I am painting, again, after taking two months away. The two months went by rather fast and, sometime into it, I began to consider that maybe my painting days were behind me. There are times when we take a break from things in life. It can be good for us and, I believe, most of the time, we come back stronger. Whatever we are gone from becomes new to us, again. We can see a new light, we are somehow changed from the time away . .. because surely there was a cause for the time away . .. often a difficult something that kept us away.
One of the several things that kept me from painting was somehow part of the art show I was involved in at Lilah’s Bakery in Shreveport, Louisiana. It was a wonderful experience, though I may have mentioned in the past that it took me by surprise near the date that it was to be a one artist show. I had been in to the bakery before and seen the collaborative efforts of about five artists and considered it would be a similar format. It was good news and exciting to hear that the show, my first show, was to be a one artist event.
But this is what happened, I haven’t been painting that long and I have given much of my work away to family and friends who have been instrumental in their support of the creative process – that said, I gathered every piece I could find. I borrowed a few back from friends. I had enough for the show, twenty-three pieces in all. One painting remained in my home. I was happy with the show but I had removed the near entirety of my work from my life for about five weeks.
It was in that five weeks I stopped seeing myself as a painter. It was like a surreal experience where the only proof of the painter that existed became a large bamboo bowl of colorful paints. It was strange and I came to identify less and less with the painter within me. I had removed myself from my art, something I will never do again. It was, of course, all still within me but something about removing the evidence from the outside was harmful to the painter within.
I began to question if I could still paint. I would sometimes see photos, in my file on the computer, of work I had previously photographed. I liked seeing it but it became more distant to me. It was a part of me that I wondered if now was in my past, like a dream. Like a temporary time, like a love that was now gone and lingering in memory. I will never remove my artwork again. I will paint harder and longer so I can have what Georgia O’Keeffe advises of five to six shows worth of work in the studio at any given time. I have learned something new that will breathe life to my soul.
For we all need nurturing and though much of what we need is on the inside some of what we need is on the outside. Each of us is not an island. We all interact with each other and also with the forms of our creation. I believe in letting go of the art and not holding onto it, though I will now slow down some in the process of its transition out of the studio.
What can I tell you today about your own life? Make sure what you love and who you are are embodied somehow in the environment around you. Be around people you love, make sure they are there and, if not, go to them. Find what you love and make it present in the life around you. Play the sports you love, live the life you love, find work that brings you peace. Live a full life and teach your kids to do the same. I am very visual, I need visual reminders, I need to be able to see. I encourage you, visual or not, to look around your life and make sure the life you see really lines up with the person you are.
Make your life, create it from the inside out.