Today’s rain has left the sweet smell of summer in the air and my mind once again turns to the promise of long lazy days ready to fill however I see fit. My calendar is nearly empty and my ideas are many. Mmmm, delicious.
For many artists, season is a rapid juggling act of shows and festivals, press-releases and newsletters, business, business, business, with precious little time for the creative process. But summer, summer I could paint with one slow continuous brush stroke. I love summer.
For the past few summers, as the barometer begins to drop, I have wrestled with the desire to branch out, change directions, take some risks, move my creative impulses off the canvas and into a third dimension. I have three or four half-finished projects to prove it – but I ended up shelving them out of regard for my business as a painter; my inventory of paintings is low (what a sweet problem!) and clients and dealers will expect a solid showing of new work come November – and I sure don’t want to disappoint them. But still I yearn to tap into the new, the bold, the great What Else Is Inside Me.
Last week, before the first rain fell, I checked into my favorite blog, Robert & Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letter (find it at www.painterskeys.com) and lo and behold, Sara was addressing this very dilemma of mine. “Even though we arise every morning a new person,” she wrote, “ready to explore new possibilities, we are victimized by some image or notion of ourselves we must continue to uphold…Are we secure beings of creative process, or are we stuck in a style which meets with our commercial acceptance or public persona?”
Oh yes, Sara, speak to me! She went on to advocate for the camp of Pablo Picasso, saying: “Get known for changing directions, having periods, dispensing surprises. It’s honest, of course, but it’s also natural and empowering. If you’re in the game for a lifetime of growth and success, train your dealers to expect it from you. Your collectors will follow.”
That may be as close as I will ever get to reading music. It certainly made my heart sing.
And as if her encouragement wasn’t enough, later that night I accidentally (coincidently?) caught part of a TV special my husband, George, was watching on multi-disciplined athlete Bo Jackson. Evidently Bo took serious heat from football fans for playing baseball, and from baseball fans for playing football; but he was so good, so purely good, that heat swiftly chilled.
Here’s what Bo had to say on the subject of diversifying: “I have no reason to believe I’m not who I am…I have been given great gifts; these arms, these legs, this eye-hand coordination. I should do something with all these gifts.”
George pointed out that Bo Jackson was injured while still in his twenties and could never play professional ball again. So, what George took away from Bo Jackson was “You should do what you can do while can do it – because some day you may not be able.“
How about that? Bo really does know, and so does Sara, and so does George, and now so do I. I can’t promise you something extraordinary for next season, but I can sure promise I’m going to reach for it.
Tara O’Neill, a lifelong, award-winning, artist has been an area resident since 1967. She holds degrees in Fine Arts and English from the University of South Florida and is currently represented by Blue Mangrove Gallery on Marco Island. Visit her at www.taraogallery.com.