A Change in the Weather

Snow Moon

The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.” – Robert Burns, “To a Mouse”

If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong. Corollary: If there is a worse time for something to go wrong, it will happen then. – Murphy’s Law

The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.”  – Tennessee Williams, “Camino Real”

It’s a day for philosophy instead of art, although the philosophy is most definitely tied to the art. Wrapped up in it, let me say.

Now that the garden projects are well underway, and spring with its warmer weather seemed to be here or just around the nearest corner, I had planned to get back to the studio this week.

Then the weather changed.

I do not want to appear as a fair-weather artist, but I also am a little beyond trying to paint in a frigid garret wearing a jacket, scarf and fingerless mittens. Once upon a time it was a moderately romantic idea, but this far into my life and work, it’s just a miserable annoyance.

Snow was in the forecast today after a temperature near 80 just 48 hours before. Yes, I thought it might actually happen, but no, I didn’t believe it would be possible. I mean, climate change is one thing, but has the earth slipped entirely on its axis?

And a warm rain is one thing – almost always welcome – but sleet and snow? In mid-April?

Let me be clear. I know this is a petty, entitled whine when people are being bombed out of their homes, shot on sight, and trying to live some kinds of lives in the face of Russian tyranny. I know this.

I apologize for this artist’s whine, but I also know that art is so often the balance to the misery of the world. I know that art has been a valued human activity for thousands of years – in good times and in bad.

I know that even my own modest work has touched people who have told me as much, just as the modest work of other artists has touched my life.

I value the work of every artist I know even when I do work that’s very different from theirs.

On cold, rainy days when I am not able to work in the studio, I read. And the book I most often turn to is Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards of Artmaking) by David Bayles & Ted Orland.

As I wait out the cold and the rain and the possible snow today, two thoughts come to mind. The first is this passage from Bayles & Orland:

“Artists come together in the clear knowledge that when all is said and done, they will return to their studio and practice their art alone. Period. That simple truth may be the deepest bond we share. The messages across time from the painted bison and carved ivory seal speaks not of the differences between the makers of that art and ourselves, but the similarities. Today those similarities lay hidden beneath urban complexity – audience, critics, economics, trivia – in a self-conscious world. Only in those moments when we are truly working on our own work do we recover the fundamental connection we share with all makers of art. The rest may be necessary, but it’s not art. Your job is to draw a line from your life to your art that is straight and clear.”

And the second is this Scottish proverb:

There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.”

So today I will not be wearing my artist’s garb – the ratty old shirts and the paint-smeared apron from El Nido in Rosarito, Mexico. Today I’ll be in my regular clothes with my kitchen apron. I’ll be cooking dinner and waiting for better studio weather. Tomorrow who knows, but I’ll be ready for my paints and canvas. Ready to draw that straight line from my life to my art.

When the artist is ready, the studio days will come.


4 thoughts on “A Change in the Weather

  1. Beverley, I love your vision! It’s always so great when two minds connect!!

    Thanks for the note…

  2. Wow, Molly, you covered so much good stuff. I had a vision of the bison artist, in a cave out of the storm, working on the bison.

    Thank you so much!


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