“One Foot on the Ground” 8×10, oil on canvas Buy Now

This is my current takeaway from Chapter 2 of Art and Fear: Vision is always ahead of execution and execution = loss. The paintings I conceive in my head are glorious, magical, moving, earth-shaking. No wonder I used to leave them right there in my mind, where their splendid and infinite potential could not be unraveled by the act of applying paint to canvas. In that moment, infinite possibilities become one, sometimes sobering, reality. According to Bayles and Orland, “The development of an imagined piece into an actual piece is a progression of decreasing possibilities, as each step in execution reduces future options by converting one– and only one– possibility into a reality… That moment of completion is also, inevitably, a moment of loss– the loss of all the other forms the imagined piece might have taken.” I’ll admit loss is painful. But it’s also transformative.

I am convinced that art (in all its many forms– writing, dancing, music, acting, and so on) can make us better humans. Animals have no egos. They seem to be rooted in reality and in the present moment. We don’t ever walk in on our dog sketching the neighbor’s dog because she has no need to be anchored back into the world, she’s already there. (I’m sure opposable thumbs would also be useful).

But us? We can live in our heads where illusions of grandeur or fears of failure can sabotage our every move.

Art teaches us that we are both powerful and weak. Creative and limited. Art brings us out of our heads into the world. It is a practice of acceptance. If vision is always beyond the grasp of execution, we can never be done. And even though it’s only day 5, and I’m already a little worn out, I don’t really want to be done. Not ever.

My intention for today’s painting was to focus on blurring the edges. I wrote the word “blur” on a sticky note and put it on my easel. I love paintings where the image seems to float in and out of focus, but I usually struggle to swipe away at something I so carefully formed. Setting the intention helped a little, but not enough. I still held back on my blurring more than my vision did. Lucky for me, I can do it all again tomorrow.