A STORY — It was nearing the end of the year 2000. Camille and I were meeting every other week to discuss her writing an instructional art book. I was to be her editor or ghost writer or something of that nature. Camille and I have a long history of never entering into any contracts. We would just DO things together never knowing where we would end up. The book project was exciting while it lasted. There were a lot of pages I wrote that she wrote — scribbled nonsensical ramblings with artist's quotes–and paper flying everywhere. Things changed. The project stalled. Suffice it to say; the book never happened. It's now 12 years later. I'm examining and re-examining my life, as a painter and someone who finds pleasure in writing, but almost never writes. And I certainly don't paint as much as I yearn to. But, I am still a professional painter and instructor, and — let's not forget — a life-long student.
I'm in the process of setting priorities in my life such that I ensure that I am living the most productive and creative life possible and just as equally important to me, that I'm inspiring others to do the same. My rough draft for the opening paragraphs of the book that never was:
Enjoy yourself and feel accomplishment in the face of a failed attempt to produce a fine work of art. It's critical that we accept our artistic failures and not let ourselves get upset by them. Try not to be greedy or seek "too hard" to paint that elusive visual truth. As beginners and advanced painters, we must learn to live with and accept our artistic desires without the obsession to satisfy them immediately. Don't fight against what you don't know. We can rest in the knowledge that as we grow, whatever frustrates us in our painting process is impermanent, and it WILL pass. Do not try to control your learning, by over-analyzing and trying to discover formulas or the secret that this book is supposed to provide. Be receptive and JUST PAINT. There is no right way to being a painter — being a painter IS the way. Give up any notions that you're not doing it right. With every painting you do, the closer you'll get to discovering your visual truth.
Are we not often as dissatisfied with what we DO get as with what we don't? The desires we have, if it's not on being "a great painter," or ending world hunger, it's ALWAYS something. Desires just cause us to suffer when we can't live up to them. Sure, acknowledge those dreams, but try not to LIVE for them. If we can give ourselves this freedom, perhaps it can end our suffering through our process of our artistic journey.
The traditional Buddhist term for the cessation of suffering is the Sanskrit word, "Nirvana." It's impossible for me to explain what Nirvana is as I haven't experienced it–not many of us have — it's like describing color to a blind man. But, Nirvana is an unconditioned state of liberation from suffering. Maybe this is what we can experience with our painting if we are not hung up on tormenting ourselves through the process. So, we must make an effort, the visual truth lies in our hands, but we have to work for it. So, what are you waiting for? Paint!
Peggi Kroll-Roberts said...
I LOVE this post Carole.
This IS so well-written, a real keeper. I may have to copy it down, just for my own (perpetual) reading, re-reading. Okay?