Friday, October 15, 2010

Weekly Reflection (week 39): I am an artist

So I had this very deep, philosophical blog post mapped out in my head ... how perhaps artists today are the Shamans of our society ... revealing the vastness of human experience which many may feel uncomfortable examining ... hence the tendency to lump Creatives with the mad, the unstable, the eccentric ...

I think there is some meat there but when I got up this morning I knew I couldn't stay indoors on the computer and that the best course of action would be an outing to the public garden. And then I stumbled upon this quote and my decision was made:

"Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you truly love." - Rumi

It helped that my "assignment" for the Tribe this week in Fearless Painting was to go outdoors and paint. So I loaded up my backpack with painting supplies, grabbed a camera bag for the polaroid and my trusty canon (I think I need to name my camera ... Lorenzo ... because I swear it does whisper to me in Italian whenever I use it) and packed a lunch of pb&j, apple and energy bar (I know, chocolate would have been more appropriate.) I hit the road, U2 blasting from the stereo and a cool Autumn breeze kissing my face. It was a perfect day.

The public gardens here are amazing. Tucked away on the edge of town right near the river are 100 acres with 20 different garden spaces. I have a favorite spot by the marsh pond that is very secluded with benches under a wooden shelter. I spread out my stuff and began painting the scene before me: a pond filled with lily pads, gold fish, frogs and autumn grasses. The only sounds were a blue jay, the plop of frogs off of their pads and into the water, and a very chatty squirrel. Heaven.

And then they came: wave upon wave of school kids on a field trip. I would guess they were in first or second grade. And as they made their way to my sanctuary, I groaned a little inside. But then the most amazing thing happened: seeing me working, a couple of the boys exclaimed "Wow! Cool ... you are painting." Rather than cover up my work, I explained I was painting the pond and let them take a look at my painting. Staring at the page, one boy eagerly asked "Are you an artist?"

I paused before answering. I was aware of my knee jerk reaction to say "no, no ... just playing" but I that impulse pass. Proudly and a little bit surprised, I replied "Yes ... yes I am." And then ... better than the richest piece of chocolate, better than an A+ on any report card ... this one boy told me "You are are a really good artist!" I think I would have cried except I was too busy staring at the joyful expressions on their faces, as if they had stumbled across an astronaut checking out his rocket. I mean, these kids seem amazed and impressed to stumble across An Artist and who was I to deny them that joy?

Perhaps they knew what we adults have forgotten: that making art is a portal into a vast realm of imagination and adventure; that picking up a brush and some color is a way to uncover the deeper pools of truth that lie within; and that art encompasses all of life - the messy, the organized, the painful, the joyful, the comprehensible and the confused. Making art is a way to invoke magic in the pursuit of healing. The practice connects us to our power, our voice and our ability to create meaning out of that which on the surface often appears meaningless. It is an attribute of being human but one which we far too often deny ourselves. Why? Maybe because of its potency, I'm not quite sure.

I took time to point out the many frogs sunning themselves on the lily pads and watched the kids faces beam when they finally saw the vast busyness of the pond underneath the stillness of the scene. As they left, a few commented on how cool it would be to paint and I yelled to them "Just do it! There is no right or wrong way to do art! Whatever you want, that is perfect." I have no idea what their teacher thought. I only hope that perhaps one child when home, picked up a crayon or some paints and began to explore the possibility that they too might be an artist.

So today, if you were to answer to the pull of what you truly love, where would you go? What would you do? Or more importantly: why aren't you already doing it?


  1. I love this story especially the interaction with the kids, they really do know what is all about.... Beautiful drawings too..

  2. this is brilliant. i'm evidently hormonal because i have this big lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. lol

    giving huge thanks to the universe, once again, for letting me stumble across just the right thing at the exactly right time....

    and thanks to you as well...for sharing your journey.

    awesome story.



  3. Beautiful!!

    I am pondering your questions...

  4. Oh! I LOVE this post!! You ARE a really good artist, my dear:) What a beautiful day. Yesterday I answered the pull of what I truly love at my wonderful volunteer job at our local street newspaper, serving the local homeless community. Such a good thing when we listen to the pull of our hearts:)

  5. I too LOVE this post! You are so freakin' awesome! In so many fan-freakin-tastic ways! Rumi seems to be everywhere these days, but I hadn't seen that quote before. Gorgeous. True. Pithy. Your art is great and those photos are to die for.
    xxoo Suzy

  6. this is exactly what i was pondering, writing about, breathing in last weekend.

    so lovely ~

  7. What I love about this inspirational post is the way that even through your words I could see the glow, the light within you as you told those children that you were an artist. As I look at your work, I find myself falling in love with your colors and fluid lines. If I can see the magic as an adult, I can't even imagine the wonder they felt as they watched you and spoke with you. You definitely inspired more than one young artist, my guess is that your bravery and belief in you and your talent created new artists. How magical! As for your questions, thank you for making me ponder my life today :)

  8. What a sweet story! Out of the mouths of babes came your validation--but you know you are a talented artist! Lovely artwork!

  9. I have what I call a "barometer of divinity" - whenever I hear or read or see something that gives me goose bumps, I know it's a sign that I've connected with something greater. The image of those children learning about art from you in the most gentle way and imagining them excitedly telling their parents about the "real artist" they met in the part... well, it gave my GOOSEBUMPS goosebumps! Thanks for sharing Lis - I need constant reminders of what it truly means to live a creative life!!

  10. For some reason I never got an email that you posted comments to me! I'm so sorry! It sounds like we have so much in common! This was an especially touching post from you!

  11. Thank you so much for this post. I found your blog through the Squam database, and this post is exactly what I needed.

  12. I love this post and getting a glimpse into your day. You ARE an artist and I am so happy to hear you tooting your horn.

    Big love squammie sis,

  13. This was indeed a soul searching and brilliant post! I adore, first of all your writing easy, free, honest, and down to earth!
    Secondly..I too have had experiences like this one...even in coffee is really a great reminder to ourselves when a young, fresh, impressionable eye takes hold of our work and notices our talent and reminds us, even if only in a subtle way that we are unique...that we have a talent to capture and interpret the world around us....well, it's bliss, that's what!

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.....yes, you are an artist...and I am too..and we should embrace that wonderful fact....and stay creative!

    Ciao bella!

    again....brilliant, brilliant post.....


  14. Now that is fearless painting (and living)! Love this post! And I especially dig the first painting :)

  15. Love this post, Lis! It's amazing how the universe often finds a way to remind us of the bigger truths in the seemingly small, simple events. You ARE an artist!