4×4, oil on canvas (can you help me think of a title?”)

Respect the run, Coach Bennett says. Is it going to be 100 degrees? Run before sun up or after sunset. Is your day crazy? Don’t plan for 20 miles.

Respect the art practice. Am I feeling burned out? Don’t plan something entirely new or large or stressful. Are the kids off of school for a holiday and my spouse not off of work? Practice before they wake up or let them know that from 9 to noon, I cannot be bothered (unless there’s blood and there almost never is). Hire a sitter. Respecting the art practice means planning for it, honoring it, not putting it last and then wondering why it didn’t happen or wasn’t fulfilling. Bennett says when you respect the run you respect the runner. Later, in a different guided run, he expands it to, “Love the run; love the runner.” I think he’s right and the translation holds. Respecting the art practice is a form of respect and love for the artist. It’s amazing to me what happened when I started respecting myself by carving out time for my art, treating it like it was a real thing– important, live-giving, mandatory. 

As we approach halfway, I’m feeling a little burned out. I struggled to carve out the time I needed. Things came up, like they always do. So I worked on the smallest of paintings and continued a series I’ve been working on instead of starting a new one. No palette knives this time. Pure brush. 

Below is the second stanza in a poem by John Ciardi called “Bird Watching” from the Anthology Bright Wings, which combines poems about birds with paintings by David Allen Sibley. It’s a book I turn to time and time again. Especially when burnout visits. 


“I, certainly, do not know all that comes to us

at times.  A bird is a bird as long as it is

there.  Then it is a miracle our crumbs and

sunflower seeds caught and let go.  Is there

a book to look through for the identity

of a miracle?  No bird that is there is

miracle enough.  Every bird that has been is

entirely one.  And if some miracles are rarer

than others, every incredible bird has crumbs

and seeds in common with every other.  Let there

be bread and seed in time: all else will follow.”

%d bloggers like this: