Recently, I was given a wonderful gift by fellow artist. The gift was a book called BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert. I have read her work before and always am invigorated by her reassurance that art is a gift, not an obligation to succeed. But in BIG MAGIC she put a feeling into words for me. It explains why so many of us persist in our creations, whether they are in art or other arenas. "Best of all," she writes, "at the end of your creative adventure, you have a souvenir-something that you made, something to remind you forever of your brief but transformative encounter with inspiration."
I laughed when I read her words because all of my art, writing or painting, has been an attempt to create a souvenir from some journey I have been on. These words also encourage me to create more souvenirs, whether they are from people I have met, places I have been or my own internal travels.
The painting above sat unfinished for a while. It was from a photograph I took when a man came through our town and transformed my way of thinking of how landowners (we have three acres) use their land. In his view it was a waste for people to sit on land and not garden, raise animals, produce food, etc. We were doing all of that, but had never thought of it very deeply. I could write a book about him (actually I did try to do that with a friend). We spent days listening to him as he parked his gypsy wagons with his mules, donkeys, chickens and goats along the roadside and pastures, and shared his philosophy with us and others. I have been getting pictures of our time with him out and studying them during the last year because I am hoping to create another souvenir of our encounter.
Sometimes it is hard to persist on a painting or a project, but thinking of them as souvenirs - a physical memory to put in life's scrapbook is great incentive.
Thank you for the book, Molly.
If you would like to read earlier installments of Painting The Sky, you can find them here.