A Wild and Precious Life

The Studio Waits

“Summer was past and the day was past.
Sombre clouds in the west were massed.”

Robert Frost’s poignant poem, “Bereft” includes these lines, and they came to mind today, although in this case:

“Winter was past and the cold was past. Fluffy clouds in the west were massed.”

Spring has come, and with it the flowers of the season, the budding branches, the greening grass, the longer days and a new urgency about getting back to the studio – to the canvas and the paints. To the jazz. To my work.

The garden still needs my attention, but with the daffodil and tulip bulbs doing so well, and new plants in their pots around the space, the other piece of my life calls. The daffodils are in full bloom just as the rest of the daffodils in town wither and go back to hibernation, and the tulips are well on the way.

I have new canvases waiting for me. New paint colors. New ideas. And I’m getting plugged into my new local art community.

I’ll be honest. It was a long, long winter. Long, dark, wet. My studio shed turned out to be way too chilly even with the heater on. And damp. Not a good combination for work. Changes will be made before next winter, but with the warmer weather and more light, more things are possible and are calling me.

I was challenged over the winter with more lessons in patience. Someone told me years ago that “patience” was my lesson in this lifetime, and I actually heard myself reply that I hoped I could hurry up and learn it! We are so humanly transparent to ourselves if we only listen.

I impatiently planted seeds way too soon, my eagerness to see the result overriding the common sense of the plants’ timing. I mean the internal DNA of the plant clock. The seeds’ knowledge was way smarter than me about when to grow and I was soon reminded that it would be “when it was doggoned ready.”

So I have relaxed now and with that relaxation comes comfort. Things will happen as they will.

The new plants will grow and bloom. The birds will hang out in the trees. The mysterious flowering trees in the front yard will flower and then fade. The wisteria will be beautiful and then it won’t. Turn, turn, turn.

And I will paint.

I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket. I’ll be writing and teaching, too, and tending to the garden as needed. I already know I may not be seen as serious as many artists. I had an art show lined up for this month, but opted to let it go because (a) it was many miles from my new location and (b) I made a conscious decision not to show my work except in galleries. It’s just a personal choice.

My first three shows were in galleries, and they were all wonderful experiences.

Then I moved north, back to my home territory, where I found a different scenario and fewer opportunities. The pressure to show “any place you can” is okay, but it’s not for everybody, and it’s not for me. The pandemic didn’t improve anything, of course, but it didn’t mean I should stop being who I am as an artist. Or sticking to my own standards.

It feels good to relax and to know a lot more about how I want to approach this.

Bayles & Orland in Art and Fear have things to say about all this, to wit:
“Today, more than it was however many years ago, art is hard because you have to keep after it so consistently. On so many different fronts. For so little external reward. Artists become veteran artists only by making peace not just with themselves, but with a huge range of issues. You have to find your work, all over again all the time, and to do that you have to give yourself maneuvering room on many fronts–mental, physical, temporal. Experience consists of being able to reoccupy useful space easily, instantly.”

I’ve reached the age when a person begins to ask even more seriously than before the existential question posed by poet Mary Oliver:

 “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

This is not a trick question, but surely one worth considering no matter how much or how little of your wild and precious life you believe is ahead of you.

I know that I am never going to be a Radio City Music Hall rockette, a long ago answer to this question. I am unlikely to win a Nobel prize. The plays I wrote have been produced but will not appear on Broadway. I am not going to live in the south of France. And I also know that my paintings will not be hanging in the Louvre. But I am an artist. Artists do art.

And I will. This season, I may have a trowel in one hand and a palette knife in the other, living my one wild and precious life. Let the fun begin!

8 thoughts on “A Wild and Precious Life

  1. Friends like you are my real inspiration, Janice! Sending a hug and a hello!!!

  2. Amen…you are such an inspiration. Can’t wait to see your new creations, Molly.

  3. Good to hear from you, Beverley! And thank you for the kind words. Just been baking banana bread from scratch and sorting further on what’s important these days!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s