Day 19. Out of Place

 

Egret in the ditch–

Beside the save-a-center

Sorry for your loss

Mary Oliver has this poem I adore about egrets. The speaker labors to get to a little pond where she sees three of them take off into a “shower of white fire.” I see egrets, one in particular, on the side of the highway I drive every Monday and Wednesday when I take my son to karate. And every time I see him, I think, you belong somewhere else. When I see you, I’m the one who should feel out of place. Egrets have always held a certain magic for me, and when I see this one, it’s like seeing Starry Night at a garage sale. 

I’ve been working on a poem about that little guy. Can’t say it’s finished, but it’ll have to do. It’s a start.

Egrets

In Mary Oliver’s poems

egrets are lights in dark but beautiful places 

With great effort you get to behold them

 

I see them in ditches that 

Separate highway from stripmall

 

Hunting (which is waiting)

patiently in shallow water

SUVs a blur of loud non-color

Suddenly stop beside them

Waiting, too,

But only for the light to change

 

What world did you come from?

What world have you outlasted?

Where the poet is out of place

Watching with the bruised and scratched limbs

That brought her to your 

 

Vast expanse of lake or swamp or pond

She, not pausing in traffic

But in awe. 

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Day 18. Tripleheader

okay just to sit

listen to the fickle rain

Coffee number two

 

This weekend in particular, I’m feeling my bee-ness in full force. I painted at a wedding last night– something a little different– the ceremony and not the reception. I think you can see my fondness for the outdoors in the painting. Tonight I pack my gear and head out again to another wedding. And there’s still more. Sunday night will be my third and final wedding painting of the weekend. Three in a row. If I’m honest, the wedding paintings take a lot out of me. They are a joy but require a fullness (of attention, focus, energy) that can be draining. 

My son is spending the weekend with family. He couldn’t believe his good luck in getting to see his cousins twice in one week. Cousins are his favorite. I’m spending my morning in a too-quiet house trying to shush my too-busy mind. Okay just to sit

I’ll look forward to posting the two other wedding paintings from the weekend. Until then, I hope you enjoy this little bee. I think she’s resting.

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Day 17. Deeply in like

With your facebook post–

I’ve fallen deeply in like 

Will the folks approve? 

I’m developing (or perhaps just realizing there is one) a complicated relationship with social media. On the one hand, it’s the most powerful tool I have to get my work out there. I’m not the brick-and-mortar type of artist. I like being in charge of my business and my connections with people. I like keeping the money I make. I can’t imagine this business the old-school gallery way. I don’t know that I could make it work. 

On the other hand, sometimes I find myself picking up my phone one too many times to see how many little blue thumbs or red hearts a painting got, and, if it’s not so many, I think, hmm what went wrong? Is the painting bad? Did I post at the wrong time? Has the algorithm changed again? It’s a rabbit hole. Likes and hearts and comments are an indicator, but not the only, and definitely not always the best one, of how well I’m doing, what is resonating with people.

And then there’s the other stuff too. Witty one-liners. Meme culture. Debates with a screen between us. Reducing complex ideas to an incomplete sentence and an out-of-context image. Waiting for someone to approve of us. Wondering if we will offend. Trying to offend. It’s all part of a tool that gives us so much opportunity. I love it and hate it. 

Just over halfway through this 31 days, and I’m leaning into the work itself, trying not to be too concerned with how well it is received on social media. It ain’t easy, I’ll tell ya that. 

If I’ve learned anything over the years it’s this: the work was never about one post or one painting, one thought, one idea, one caption. It was always about an effort, a devotion, a practice. A series of small, simple tasks coming together to create a body of work that moves and shifts and grows and even regresses. It was never about what other people thought or wanted and yet it was always about connecting with other people. 

I adore “likes”. To borrow from my haiku that began this post, I have fallen deeply in like with them. So if you’ve given them, thank you. I just hope I could do the work without them. 

Today’s painting is a little sunflower I was inspired to paint after I watched a time lapse video of another artist creating a floral painting on instagram. I really liked it. Go figure.

***Just a reminder that all the paintings this month will be available on my site the first week of February. If you want first access, make sure you’re on my mailing list.

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Day 16. Blessed are the bees

My church is called the

Blessed heart of busy bees

“Be still” but I can’t 

 

I wonder– do they–

Bellies to fill, hives to help–

Stop and smell the bloom?

 

In the spirit of my haikus, I wrote TWO of them this morning, thank you very much. I wonder when I started glorifying “busy,” when I started worshipping at its alter. 

My friend invited me to get a facial with her last week, and even though I enjoyed it, even though I have to admit my skin is looking pretty fabulous even days later, when I was in that dimly lit room– you know with the good smells and the spa music and the head massages? I was having a really hard time just, well, lying there not doing anything. I found myself fantasizing about my watch– which I’d had to take off for the hand massage (who knew a facial included this!?) 

Even now I’m thinking, alright, gotta wrap up this blog post so we can move on to other things. I painted this 6x6 today to help me re-think busy — to think of it not as some great badge of honor, some idol below which I bow down. 

I’m going to have lunch with a friend later today. I plan to linger.

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Day 15. Stay the course

Three careful ice cubes

I’ve watered it with patience

Faith in what’s not seen 

 

Every January, the 31 in 31 leaves me with a few surprises. I didn’t set out to write about houseplants at all, much less multiple times. But I’ve got some great news to report, and I’ve noticed I get a little mid-life-crisisy around the middle of these challenges. Anyone else? I figure a little optimism is in order. 

I’ve overanalyzed over watering some of my plants. But all the while, for a year + now, I’ve been giving my two orchid plants with long-gone blooms three ice cubes every Monday. Most Mondays. Like I said, I’m not the best plant mom. I hate to admit it, but prior to this, I’d just throw out the orchids once they lost their blooms. These, I was determined to watch for at least another round. I had heard, though not witnessed, that they do in fact come back. I’m sitting at my kitchen table at the moment looking at several rows of buds, all lined up on the branch like school children ready to walk to their next activity (so not perfectly straight, a little chaotic, delightful!). 

I stayed the course. I watered them for over a year even when there were zero signs of them ever blooming again. I feel so gratified at the moment that I thought it only appropriate to paint a floral this morning. It’s 14x14 inches and fits right in with a floral series I started in December– there are still three left (shameless plug).

 

In my mind, the little orchid buds are going to bloom right as this month comes to an end– nature giving me a round of applause for having stayed the course with painting, too. I’ll probably have a lot to say about it. 

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Day 14. Birds of the air

What if birds worry–

Gathering seeds into barns

Chic as pinterest

I have a long list of worries and they range in severity from about threat level “will the avocados be ripe enough?” all the way up to “is another world war imminent and will any of us survive?” 

I know worry is not productive– it doesn’t help or change anything. It doesn’t add a single cubit to our stature. I know all about the birds of the air and the lilies of the fields. And, yet still..

Maybe I paint so many birds as a way to tap the breaks on worry. I just can’t seem to do both at the same time. 

I hope you enjoy today’s little cardinal. She’s thinking about how to organize her seeds by color in the new she-shed she just built.

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