(This article was originally published on March 6, 2003, on my now-defunct Radio Userland blog. But it still holds wisdom for me today!) (I realized a Wayback Wednesday, though alliterative, was not a good idea, as it follows the day after my Fine Art Views column is published. So…WayBack Saturday instead!)
A cry for help appeared on a list serve I subscribe to. An artist who gave up painting for years is determined to take it up again. Unfortunately, all her paints are so hardened in their tubes, they are almost unusuable. Can anyone tell her how to salvage them??
I’m not sure how welcome my advice would be, but it’s clear to me the universe is sending a message here, loud and clear.
BUY NEW PAINTS.
What a huge obstacle she has already overcome! The urge to paint again is wonderful, and I would wholeheartedly tell this artist to go for it. But the artist is stuck again, already. “I can’t paint until I fix my paint.”
Where have we heard that before? Well, I used to hear it every day. And sometimes, when I’m down or overwhelmed with the simple problems that ‘simply living’ entails, I still hear it:
“I should do the laundry first.”
“I really need to run a few errands first.”
“I’ve got to get this mailing out this week–I’ll work on some new jewelry ideas later.”
Sometimes it feels like my passion for my art is the last thing I take care of.
Maybe those paints are ruined for a reason.
Maybe the universe is sending a message here.
You can paint again, it says, but maybe it’s time to start anew. To start fresh, with new ideas, new inspiration, maybe an entirely new direction.
Maybe it’s time to play with colors again, to regain the same sense of wonder and excitement when you first began to paint. And then to move ahead in a different way. Forge a new path.
But to do this, you need to get rid of everything that held you back the last time.
Maybe you don’t have to do penance by fixing those paints. Maybe the message is, “Go out and buy wonderful new paint. Buy some of your favorite old colors, but try something different, too.”
You have found your inspiration to paint again, and you’re determined to really set aside the time and energy it deserves. And that means not wasting time and energy working to revive dead paint.
What a lesson for me today! I’ve been sitting in the middle of an overwhelmingly messy studio, bemoaning the fact that I “should” clean up before I get back to work.
Then I get the note about dried up paint.
Maybe it’s really okay to just jump right into making something today, messy space notwithstanding. Maybe it’s okay to do a little cleaning up after I have fun. Hmmmmm….*
*New note: As I edited this post, it came to me…. Many people, including me, have been unconsciously trained/conditioned to take care of everything and everybody else before we take care of our own needs and desires.
And yet, we have all been given gifts, creative gifts, that are just that: Something special, something extra, something that can make the world a better place.
Our desire to make something beautiful, no matter what form it is, is a gift.
And whoever/whatever gave it to us, will be honored when we make room–and time–for it in our lives.
So put on your oxygen mask (or Covid-19 mask!) and make something beautiful today. Whether it’s your art, your music, your story-telling, your care, whatever your superpower is, put it in the world. Today.
Because the world will be better for it, because of you.