In R.J. Palacio’s 2012 children’s novel Wonder, about a boy living with a rare medical facial difference, a middle school teacher named Mr. Browne encourages his fifth grade class to use precepts to guide the school year. “Like a motto,” says Mr. Browne. “Any saying or ground rule that can motivate you.” On the first day of school, Mr. Browne writes on the blackboard, “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”
In the studio, a precept can be a warm nudge or a non-negotiable command, and this nugget can bleed out past the easel and orbit everyday motions. “Basically, a precept is anything that helps guide us when making decisions about really important things,” says Mr. Browne. When I was growing up, moving between my dad’s upper creative writing studio and his lower painting studio meant passing under a sign placed over the door that read, “Ask me if I care.” Today, the sign remains and I’m able to repeat the question to myself. I think of this precept as, among other things, an affirmation of love: love of art, love of work, love of life. Here are a few more ideas:
“I protect my private, creative space.”
“Each day is a mission of invention.”
“Each day is a mission of caring.”
“I share who I am through my work.”
“Better and better quality is always possible.”
“I cultivate and refine a personal system that serves my mission.”
“I can adapt when I need to.”
“I am part of a bigger creative whole.”
“Knowing they’re not perfect, I complete ideas anyway.”
“I lovingly give the world a reason to get behind me.”
“In order to keep going, I need only make something more.”
PS: “An affirmation is a strong, positive statement that something is already so.” (Shakti Gawain)
Esoterica: For Wonder’s fifth grader Auggie Pullman, the school year tests his courage, joy and creativity in the face of adversity. “Sometimes I think my head is so big because it is so full of dreams,” says Auggie. When asked recently to give art advice to young people, 88-year-old artist Yayoi Kusama replied that real wisdom is gained through personal experience and that we must each independently arrive at our own precepts. “A true direction will come from overcoming adversity. Everyone — think deeply, fight harder and obtain splendid direction for your life. I wish for you to gain guidance from your deep thinking and spread your ideas all over the world in order to establish a wonderful life and world. I think that it is very important. Let’s fight together for it. It is my strongest wish as an artist.”
“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” (Epictetus)
Location: between Puerto Vallarta & Mazatlan, Mexico
Week-long workshop in gorgeous paradise retreat for beginning and intermediate students in oils (or acrylics with experience). You will learn how to create a painting with beautiful light that captures viewers’ attention and keeps them fascinated. Small group size guarantees personal attention.
While you’re busy creating art and exploring, your friendly hosts at Casa Buena will ensure that your stay is memorable. Outstanding accommodations, food, and field trips will satisfy your desire for both comfort and adventure. Spouses are welcome!
For more info, visit: http://www.casabuenaartretreat.com/Retreat_Carol.htm or contact Carole at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 001-757-678-3340 (EST).
There’s a hush… a palpable electric presence radiating from some of the paintings in New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and in the galleries of the Frick Collection.