Thursday, November 4, 2010

Does the Journey Lack Purpose?

Do you ever have days when you wonder what you're doing and why?  I've had a few of those this week and wondered if my artistic journey was worth the effort.  I had a great debate with myself, going back and forth trying to convince myself that pursuing visual arts is something I should be doing with my life.  Is there something more important that I should be tending to or am I neglecting part of my life that I will live to regret?  Does anyone care about whether or not I take this journey or should I plead temporary insanity and crawl back into my shell and pull the blinds down to keep out the light.  What light?  Any light that might "enlighten" me and make me think about and realize what I'm doing.

What am I doing?  I'm sharing the details of my exploration into the realm of visual arts.  I'm emphasizing "visual" arts because there are so many aspects of art, such as dance, poetry, writing, and music to name a few.  My journey takes me through areas of visual arts that I think I should try just so I can see if it's something I might consider pursuing and ultimately enjoy enough that I make it part of my artistic routine.
Yes, I do have a routine.  That statement might come as a shock to some, but I really do plan out my days and don't just wander around, cup of tea in hand and gaze out the window, watch a little telly and so on until it's time to turn out the lights and crawl back into bed.  I get up, shower, feed Molly, grab a quick breakfast and take my tea with me and log in on my computer.  I check my various e-mail accounts, do any banking that might be necessary, read through Twitter to see if any tweets directed to me require a response and then I grab the paints and get to work.  I rough out mentally what I hope to accomplish that particular day and ultimately through the week.

Sounds like a pretty typical day for me, but there are other things going on behind the scenes.  I keep paper and pen handy to jot down notes as ideas come to me while I'm painting.  My paper could contain anything from things I need to purchase at the art store the next time I'm there, ideas for other paintings, possible topics for future postings, phone calls I need to make and so on.  Again, nothing earth shattering or of great interest to anyone other than myself.  As I paint, I listen to classical music on the radio.  I find this less jarring than loud rock music and less intense than opera.  I'm definitely not a lover of opera.  I have to turn the radio off when the blue grass music is played on the weekend.  Can't handle that.  I like the jazz that is played on weeknights and Saturday night.  It's good music to paint to and keeps me engaged with both the music and the subject of my painting.  For the most part, my journey has focussed on painting or making cards.  I need to branch out and try more things or at least try different types of painting.  I need to try abstracts and see what colours show up on the canvas when I paint in that fashion.  What will emerge if I try to do a portrait?  Will landscapes enthrall me or cause me to wince when I look at them?  So many questions to which I don't have answers yet.

I also have to admit to a secret longing to write and illustrate a children's book.  I mentioned this in an earlier post.  Well, it's more than just a secret longing.  I do have two stories started, but sitting collecting dust on a shelf in my studio/bedroom.  What a shame, two lovely little stories that need to be fleshed out, the story scribed on pages enlivened with some colourful pictures, just sitting there calling to me each day to bring them out and see if maybe this is the day that I turn the corner and keep on writing until I have a completed story written out and finally start to rough out the illustrations.  What is holding  me back?  Why am I ignoring my inner writer/artist and denying its existance?  I have the answer and it embarrasses me to tell you, but I want to be open and sincere in what I write, so I will tell you.  I'm afraid.  I'm so afraid that my little stories that I love so much will be laughed at and cause me to feel less.  Feel less?  What does that mean?  It means that I'm human and I make mistakes and that I feel you will think that I must be some kind of fool to think that I might possess the talent to write.  What I think might be a lovely little story may make someone else laugh with derision and wonder if I'm for real and how could I be so foolish as to think that anyone would be interested in a children's story?  That would break my heart and more importantly break my spirit if I let it. 

Fear holds us back from trying so many things that we really want to try.  We might want to try a particular recipe, but we don't because we fear our family or guests will laugh at our attempts.  But how are we to learn if we don't try?  We need to lose the fear of what others will think and choose to think that this is a wonderful path to wander down and while we're doing this, we'll grab a few new spices, paint colours, ideas off of the shelf, put them in our basket and when we reach our safe spot, try them out.  Our safe spot, hmm, what or where might that be?  It might be our studio, our kitchen, a nice little nook where we have a desk and computer set up or any of dozens of places in our homes.  It's the spot we retreat to when we have some serious or not so serious things to mull over.  Everyone should have a safe spot.  Call it whatever you like whether it's your studio, office, kitchen or den, it's still a spot where you feel safe enough to open up your soul and bring to light new ideas.  It's the spot where no one is watching over your shoulder and laughing at you for trying.  You feel safe, comfortable and in control.  You feel that maybe, just maybe you're ready to take that next step and try that something that you've wanted to do for so long, but haven't had the courage.  You feel that now is the time and at this moment you commit to giving it a try.  If you don't try you won't ever know if your project could become a success.  At this moment, you need to think how good it will feel to finally start and make progress on this journey.  Envision the end of that path.  You've finished the story, the painting or tried that special recipe and maybe it didn't turn out quite the way you had hoped, but you know that with a little tinkering here and there, that you will have a completed project worthy of being brought out into the daylight for all to see.  You might not win an award for what you've done, but you commited to something and have taken it right through to the end.  That my friend, is an accomplishment in itself. 

I'm in my safe spot as I type out this post.  Molly is dozing behind me, every once in a while mumbling kitten sounds as she sleeps.  Leave it to me to have a cat that chatters in her sleep.  But I do and it makes me smile every time.  Maybe this is something to consider putting in one of my stories.  I've been thinking a lot about these stories and many other things artistic over the past few days.  I pondered if I should write about my doubts in this post.  Finally, I decided that not to write about what I was thinking would be dishonest.  My thoughts are as much a part of my journey as the actual activities.  What I think about and put to page is just as important because they show the progress of my mental journey and hopefully add more for you to consider as you read this post.  Hopefully, my thoughts are something of a starting point for you in your journey.  I hope that you are as honest with yourself about what you are avoiding trying as I have been here with you, but more importantly with myself.

Back to my original question of whether or not this journey has a purpose and is it a worthwhile journey.  My answer is a resounding, YES.  After all my doubts and internal rumblings, much like thunder during a storm, the sun has come out and the mist cleared.  I see the purpose of the journey is as much to learn about myself as it is to learn about all things artistic.  I feel the need to let you know that I have the same doubts that you do.  I am very much an artist learning what is down this unmarked path and willing to take the chance to see where it leads and what I learn.  This is a journey full of promise and to pursue it will not only possibly teach me a new craft, but will teach me many things about myself.  But, I have to be willing to take the challenge even though I don't know the outcome or if it will please anyone, but more importantly, if it will please me.

So, will my children's stories come down off of the shelf and will I take the chance to make them come to life? The final answer is yes, I will take the chance.  I will work on them thinking of the smiles that they will bring to a child's face.  That child is in all of us, so when I feel that the stories are ready, I'll share them with you and hope that you too will feel that these stories were waiting to be told and passed on.  Hopefully, I'll be able to show you the illustrations, most likely in my gallery.  But at some point the story and illustrations will come together in book form, ready to be shared with many others.  That will be what I will leave behind when my time comes to go to the next level in life.

Let me know what you think about this post or any other post I've written.  I've shared the very essence of  me with you and hope that it encourages you to take a chance.  But, like any author of a blog, I need some feedback from you in order to know what you would like to hear about and where you hope the journey goes next.  I'm seeing some pretty interesting ideas show up in my notebook and I'll try to put them to life on canvas so you can see what ideas come to me and how they came to be.  Every canvas has a story.  Claudia (@oliviosartstudio) knows about some of my potential projects and my initial fears about them.  But, that's a whole other post to come.  Meanwhile, take a look at Claudia's web site, the URL is to the right of this post under the heading "Some other sites you might find interesting."  I can guarantee you that you will find her site more than interesting.

Take the time to stop and enjoy life and its challenges.  Life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured, that I know for certain!

Sincerely,  Rutheemac

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