January 15, 2010

Return to Painting

Yesterday I wrote and posted something that I called "Return to Painting" and discovered as I wrote that it really wasn't about that. It started about that but ended up being about two vision boards, so I changed the title this morning and republished it.

Here's the real "Return to Painting" story. It's a simple story, really. It's about how sometimes it helps to go very slowly and gently when you are moving back into territory that you know can be a little treacherous, psychologically speaking. Since it's clear to me by now that bringing overblown, high pressure expectations to painting does me no good, I decided to approach this return to painting very very gently.

This might sound like pure timidity, but at least the other day it had a different quality--gentleness was surely part of it. Maybe there was even compassion, self-understanding, and even wisdom? A humble, everyday sort of loving wisdom, not anything fancy. Not capital "W" Wisdom.

So here's what I did: I gave myself permission to go very very slowly back toward painting, to go one small step at a time.

First, I swept the dust and sand (from people's shoes from trips to the beach as well as sanded winter roads) out of the area where I paint. I could have vacuumed but I like sweeping better.

Next, I set up my easel (a small portable "French easel") again, because it has been put away since before Christmas to make more room for comings and goings.

Third, I put the painting I was working on when I last painted back on the easel, dusted off the cat hair, etc. that has collected on its surface over the past month, and took some time to look at it--really look at it--and began to ask myself what I might want to do with it next.

That took just about all the time I had set aside for this first return to painting, so I stopped there. And because it was a gentle and pleasant experience, and because I had done what I set out to do (just take it one small step at a time), I felt good about it and look forward to the next step (opening up my paints again), and the next, and the next.

All in all a successful return to painting, thus far!


aderby said...

My friend Pat Doolin and I were discussing our kids while walking our dogs one day. We both have a child that doesn't' mesh well with the educational system and we were discussing executive function disorder, one of the hallmarks of which is a difficulty initiating new activities. Pat is an artist, she paints landscapes and the most beautiful still lifes. And in the course of this conversation, she said "You know what the hardest part of painting is? Just putting the paint on the palette. Just starting." So a small beginning step is a giant leap (if not for mankind, at least for our Selves) and that is Wisdom.

Sukie Curtis said...

I like that, Derby. Thanks (and thank Pat for me). One of my wise counselors gave me a question to ask myself that helps me in a similar way: "Am I willing to take out my paints and be with whatever comes up?" And of course that can mean what comes up just in the process of getting out the paint! Not what I decide to get from the palette to the canvas!