Day 4. In this together

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“Time to Linger” 12×12, oil on canvas

Still working in pairs and loving what has transpired. I like flipping the image on the second canvas and working the composition from the other direction. I used two more wooden  stretcher keys in this one– still not sure if such a collage element is silly or brilliant, or, as things usually are, somewhere in between. Into the background I’ve scribbled some lines from a Mary Oliver poem which I’ll share at the end of this post.  

I sometimes use this running app where a coach guides you on a certain type of run. She tells you what effort to give and for how long but mostly she just tells you how great you are and encourages you. One of the frequent themes that carries over from the different runs is that when you’re running, even if you are doing so alone, you are not actually doing so alone– there’s this whole worldwide community of runners, of all different levels, out there running too. It’s a beautiful thought, and I’ve started to think about those runners on occasion– both rooting for them and tapping into their strength when I don’t feel like continuing. 

Today I woke up thinking about that whole community of artists and doers out there. The ones in our beloved 31 group whose work daily inspires me, but also the artist across the world who got up early to paint today, the artist who was about to throw away her supplies, but decided to give them one last go instead. I’m thinking about the beginner and his frustrations, the expert and her pressures. 

At the onset of covid, there were a lot of “in this together” signs which at first I appreciated and then I realized were a nice sentiment but not actually true. My circumstances were vastly different and removed from people feeling the deadly weight of a disease that was just at my periphery. 

But this? This making and doing and seeing and noticing and practicing? I think this we are all in together. And on this particularly cold morning when I am worried and anxious because I have finished one pair of paintings and not sure what comes next; when 31 feels like one million; when Monday feels like the very bottom of a vast mountain I must climb; on this morning I am extra grateful, extra aware of being “in this together.” 

“Invitation” by Mary Oliver

Oh do you have time

to linger

for just a little while

out of your busy

 

and very important day

for the goldfinches

that have gathered

in a field of thistles

 

for a musical battle,

to see who can sing

the highest note,

or the lowest,

 

or the most expressive of mirth,

or the most tender?

Their strong, blunt beaks

drink the air

 

as they strive

melodiously

not for your sake

and not for mine

 

and not for the sake of winning

but for sheer delight and gratitude –

believe us, they say,

it is a serious thing

 

just to be alive

on this fresh morning

in the broken world.

I beg of you,

 

do not walk by

without pausing

to attend to this

rather ridiculous performance.

 

It could mean something.

It could mean everything.

It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:

You must change your life.

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Picture of Denise Hopkins

Denise Hopkins

January 4, 2021

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