Tuesday night was a make-up session in art class. Painters in the Tuesday night group are a lively bunch. A little wine, Pavarotti and life stories mix with the paints. There is a gentleman who does some freaking amazing work on Tuesday night. Amazing. His son started class the night I was there. Cute kid, college grad, on the way to med school. Their sharing of art class could go so well or so wrong and I was drawn to the thought about how hard it could be to share space with a loved one.
In this art space, the father’s talent could be intimidating to the son.”Living in the shadow” type thing. The father could wish more for the son than the son has to offer in talent or desire. It would be easy for the father lion to dominate and domineer.
Allowing a loved one space, personal vision, and autonomy can be hard. You want the best for them. You want to push them to their full potential and at the same time make it easier than the way it went for you. Shortcuts, efficiency, no pain.
Life is about the bumps and cuts and bruises gained in the living process. You never really feel something without getting your hands dirty. To save the troubles, tribulations and mess ups weakens the backbone.
The balance is assisting, showing, sharing and teaching while at the same time understanding that the other’s approach won’t be like yours- it is through a different lens. They have a different vision and a different style. It is beautiful in its own way. It’s not the anti-way (my mom will get this statement) but rather the unique expression of their history folding into present/future.
Having a child, I live out the fact that this is a hard feat to accomplish. I know I mess it up all the time and for that, I’m sorry. I give myself grace and allow that awareness is what is important. There is no manual. I had two great teachers (yes, they got it mixed up sometimes too). Through their efforts to let me/make me learn by trial and error-and stand by me through it all- I feel firsthand what it is like to be given that wide berth which in turn allows me to pass that down in hopes that it will be understood, honored and carried forward through yet another generation.
This is my 2nd painting and now I’m judgy. Nothing was expected of me on painting #1 (The Pear), from my teachers or myself. I had the freedom to just go with it and try my hardest. The very fact that I COULD do it was enough.
Painting #2 rolls around and so does JUDGMENT. I have just enough knowledge of the process to start setting minimum standards. I have a bar, a measure of my previous work and so I tell myself this one has to be as good or better as the first. Oy, the PRESSURE. Why do I judge myself and apply pressure? This is one activity that takes me out of my head and into creative. And here I go jumping right back into reality – with pedal to the metal no less!
Judgment comes in many flavors from the “I am not good enough because —— , I will never be able to do that because ——, “ to the “That person is more — than me and I am inferior to them because —–” or “Wow, they really are strange because that is not like my life experience or me.”
I lean toward the “I know I am capable and challenge myself to go further, add more, perform at a higher level, no going back- I’m not doing enough otherwise” kind of judgment. How limiting.
When we drop judgment we open up to new possibilities and full potential. We let go of control and outcomes based on what we have known to date.
Goal for the week
Actively approach the person or situation that I have experienced before with the following thought:
“I am going to see this situation/person for what it is and not jump to an outcome based on previous experience. That was yesterday and I am open to the concept that today’s experience could be very different.”
Two phrases come to mind- the yin/yang of to judge or not to judge:
One bitten twice shy = leery, closed, cautious, permanent, stuck
Second Chance = new, fresh, do-over, redemption, clean slate, open
This is the week of the Second Chance, it sounds so much better!
Are you with me??
This is the final session on my first painting. There are two ways I can mentally approach my finished painting:
1. I can focus on what I perceive to be imperfections; the little mess ups and inconsistencies. I can choose to zero in on the “warts” first and foremost. This approach can prevent me from seeing the painting as a whole.
2. I can start my view of the painting as a whole piece. After taking in the entire finished product, I can see and appreciate a few “warts”. These “warts” give my painting depth, emotion and a personal quality. The painting is a beautiful sum of its not so beautiful parts.
Art mirrors life. Everything and everyone has “warts”. If the consideration of those “warts” becomes primary then I think that diminishes our happiness. My ego wants you to look at me as a whole first- judge me on the basis of my best side please, then get to my “warts”. Once you have seen the whole me it will be easier for you to accept my imperfections. You just might find a few of them to be charming- the things that give me depth, emotion and personality.
How can we possibly age (happily) together in a long term relationship if we focus on the “warts” above all else? How can we have the will to face another very imperfect day if we nit pick it to death from sunrise to sundown? Everything is better when it is seen from the best possible vantage point.
Far better to thank the stars for our mates – the ones who see our “warts” and then look the other way- than to hone in on their negatives. Does it matter that the towel doesn’t get hung in the proper place? Is it so bad that there is less hair in one place and more in other areas?
I need to remember this when I am seeing others. I need to remember this as I move through my day. I need to especially remember this with my mate. Otherwise, I lose out on the ability to truly love people and things outside of myself.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all from a person who is truly grateful for having a most accepting mate. And a finished painting- warts and all 😉
Red. It is one of my favorite colors. It is really is getting the best of me in this painting. It is truly pissing me off. Why does it act the way it does on canvas? The color slides around and won’t stay put. It does not play well with the other colors. It shouts NO, I wont be a part of this blending in that you want to do over there….Nope, I stand alone.
It occurred to me that this red color has a distinct behavior due to its chemical make up, its DNA so to speak. Not knowing much about red, I was clueless to its traits and became frustrated very quickly. I still don’t know the science behind it but I’ll learn. For now, I must accept that red acts like it does due to its nature and I will find work-arounds. I need red and therefore a little patience and knowledge will go a long way in helping me see red’s full potential.
How many red people do I see every day? They drive down the roads next to me, make my coffee, press my clothes and collect my garbage each week. Who knows what is deep down in them, in their DNA, that will never see daylight? I have no idea about their story and how it drives their behavior. The only thing that I see is how that red manifests itself in a bad attitude or negative, destructive acts. So I need to cut the red people some slack. Oh wait- don’t we all have a little red in us?
I have red and you do too. Depending on how things are going in our lives we can keep the wheels on pretty well and prevent our red from bothering others. But there are those days…. From now on I’ll remember the red paint when I experience behavior that doesn’t jive with the situation. I’ll know that I need to let it be, I cannot change it exactly. What I can do is to find a work-around, a way to see past the red and to the real human in front of me (and inside myself). Maybe, just maybe, if I learn about the red in the person, I can be more compassionate and meet them where they are in life.
So there you have it. My beautiful red color is much, much deeper than I ever thought and so are most of the people I come in contact with every day, including my most intimate friends and family. I’m stopping with the red for today, I’ll give it time to dry and then start on it again so it won’t be so ornery with the blending. Knowing when to step back and regroup is all that is needed sometimes.
Sometimes I have this troubling dream/nightmare. The scene is different but the essence is the same. It’s a point in time where I am being chased or hunted by someone or something ready to give me more than my share of ill will. Standing there, I am at the point of no return. I am trying to scream for attention; anything to make this go away. But I can’t get it out. Nothing comes out of my mouth. I am pushing air as hard as possible but it is like I have long term laryngitis. There is a very soft sound but nothing else. I’m paralyzed in my throat but no where else.
Painting today was very similar but with the focus on color. I have a most excellent and patient teacher and that really goes a long way in keeping this fun. Mind you my first painting is basic starter level. Limited color, limited light variation, and simple subject. A pear THANK GOODNESS!
Mixing colors, getting the right balance, keeping them as true as possible to what I see on the original is a daunting task. I equate it to what a writer must go through in finding just the right word to express the thought, action or emotion of a story. The nuance of the word (color additive) means everything. Then you have the blending and bleeding from one concept (color) to the next. There is an infinite number of ways you can combine words (or colors) and the choices can be overwhelming. It can quickly smack you down; letting you know how much you really don’t know, mister.
Then I stood back and realized- Isn’t this like all of life?: Hard, complicated, messy, choices galore. Sometimes it balances, sometimes not. Often it flows so well, with just the right nuance and seemingly no effort, only to snarl up and drop you to your knees.
Today, when I wanted to get the color so exact is where the wheels fell off. It gets “unfun” fast. Same in life. When I start to control too much, get too focused on outcomes, it gets “unfun”.
So- lesson for today. Absolutely practice and learn technique but at the same time don’t focus so much on the details that I loose sight of the joy of being able to manifest what I vision in my head. Work hard at seeing how I can improve but make sure that I’m seeing the whole picture along with the possibilities.
Live life without hard lines or exact colors.
It started in the parking lot at Home Depot late October 2014. Thoughts of bringing out a new creative side of me were dancing in my head. Sewing- check. Photography- check. Paper making- check. Gardening- check. Marathon running- check. I needed a new personal challenge.
Something drew me to google “Art Classes” right then and there. Little did I know that I was sitting, buckled up and in parked position not a half mile from one of the most laid back and professional art studios in town.
I scrolled the website and viewed the photos of middle-aged people (I’m almost there so “like me”) joyfully creating happy little trees. No seriously, I recognized an artist in one of the images. I have seen his work in the gallery at the JCC and have always admired his work. He is there? Am I worthy? Hmmm. Maybe this is too much. Maybe this is too high stakes and too high brow for my abilities. After all, I have never put brush to canvas. Wait a minute I tell myself. I am a master at paint-by-number ponies, dogs and cats from childhood! Doesn’t that qualify? I don’t think so. Shush up my negative side! Be quiet! Let the creativity flow without judgement. Isn’t being creative about being ME? If this new challenge is for me and not for others then who cares what others think, right? RIGHT! Pick up the phone. Make the call. What can it hurt?
Whew, I am so glad I got the answering machine. That was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. I’m off the hook. They probably won’t ever return my call. You know those artist types. Brrrring… not 10 minutes later: “Hi, this is Judy from Schrodt Art Studio, you called asking about lessons?” Yep. Welcome to the newest chapter in life. It was Kismet, meant to be.
January 17th and my first day in class. Judy showed me around.The best thing about today (aside from the painting) was this story:
Judy’s uncle died. Her Aunt was in a scramble to get a few of the Uncle’s personal items into a bag to take to the funeral home so they could start the preparation for the open casket viewing. The day of the viewing arrived and people were passing to pay their respects. The Aunt walked up for her turn and stated loudly, “So there’s where my sunglasses went!”. In the casket, in a restful positition, was Judy’s Uncle replete with the Aunt’s missing sunglasses which had fallen into the bag during the shuffle. ;-).
The three hours passed in an instant while I was learning my new trade. What remains is the vision and warm emotion of the day. The camaraderie and openness that came from the group. About seven people, for around ten years, thrown together every Saturday morning over an easel. Bearing out surgeries, deaths, births and countless crazy funny stories about their lives. The small pear that I am trying to shape into well, a pear, is probably not why my soul guided me here. There is a greater purpose and I look forward to letting it unfold to me. In the meantime, I will keep going and painting and listening. Maybe I will create something worthy of the canvas and oil invested. I’m certainly getting full value for my time.