Why is that one morning you get to the studio with the intention to make a particular painting and it just happens. Right then and there. Without the usual hemming and hawing, angst, self-doubt, inventive hours of procrastinating, nor gentle cajoling. The dog was sitting still in the living room. Morning sun illuminated her golden fur. An old 8"X8" panel was ready to be painted over, and I finally got the color mixing right, not to mention her nose, eye and ear, and the relationship between them. I suppose all that went before brought me to this one painting. Now I wonder if I can send it off to the Golden Retriever Foundation Art Auction for their fundraiser. Or. Do I need to keep it for myself. Because it is as close to recreating Rosie as I am likely to come. And it is a reminder of this morning when it all came together for no particular reason except I must have stopped trying so hard.
You can't beat beginning the day with a visit from a fine neighbor and her wonderful dog, a big, black lab also named Rosie. The Rosies bounded through the garden while we sipped coffee and chatted in the warm sun on the deck. By the end, both dogs reeked from some kind of skunk encounter and were totally spent. Our neighbors went home to wash up and get on with their day. Not wanting to break the spell, my dog and I "headed for the hills," as Granny Mouse used to say, where our day unfolded gently. A young deer family and a few turkeys shared the meadow, while rabbits hopped around the periphrey and birds conducted their daily routine all around. It's dinner time and my Rosie is still zonked. I am relaxed and peaceful beyond measure.
A word about competitions. They are poison for me.
I try to create for the judges rather than doing what I do. And when my work is not chosen, it takes forever to regain confidence.
I am not a fan of prizes for creative work in general. One person. Singled out of a group all deserving of recognition, because someone or some select group came to consensus for some complicated set of subjective or political reasons.
Books heralded as prize winners rarely become my favorites. But Ann Patchett's beautifully written editorial, "And the Winner Isn't..." in today's N.Y Times, gave me a different perspective. All any of us wants is to be seen, heard, and understood. Prizes create buzz, which leads to more people seeing and hearing what we have to say, which is all for the better. Maybe someday I will outgrow my aversion to judgement. And then again. Maybe not.
And then. The day ends with a
great Giants game at their beautiful ball park in the prettiest city on earth, and all the angst dissolves in a pool of awe.
A word about friends, relatives, and perfect strangers who keep the likes of me going.
Your notes of appreciation for what goes on here are appreciated more than you know. This is a solitary business. Aside from the dog's comings and goings, it's mostly Me, Myself, and I in the studio. And much of the time I am not at all sure what I am doing. It's good to know you are there. Seeing, Reading, and Responding.
Her entire life is her art and her art is her life. I guess that is true of all of us. But her commitment to her vision is astounding. I find that as soon as I define a path, my inclination is to wander away. Distracted. Disobedient. Attracted to the periphery. Not bad. But not linear. Not predictable. And probably not very grown up.
In the meantime, my dog doesn't judge and keeps our routine in check. Wake. Eat. Walk. Couch. Lunch. Couch. Walk. Eat. Sleep.
Which comes first, the mood or the weather? Hard to say. After pounding rain all night, the Bay was flooded with light first thing this morning. The day has changed from light to dark, windy to still, warm to cold, and back again. A perfect metaphor for my mood. Or. Is it the other way around.
It's not the very first thing, but by the time I come downstairs in the morning, Rosie has been outside and come back in and had a bite to eat and settled at the bottom of the stairs waiting (Patiently. Always Patiently) for me to come down. After a quick cup of coffee, I put on my walking shoes, pick up her leash and we are off. Seeing her there, with eager expectation, day after day, rain or shine, makes my day before it has even gotten started. To be enthusiastic about our daily routine. The walk. The town. The new day. That's it. All of it. In a nutshell.
On this morning's walk with Rosie I thought about words that describe my current state of mind.
Trouble is, it is now afternoon and I have forgotten what they were.
One was "longing." I remember that. Having been moved to tears yesterday when I happened upon a large photograph of my mother striking a Yoga pose, looking radiant at 75.
"Friendship" was in there for sure. Today I dropped everything to have lunch with a good old friend, giving the day shape and meaning way beyond that any painting could convey. "Balance" should have been there if it wasn't. Because it's all one big balancing act. Life. Work. Longing. Come to think of it, that Yoga pose my mother did was the essence of balance.
I saw a lot of paintings recently that knocked my socks off. Especially Linda Christensen's whose energetic figurative paintings just plain send me. More paint. Bigger. Looser. Where have I heard that before? Determined to move myself down the road.
After a weekend of soaking in the storm, and a morning of cleaning out closets, it feels good to be back in the studio with Rosie at my feet.
Last night's magnificent American Bach Soloists double concertos concert reminded me how much I love Baroque music. Never gets old. It IS old. But it is always new. Isn't that what we are trying to do with ourselves? Renew? To constantly renew. Throw out the old. Pare down. Rediscover. Our little selves inside.