Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Photo: Me-Plein Air Painting
Most of my students lament at some point that they only do their art in class. Because there is always something more important that needs their attention. I still find that I have more to do than is humanly possible and that I need to do it all or a lot of it before I "play" (that is make art). I would not call myself a high energy person, but I would say for the most part if I am upright I am in perpetual motion.

There is always something that needs to be done. I feel guilty watching TV (even though I do it practically every night ) or reading a book or taking a nap. Relaxation you see, is reserved for when all the work is done. But the work is never done! So you either never relax (or create) or you feel guilty? The only out you have is a vacation-where that's what you are supposed to do-relax. (Unless of course, you married to someone who thinks relaxing is doing!) And we use that idea that work is more important as a reason to feel that creating is not.

Two students have said to me recently - and what am I going to do with all these paintings?? It seems that we think it's only valuable if it the art will then do something! I understand having a pile of things that are dear to your heart, but are just sitting around collecting dust. Why add to that? But do we use that as yet another reason to not create, so we don't add to the pile?

Reasons like these abound. For some reason, maybe because we enjoy it (which is another subject), we feel it cannot be as important as getting something done. But why can't getting a painting done be as valuable as getting the laundry done? Why is your job more important to you than your creativity? Aside from the fact you have to eat? I believe we place value on things according to what people will pay for them. My day job is more important because I have to eat! While that is true, does that really mean your music, writing, cooking, painting is less valuable?

Love, happiness,a child's laughter, a rainbow, a purring kitten, a breeze, your health. All these are things that have no monetary value placed on them, and yet they are what makes life worth the living. Ask yourself, are these things that bring such joy "doing" something?

So, if you only have time to create in a class, take one. And keep taking them! If your worried about paintings piling up, shift your thinking. Make it about the process and getting better and not about the piling up factor. Give them away, sell them on or give them to a charity. Free art will always uplift someone who hasn't the funds for real art. And you can recycle. Paint over not so good paintings. Recylcle watercolor paper.

But most of all, challenge your ideas about how your time is spent and what is valuable. How dull would be a world without the arts? I say soak them up, like a sponge. Make it more valuable in your own life and perhaps others will shift their thinking as well.

Not everything has to do something. It can just be.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Caught in the Rain

It was a brutally hot weekend. It's a wet week! I appreciate the rain, until the 7th straight day. But for the most part, I really love the dark brooding skies. I love to turn off all the noise and listen to it's rhythm as it hits some metal thing on the chimney.I find rain calming. A break from the heat. I really, really love a good lightening show!

But like most things, rain has both a Yin and Yang aspect to it. On one hand the rain waters the dry soil and plants, cools the heat, takes down the humidity (sometimes) and best of all-brings pollen and other allergy makers down a notch.
But it can be destructive as well. Flooding, hard rains and hail ruin crops and the occasional parade and picnic!

This morning I took off to walk thinking I would get it in before the rains that were forecasted. That didn't happen! About midway through my usual route, it started to sprinkle. No big deal, I don't melt! In fact it was cooling since the temperature had already reached 70 degrees. So I kept going. Lo and behold, the downpour! Needless to say I picked up speed eventually jogging. Now, I know that you get just as wet no matter how fast you go. (some fact I picked up from one of my children studying something I don't understand- I'm sure!) But you get it over sooner is my reasoning! So sad to say, running is not my thing. I peter out after a few short blocks! Still probably a mile away, I had to slow down and walk in the rain.

I realized I could embrace the rain that covered every inch of dog and woman and focus on the good in the situation. Or I could be upset that we were soaking wet, that I almost brought an umbrella and that it would take more time to dry them off and get into the house and on with my day. And the lesson began to sink in. You can make the best of the rain and your situation, or you can fight it. You can run and try to escape it or get it over quicker. And being an action oriented person I prefer "running" at a problem. Or you can choose to embrace the whole of it and let it teach you something.

I've been fighting some situations in my life. I think all the mental strife and boxing air takes my creative spirit away. Who has time to think creatively, let alone actually create when so much energy is being used to fight what is? It's a reminder that if my creativity is slow to come I should take a look at my circumstances. Am I accepting of what I cannot change? This is a lesson I guess I have not completely internalized, but I'm grateful for getting caught in the rain! If your human, it's going to rain. How can we use it to create? What can our trials bring to the process? We need to create both in good times and bad. And its cheaper than therapy. And eventually, the rains must end and we can see the rainbow!