Monday, October 12, 2009

I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore!

Well, I think I’m home to stay a while. I’ve decided I don’t travel well. While my father seems to thrive on going all the time and experiencing new places-my new motto is ““if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with! “(Dorothy-Wizard of Oz)
Now, I wasn’t looking for my heart’s desire exactly, my dad is. And if my dad wasn’t footing the bill, I doubt I would have ever gone to Europe at all! And I don’t want to sound at all ungrateful. I am totally grateful for the experience. But after 20 hours of travel time, you arrive in another country and you say “Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.” And so it began.
We were touring so much and experiencing so much, trying not to miss anything that I really did not have time to paint. I did two quick paintings and that was it! To me, that was so hard. While in Dubrovnik, I spied a man painting watercolor across from a beautiful church. In true artist spirit, I asked him how long he’d been painting and so on. Turns out he was on a “painting holiday” with a group from the UK. I was so jealous! Can you believe that? Here I am in one of the most picturesque cities in the world, and all I want to do is sit and paint! I was ready to miss all the touring and just plunk myself down and paint! As I continued through the city I saw several others of his group happily painting away to their hearts content!
I think I learned something vital about myself this trip. First, art is not what I do anymore, it’s who I am! I need it to calm me and keep me centered. And to really engage in a place or with a person/people, it’s best done while painting!
That’s a huge change from the Michelle of ten or even five years ago. I still had trouble calling myself an artist then, let alone practicing my craft in public. My how I’ve grown! But it’s really been less about my painting, and more about acceptance. Accepting that this is who I am and what I do and that that’s OK. It’s not a frivolity I indulge in selfishly! I’ve spent hours honing my craft and am proud of that. It’s that I can do something, and it has value for no other reason than because I did it. It no longer matters if it sell’s, or if someone raves about it, or it wins a prize. (Which- while I was gone I won nothing in a show I was in, but one of my favorite people won Best of Show! That’s almost as good as winning myself!) It’s being comfortable with who I am and what I’ve invested so much of myself in.
If you learn nothing else from traveling to Europe, I think it should be that they value the arts in a much more profound way. It’s not questioned as important, or viewed as something pushed to the periphery. It is part of the fabric of everyday life. It is learned as part of their history, which it is. And it is not separate from anything they do, whether walking down the street or eating a meal. It is unquestioned and important still today.
I am not sure if it comes from our Quaker/Shaker roots, but the idea that art is not intrinsic to a happy life or something to be viewed as unnecessary or unimportant makes me crazy! Yet I’ve gotten that message directly or indirectly from well meaning people who felt I was wasting my time on a “hobby” as well as from others whose motives were unclear. The bottom line here is -BUZZKILL! I think when we begin to pit function against form (or beauty) we kill something inside a person. Why would you not want your surroundings to be beautiful or your clothes to have color? It’s counter intuitive really.
So, getting back to the Wizard of Oz…I think it was good to get out of Kansas! But I’m glad to be back, and I think my new vision is to make sure my own backyard has LOTS OF ART! Let’s make art necessary!

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed reading your insight of this most recent excursion you took, liked the sketch from Chicago, will peek in occasionally, I am your neighbors mother that dreams of being a painter/artist. Talitha sent me your links.