“Not the End” 6×6, oil on canvas Buy Now

I upped my preparatory work on day 4, something that is a New Year’s resolution of sorts. So I wanted to put the work to good use and create a second painting based on the same image.

It’s amazing what new things you discover when you look at an image for long enough. For example, what I thought was among the lightest value– my whitest white along the left side of the swans neck, is actually more of a medium value when compared to the swan’s top body feathers.

I remember doing one of these challenges long ago and a wise friend suggested I paint the same image for thirty days straight, which I think I could actually enjoy but won’t torture you all with.

Last weekend I painted at a wedding in Tyler, Texas, a six hour drive from Covington. It gave me a lot of alone time with my precious podcasts. I listened to a particularly interesting interview with Harvard-trained researcher (he literally studies happiness!) and bestselling author Shawn Achor who described his battle with depression. He said he wished someone could have told him and he could have heard that “this is not the end of the story.” One of the more hellish tortures of depression is the part of it that prevents you from seeing past it, the part that shrinks this great big world into one numbing experience.

I read one version of the ugly duckling to my five-year-old recently. Despite the fact that I get so angry with the ducks for ostracizing the baby swan because he looked different than them, there’s a part of that story, and most stories, I imagine where the protagonist on page 3 can’t begin to imagine there’s still a protagonist a few pages down the line that may have changed. 

All of the problematic ostracizing based on feather color and texture aside, (I’ll admit I want the story to end with the ducks accepting the “ugly duckling” in her pre-swan version) when the swan finally finds her tribe, she utters a sort of relatable “at last” as the jerky ducks look on with wonder. When she was sad and alone? It just wasn’t the end of the story.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m so excited to have found a little tribe this 31 days. I wake up each day excited to see not only what everyone has created but their thoughts about it. Unlike the swans, it isn’t just our majestic good looks that has brought us together but our willingness to be vulnerable– through both ugly duckling and swan days. And if you’re not there yet, if you’re worried or afraid or deeply sad, please remember that right now, this moment, is a part of the story, and most certainly not it’s ending.