No time to paint

35

Dear Artist,

While mingling at an 85-year-old’s birthday party recently, I overheard a conversation between two artists: “How’s your work going?” asked the first. “It’s not. I haven’t picked up a brush in months,” said the second. “No time to paint.” They batted, back and forth, the creativity-hijacking perils of family, social obligations, sports, studio rent, Thanksgiving and the deadly word, “worthwhile” — as in, “I’m not doing it enough to make the sacrifices worthwhile.” The cake came, everyone sang, the candles were blown out and a wish was made. “The secret to life,” nudged our host, “is that you need to do what you really want to do.”

The Cradle, 1872 oil on canvas 56 x 46 cm by Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)

The Cradle, 1872
oil on canvas
56 x 46 cm
by Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)

The following day, I told my mum about the exchange, and her response was, “I remember attending a function with your dad, where several other artists were present. There was only one woman, and as the others compared their glorious focus, stretches of time and discoveries, I could see that the woman artist was about to burst into tears. An artist needs a wife.”

I thought about my own wife fantasies. Then, I remembered my friend Chris, a musician, husband, father and teacher, who once confided that he hadn’t written a song since his son was born. “No time” — frustrating, heartbreaking and potentially soul destroying — isn’t just for women. It seems no matter your circumstances, there will always be something to pull you away. Art, for an artist, is a solitary and focus-dependent quest that’s crucial to the soul, yet easy to de-prioritize. The consequences of this neglect can be irrevocably life altering.

In the Wheatfield at Gennevilliers, c. 1875 oil on canvas 69 x 46.5 cm by Berthe Morisot

In the Wheatfield at Gennevilliers, c. 1875
oil on canvas
69 x 46.5 cm
by Berthe Morisot

Sincerely,

Sara

PS: “It’s been my experience that dedicated artists will always find a way.” (Robert Genn)

Esoterica: Just between us, I’ve noticed that I often struggle to enjoy activities that don’t somehow involve my creative work. How indulgently focused mid-life has become; child-free, with vibrant and healthy loved ones and a close circle of extremely art-enthused friends — including you. Each day, from the start, we make micro-decisions that, if true to ourselves, reflect our innermost drives and desires. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and we’re each building our own Rome — be it family, community, security, adventure, or a creative purpose, which is, by the way, worthwhile and worthy of exploring by the very nature of it existing inside of us. If you’re short on time, carve out what my dad called, “one lovely little hour” and focus hard and exclusively on that which burns inside of you. Before you know it, you’ll have built something you really wanted.

Study, The Water's Edge, 1864 oil on canvas 60 x 73.4 cm by Berthe Morisot

Study, The Water’s Edge, 1864
oil on canvas
60 x 73.4 cm
by Berthe Morisot

The Letters: Vol. 1 and 2, narrated by Dave Genn, are available for download on Amazon, here. Proceeds of sales contribute to the production of The Painter’s Keys.

“Real painters understand with a brush in their hand.” (Berthe Morisot)

“Work is love made visible.” (Kahlil Gibran)

 

 

 

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