Is it possible that it is the struggle that actually turns us on?
Myself, I have never actually been on Easy Street. I may have crossed over it a few times from a side street.
I instinctively take the scenic route. And my mother told me, nothing worth doing is easy.
A successfully executed artistic process inevitably makes the results look easy.
Not very many people understand the inherent struggle. They don’t see it.
Or we might not want to show it.
Robert Frost concluded his poem, The Road Not Taken, with these lines:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
If I ever do find myself on Easy Street, I may just turn at the first light.
Sol [Latin: Sun]
sun across the sky.
Sistere [Latin: To Stand Still]
to get a tan.
Days roll into weeks.
Weeks fold into months.
Months trundle along into years.
Years formulate routines.
Routines beget expectations.
Expectations breed worry.
(Cue Bob Marley)
Rise up this morning
Smiled with the rising sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singing sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
This is my message to you-ou-ou
Singing don’t worry about a thing
Cause every little thing gunna be alright…
Worry and expectation impinge on spontaneity.
Spontaneity nourishes creativity.
Referential music link: YouTube
Leaves of every green
Blossoms of every hue
Birds of every feather
Sings every love song ever written.
Dust of every gray
Clutter of every sort
Unopened closets in every room
Out with the old.
Work of personal endeavor
Labor of intensity
Tasks of necessity
In with the new.
Ideas of endless streams
Hope of endless joy
Peace of the endless mind
“Painting is damned difficult – you always think you’ve got it, but you haven’t.” –Paul Cézanne
This weekend I participated in a plein air event in Leland, Michigan. It was the first of the season for me. I’ve done many such paint outs and they are almost always fun, but in reality, they are quite a challenge since there is more than a little expectation to paint something worthwhile by the end of the day.
This year I felt oddly confident in what I wanted to paint and how I wanted to approach it. I decided that I would take my current way of working and simply move it from my studio and do it on a smaller scale outdoors, on location, in gouache.
It was not too long into my first painting that the words of Monsieur Cézanne came back to me…
My new personal quote from the weekend is, “Take nothing for granted. Nothing! Especially when it has anything to do with painting.”
As someone that has done a fair amount of sailing and bike riding, and who also knows that while those activities can be a ridiculous amount of fun there are some very real dangers that can in fact kill you.
As difficult as my reality might’ve been painting over this past weekend, in hindsight I take comfort in the knowledge that it wasn’t going to kill me. Not a chance.
Nevertheless, the wisdom of Cézanne continues to ring true through all these years.
As much as you might like to think that you are on a roll and that you have momentum built up in your work, the truth is each painting you begin starts at square one. This is not a bad thing, by the way, it just is.
While you may know something that you didn’t before, keep in mind: “Take nothing for granted. Nothing! Especially when it has anything to do with painting.”