This weekend I was working on two pieces of calligraphy at once, which is pretty common. One was a full quote and the other I was just adding to an existing piece. As any artist knows there is a lot of practice involved in creating art. Sometimes I’m a bit frugal with my paper as even my practice pad is Canson.
After I had worked out some spacing details with one piece I reused that page to choose the nib and slant for some Copperplate to be used somewhere else
And then I read what was written
Moment by moment
the challenge is to keep
moment by moment
moment by moment
moment by moment
your sense of the future
moment by moment
moment by moment
moment by moment
Suddenly the realization was there, you can only fulfill those challenges moment by moment. Each moment builds on the last and creates a space for the next moment. Hopefully I will carry this lesson with me.
While waiting at a red light this morning on the morning drive to work there were two women in my line of sight. One was in her late twenties or early thirties dressed in running gear jogging down the sidewalk. The other was an older woman, perhaps seventies, painstakingly walking on the sidewalk opposite the jogger.
There was a confidence to the runner that was palpable. Her head was erect, shoulders back, stride long and a small self satisfied smile on her face as she ran past. It seemed obvious this was a frequent habit and she was running comfortably.
The older woman was leaning heavily on a cane. Her face was a bit pinched with the effort and you could see the toll walking was taking on her. Every few steps this woman had to stop not to catch her breathe but because the discomfort of walking would overwhelm her.
As is human, I related both women to myself and realized that my experience bridges these two people. For about twenty years I ran three to five days a week, was careful of my stride and posture while running and had self pride in my efforts.
Now, thanks to running on streets and not tracks, I have arthritis in my feet and have become a walker instead. As I age my gait is not as strong and when my feet hurt I’m sure my posture is not as precise.
So here I inhabit a space right in between these women. Many women of middle years inhabit this same space. The challenge is to progress from runner to frail with grace. To make sure we not only take infinite care of our bodies but also relieve ourselves of ego. This way when the time comes we can lean on our canes with joy that we are still walking.
In other words, we need to prepare to rock our canes.
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor” This should be the anthem of every artist in the world. Whether a painter, writer, calligrapher or poet we all need to embrace the imperfect. We need to literally hope for flaws because it is the flaws that catch an eye, flaws that create texture and flaws that give art life and humanity. If we were not drawn to the imperfect then we would have no need for human created art, computer generated art would suffice.
Allowing imperfection in our artistic lives gives us the room to try new art forms. Being comfortable with making mistakes is what makes a sculpture decide to try painting or a calligrapher try blogging and drawing. Indeed allowing the imperfect to be part of our lives is what gives us the confidence to try anything we haven’t done before.
So often on an art board or in an online artists group someone will post a piece and then write a caveat about how they know it’s not good or that there are flaws. Stop! Have you ever taken a really close look at a Van Gogh? There are spots in every painting and drawing that are down right messy, down right imperfect. But he was a master and his art is lyrical in part because of the “flaws” and the areas that catch our eye and create an emotion.
The two drawings above are flawed. They are imperfect. There are problems with everything from crooked lines and un-round circles to poor perspective. And that is just fine. They are not meant to be perfect, they are meant to practice and to learn and to be a starting point to what might someday be a better (though never perfect) drawing.
Hopefully more artists will to feel pride in all their art,, the really good and the well it’s a start kind of art. That is why you will see my “imperfect” art posted as readily as my really good stuff. Maybe it will encourage someone stuck in the perfection oppression to break out and try finger painting or spatter art.
Maybe some painter will try stand up comedy or a poet will break out the modelling clay. Perfect is an impossible task master. A true tyrant in our own minds, one that keeps us from trying and striving and experimenting with all the art forms that are out there.
In other words, let’s have some fun.
The assumption is we get a dog, take good care of her, shower her with affection, give her good food and treats and she will love you. Not always so.
My mom convinced me to get Gracie on a whim. Mom said the puppy would be perfect for my younger son and gave lots more great reasons to get her from the owners of a farm stand we frequently shopped. I know, all the wrong reasons, all the wrong everything, but mom had just lost her husband of 50+ years and there was no way I was going to deny her anything. So Gracie came home with us and of course she and mom were best friends much to the chagrin of mom’s middle aged Yorkie.
A few years later mom went to live with my brother about 100 miles away. It was a good move for her but she could only bring one dog and of course she chose the Yorkie .
Gracie was left with me,
and became mopey
and lost weight
for a long time.
Then one day Gracie took a shine to a renter of mine and basically moved in with her . They fell in love with each other and were constant companions for two years. Gracie would visit me a few hours in the evening and then go back to her companion. She was happy and put on some weight and sometimes would even permit me to pet her while she sat on my lap in a most imperious manner. Gracie is a Shih Tzu after all!
The renter moved out last week
and not eating (unless it’s steak)
It breaks my heart that she is so unhappy, but maybe if I’m lucky someday she will take a shine to me. I’m a nice person, really. Maybe some day she will like me best and we can be companions,
This is the same quote as used yesterday. Yesterday’s post was about how useful fear is and how we should be grateful for having it in our lives. It was also about moving beyond fear into the joy of life.
Last night life reminded me of why we have fear, how it is needed and how it is an intrinsic part of the fabric of our lives. Without fear we run a far greater risk of death, period.
One of my sons has a mental illness, serious enough that he is on permanent disability. His mental illness is somewhat controlled with medication and he lives a structured and calm life with me to reduce problems. Most of the time his life is okay and I try to bring joy into his life whenever possible.
Unfortunately, I got lazy and complacent. His medication schedule became lax and a bit spotty. we didn’t miss many pills but we missed enough. We were lulled into forgetting the danger.
Last night something upset my son and sent him spiraling into a frenzy, a very powerful frenzy. Very powerful indeed and I felt fear. Fear for myself, fear for my son and fear for the night’s outcome. Fear is what gave me the laser focus, the words, the patience and the calm needed to help my son come back from the edge of the abyss, back from the howling darkness. Fear is what kept us all safe. Fear is what will make me more vigilant about medication schedules in the future.
Pills were taken, calm was restored and once again I thanked my friend fear.
Sorry for doubting the necessity of fear.
My Dear old friend Fear,
Thank you for taking such good care of me all these years. Without you I could never have made it through my early years before the critical thinking portion of my brain was completely developed. You have made me a good driver, a cautious mother and kept me out of dark alleys late at night. Remember those nights long ago when you were solely responsible for keeping the dark thoughts from winning? Truly, without you I would no longer be on this earth and I have nothing but gratitude for your interventions.
But now perhaps it’s time to take a step back from our relationship. You taught me well how to take care of myself and those around me. Now it’s time to set me free, time to permit me to act a bit more rash, you know eat desert first and all that stuff.
There are fewer days ahead of me then behind me, these are the halcyon days of my life. Before you know it I will be too old to run through fields and play in the sand. Perhaps I’ll be too infirm to savor the more physical aspects of life and much as I try not to, there is still worry about that time. That is for another time, later, much later.
So for now I kiss you on both cheeks and bid you adieu,
We practice everything. We practice patience, and soccer, and self control, and every darn thing.
Let’s practice joy, glee, laughing and dancing in the moonlight. It is so easy to get bogged down in the needs and musts of a day until we have a life based of drudgery and deadlines. We can’t wait for joy to happen to us, we need to cultivate it throughout our day.
Even in the midst of a stressful time, even within a crisis there is always something around us that can create joy. It could be the view from a hospital window, a songbird singing during a memorial or a hot cup of coffee after a sleepless night. But we need to train ourselves to seek out and to acknowledge joy when it shows up. Most important, we need to permit ourselves joy. It doesn’t have to be earned, merely savored.
Let’s remember to have fun ….. while eating chocolate and to be joyful
A confession: I am dyslexic, not bad, it does not affect my life in an overly negative manner, but it makes being a calligrapher more challenging.
This quote should have started “Hold fast to dreams”, but my brain said “let’s put the A first. Being one of those people who can finally celebrate their warts and flaws I posted the error on an art board and the most amazing thing happened. Someone on the board commented, “So, make a new quote using the error as your jumping off point”.
Rainbows appeared and butterflies sang!
Never had it occurred to me in all the years of spoiled pieces that I could fix it, change it, make it okay. Suddenly the irritation of my dyslexia was lessened exponentially. Now it is a game to play, one that is down right fun and it takes so much pressure off of me. That one random post on an art board created a space in my studio that is more forgiving and as a result more creative.
A most fortuitous mistake indeed, thank you Kate for the change in trajectory.
Today’s writing 101 challenge asks us to view situation from the perspective of three different people.
This is a small sketch I drew awhile ago. Drawing is a new discipline for me so I am not as adept with pencils as with calligraphy pens.
Considering my level of experience I thought it was an apt representation of my skill set. Decent enough to post on an art board.
My partner is a Forester, he looked at this sketch and said it is a poor representation of the tree you are using as a model. It was his opinion I had not captured the essence of the tree at all.
Members of the art board thought this drawing was well done.
How often does this happen in the rest of our worlds? We will attempt something new, change our style a bit or even try a recipe for dinner and it affects everyone differently. Some may approve, some not and some won’t notice or care. But in the end we need to hear our inner voice more loudly. We need to be confident in ourselves and our abilities despite of thorns and barbs of the outside world. Our own approval needs to be the most important, not the approval of anyone else.
Be your greatest fan and your most reasonable critic
To start with, I spend as little time in airplane terminals as possible! Flying is my least favorite form of travel. Now car trips are another story ….. but that’s for another time.
There are certain things that are with me at all times. A pad, some colored pencils, a very fine line drawing pen and my imagination.
If you cultivate your imagination, if you let it grow and give it the attention it deserves then you are never bored. But your imagination is like any other brain function it needs to be stretched and exercised.
Dream of a new and wonderful experience you could create for yourself
Imagine a more perfect day, trip, world, you
Think about where your future is going to take place and then go out and make that future now.
six hours, no devices, no problem