In May, my husband and I made two years of marriage. I was painting at two weddings in New Orleans so we decided to stay there an extra night to celebrate. It was Memorial Day weekend and the crowded streets and busy restaurants proved less than relaxing for my mountain-loving spouse. We navigated our way through pods of twenty-somethings at the rooftop pool of our hotel and talked to each other over competing bluetooth speakers blaring various music we realized we’d never heard before. 

But the title of this post isn’t, “On being 40,” so I’ll get to the point. We were walking to a coffee shop when I passed a sign on the sidewalk that read, “Let it take the time it takes.” I realized immediately that I’d been walking quickly, that I was antsy to get to whatever it was we were going to do that day (we had no plans). I snapped a photo of the sign, took a deep breath, and didn’t worry about passing up the slow walkers in front of me. We’d get there when we got there.

We decided our next anniversary trip would involve some kind of altitude and a city where we don’t already spend a lot of working hours, but  “Let it take the time it takes” worked its way into my brain and has built a little nest there becoming a friendly and consistent mantra. 

I bring it with me to the studio in particular. I want so much to create paintings easily and effortlessly. I want them to be large and impactful, coherent, honest and consistent. I want it not to be hard. 

But some days it just is. I’m stuck, frustrated, tired, or bored. It feels like the work isn’t going anywhere or that I’ve run out of ideas. But then, always, without warning or invocation, the strokes become less strained, the paintings build on one another. One idea finds its way onto yet another canvas and this time, this time, I see it, I feel it, I can’t wait to try it out on the next one. Why these creative bursts require drought and darkness to precede them, I’ll never be sure. But I do know the less-than-glorious moments are just part of the time it always takes.

This past month has had its fair share of interruptions, distractions, unchecked boxes, and inconsistencies. Somewhere in all that, my studio time flourished, the precious boon of showing up, of trying anyway. The gift of letting things take the time they take without fuss or fight.

I have two very large paintings and several smaller pieces I’m eager to share. They will all be on display at Gallery After Hours this Friday, August 12 from 6-8 pm and then available online Saturday, August 13 at 10 am. You can see some details from the new paintings below. 

I hope you’re finding ways to let things take the time they take. I’d love to hear about it.

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Written by Denise Hopkins

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