Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better. Sydney J. Harris
Today’s last class was bittersweet, since many of us are not attending any classes for the summer, and although 3 months is a freeing and enticing stretch of time it is also a deep void to fill. And filling the shoes of Homare Ikeda ( http://www.homareikeda.com ) is an impossibly tall order – he is a gifted instructor; wise yet playful, firm in his experience yet always open to new ideas, serious about his art yet secure enough to be whimsical at times, free spirited yet always grounded in the process. Having access to the mind of the master on a weekly basis will be greatly missed.
He spoke to us at the beginning of class about artistic dedication and what a luxury and privilege it is to be able to afford the time and have the talent to paint well. Not just to paint but to paint well. He said we are truly fortunate and should never take it lightly. He said, in so many words, that we should not squander that privilege. We should not deny it or disrespect it or take it for granted. It must be honored and given expression. But he was careful to add, after several minutes on that subject, that with summer at our doorstep, he had one final assignment for us….
We were instructed to PLAY. We were told that our summer must be spent in a sort of artistic abandon – we should give ourselves the freedom and the fun of being loose, experimental, random and playful. We should absolutely have fun this summer. We have been given permission and instructed to do so.
Well alrighty then. I am all for that. Hope I have not forgotten how….to relax, to play and be silly. To be young again in spirit. To make stupid mistakes. To learn from them. To make other mistakes. Then to occasionally create something brilliant, born of enjoyment and fun.
When the class began I had not been inside a classroom, as a student, for several decades. I had just come from 3 years of teaching mixed media to adults in northern California, moving back to Denver after 6 years away, and I felt very strongly that it was time to get my own mojo working again. To paint with serious intention and dedication. To find a class and an instructor that were a good fit for me. To see if I was on the right track as I began the next chapter – the remainder – of my painting career. It was either luck or intuition or both that drew me to Homare’s class. His assignment to me of the YEAR LONG CANVAS project was, in retrospect, perfection. It demanded that I slow down, take my painting to the level of a meditation, think more, sometimes think less, TRUST myself more and promise that I would follow the process through until it was time for it to be over. I still have a long way to go, and I don’t enjoy painting in really hot weather, not even in air conditioning. I would love to take the summer off, not from painting entirely, but from painting any more on the YLC. But I will not do that.
In spite of the assignment to PLAY for the summer, I have the YLC here staying with me 24/7 in a corner of my studio. I am her vacation retreat. September will come soon enough and I will have to take her to class with me and reveal what has happened to her over the summer break. Think how it might feel to have to read a great book over the time of an entire year – when you are dying to race ahead to the end but you have to pace yourself and allow only a bit to be revealed at a time. What if babies took 12 months instead of 9? How about a year’s worth of working on the same recipe; refining and tweaking and altering until you lose your bleeping mind. A year is enough time to fall completely in and out of the creative mood at least a dozen times – alternating love/hate feelings – and each time you have to find a way to get yourself geared up and hyped up and ready to move forward again…..only to lose that momentum and speed and focus again and again and again.
Of course there is a much larger life lesson here about CHANGE. We hesitate to make changes in our lives based upon fear – fear that the newer will not be as comfortable or as satisfying as was the previous status quo. Fear that we have moved into the unknown at the total expense and obliteration of the known – fear that the life changes we are about to make will not work out and we cannot go backwards and get back again to where we were. It is my personal experience, however, that carefully considered change usually does bring improvement and enhancement with its evolution, and the result is better than expected. This is based upon knowing myself and trusting myself.
So this week I have done just a little work on the canvas and maybe you will notice it and maybe you will not. A slight bit more of purple was added in strategic areas – in about the 10 o’clock area, if you use the clock guideline. Also just a little more of it at about 4 o’clock, drifting over the orange. The purple was added for balance. Next time I work on her I will be gutsy-er, and if you are bordering on boredom, have faith, big change will come. That will be painful but no guts no glory. And I am supposed to trust that the glory will be reincarnated as a new idea every bit as successful and appealing as it was before. I love the quote I have included in this post about CHANGE – and another quote I heard once that says that to request no change at all requires great change in itself!
As a bonus for being so patient with the YLC and me, here at the bottom is another offering, all done and determined to remain that way.