“Patience” 8×10, oil on canvas Buy Now

At this rate August is going to last me the whole year.

On day 1 I talked about setting an intention for my studio time. It’s an intention I’ve carried with me for all three days so far: patience.

You know the thing about patience, though? It makes everything take so damn long. I’m not rushing my paintings. You know what else I’m not rushing? These blog posts. My fine-combed reading of Art and Fear. My son getting in the car and putting on his seatbelt. A really nice glass of wine.

The other thing about patience? Practice it in one area of life and it bleeds over into others, makes quiet and polite demands on you.

I’ll be the first to admit my tone doesn’t exactly match the content– of course better parenting and wine savoring are good things– but old habits die hard and the five-minutes-early-is-actually- late in me is resisting patience with all its might.

Today’s painting is another inspired by a beautiful photograph by Chris Short. And just like yesterday, I’ve got it’s larger, more abstracted version in the works. Not that I’m rushing it, though.

I was foremost drawn to the curve of the bird’s back. (It’s a red-breasted Nuthatch by the way). I originally saw this curve as the focus of an abstract painting but wanted to dive into it more representationally first.

Yesterday, I talked about this blog as way for me to invite others into the artmaking process with me. Art and Fear reminds me that artmaking has been around longer than our ideas about it. For all the pros and cons of being able to easily connect with people in 2018, there’s a risk in thinking of our work in overly personal ways. Bayles and Orland assert, “Through most of history the people who made art never thought of themselves as making art. In fact it’s quite presumable that art was being made long before the rise of consciousness, long before the pronoun ‘I’ was ever employed. The painters of caves, quite apart from not thinking themselves as artists, probably never thought of themselves at all.”

Contrast “unsigned tableaus of orthodox religious scenes” of the past to “one-person displays of personal cosmologies” of the present and it’s easy to see why so many artists (myself included) are guilty of overidentifying with their work. It’s dangerous (to say the least) because when we think of our art as representing ourselves we are destroyed when it is not up to par or not warmly received (I’m thinking of 2os me I mentioned in yesterday’s post). There is freedom in a fair amount of detachment from our work. Freedom makes the work more authentic, makes us capable of producing more of it because we are comfortable with and not terrified by the space it will occupy in the world.

Yesterday, I came across a painting at my parent’s house that I had created in 2004, when I had first learned to paint. It made me cringe a little. The colors gaudy, the concept painfully literal. But then I remembered that I would not be doing my fifth? Sixth? 31 in 31 now had I not started there. I took a moment to be grateful for that painting and the young artist who created it.

Which brings me back to patience. It seems to me the little mindful baby steps cover more distance than grand leaps or dashes. August has certainly already felt long and grueling, but it’s also already feeling important.