After I survived my formal education, I went on to many years of art school in the form of a BFA and an MA. What I learned from my art school years, was that ART was a verb, not a NOUN. It is something that runs like a thread through your life – sometimes a tangled mess, sometimes beautifully woven into something that helps you articulate what words could not express.
I have chased life through my art for enough years now to know better than to rush through the time needed to process an idea. In fact, I find myself doing far more processing of late than art. I found this disturbing initially. Ideas and images would come and go as inspiration for a new body of work. An idea would blossom and fade overnight. Even more fleeting was the actual need to physically stand in front of my easel and paint. I found myself going through the motions of creating an entire work in my head. I would visualize standing in front of the completed piece and be quite pleased with the result. All this …in my head. For a while now I have had no inclination to go beyond that satisfaction and have been secretly hiding my ‘painting -in-my-head’ world.
I finally shared my ‘secret’ recently with a close friend who never judges or finds my ramblings in life odd or out of character. Her calm acceptance of my explanation gave me a grateful sense of relief. Then, almost as confirmation, I came across a passage from a marvelous book entitled, Miss O’Keefe, by Christine Taylor Patton and Alvaro Cardona-Hine. The book is a memoir that covers the last years of Georgia O’Keefe’s life through the eyes of her artist/nurse. Here are a few of my favorite passages from this beautiful book.
… When people asked her did she miss painting, she’d tell them, “Well what makes you think that I am not painting anymore?” She told them she painted in her head, that she could still see the colors inside her head.
“… Art has nothing to do with paintbrushes or ink or graphite or any of the materials that are used to create it; those are just used in an attempt to make the transition from the spiritual to the physical and back again. The magic that is sometimes present in what we call art has nothing to do with those materials. It may have to do with passage, with something made visible by one human being to another.
” We do art a great disservice by having to reduce art to a material plane, to painting, drawing, or sculpture “
Art has become that thread , invisible or not, that runs through my life. It is in everything I think and do. It is sometimes tangible and other times, like a song in my head for no one to hear or see save myself. And now that I have stopped judging myself over a certain tangible productivity, I get on with following that thread.