Reboot #18

Many times in my life I have decided that I would begin making art everyday. There have been many times that I wrote “Day 1” at the top of a sketchbook page. Sometimes I get up to Day 15 or 20 before the other important parts of my life require attention and the creation of art falls to the wayside. If the time between painting sessions gets too long, I get crabby and resentful of nothing in particular. When I pick up a paintbrush or pen again and get lost in the making of marks, my brain says, “Ah yes. This. I like this.” Again I write “Day 1” at the top of a sketchbook page and again a few days later I fail to keep it up.

Colorful abstract oak leaves with white outlines.
2017 “Collected Leaves”

At one point I decided that this self-inflicted expectation is unhealthy and I should stop. Maybe painting is something from my past and now it is time to move on. I did not paint for months. I got crabby. Registering for a painting class helped. When I talked with others in the class about this idea of giving up painting, I got emotional. That surprised me. Apparently painting is really important to me and I should keep doing it.

During that class, it seemed to me that I loved the act of painting but hated the thought of preparing for a show. Shows are a lot of work! In addition to the time and money needed to frame the paintings, there is the psychological stress of putting myself out there to be inspected and judged. The thought of building a body of work carried with it the expectation that a show would follow. That fear is what held me back. During the class I decided that I would make art without a thought to who would see it. I gave myself permission to make it just for me.

My subconscious did not believe me. It did not take long for my artmaking to disappear again. On November 11, 2018, I wrote “Reboot #18” at the top of my sketchbook. It has been not quite a month, but so far so good. I have no idea if this is actually the 18th time I have re-committed to a regular schedule of creating art. Probably it has been more times than that. The exact number is not important. It is the understanding that starting again is OK. Gone is the promise that it is just for me. That fear needs to be faced. Art is to be seen by other humans. The reactions of the others might be positive or negative, but I am who I am and my art is what it is. I may begin over again many more times in my life. I fall down and I get up. That is life.

If I can forgive myself for the times that I fail to create, I think I will create more often. Find the joy. For me, the joy is found watching the form and light appear the paper. “Ah yes. This. I like this.”

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