I am back to regular blogs after an extensive series of traveling adventures and Deep Dives into creative pursuits; I have learned so much and cannot wait to share it all with you!
I’m writing this before dawn in Taos, New Mexico. Soon, the sun will rise over the mountains and will give a golden glow to everything in the desert.
The luminous quality to certain times of the day, seasons, and places around the globe always wakens me, lifts my gaze, focuses my attention, and gives my chest and stomach a good stir.
When I began appreciating art, it was the way certain artists would capture and present light that stopped me in my tracks and held me in a spell.
I wanted to learn how to be a purveyor of light, and I chose to learn from Gwen Fox, one of the masters in Taos—a woman who paints the most stunning abstracts I’ve ever seen.
To illustrate just how little I knew when the class began, when we were asked to gesso our canvases, I looked at the array of supplies on my table and wondered aloud softly, “Hmmmm… so what is gesso?”
Another student happened to be walking by, and she looked at me and we both howled laughing at my rookie status. She wasn’t being unkind—she was most likely relieved someone knew less than she.
I learned a day later that she is an accomplished artist.
My classmates are all artists. Some come from watercolor backgrounds. Others are classically trained. Each of us, though, are new to the world of abstract painting.
I have been stuck by our struggle of starting over—of not knowing. Not being comfortable. Leaving expert status and marching into the unknown. Embracing the frustration of seeing something you want to do, but not having the skill yet to do it.
It is a solo walk into the dark.
There’s all kinds of mind crack going on. Your inner critic has poured a martini and is perched on the edge of your workspace like a judgmental gargoyle.
You get it wrong. Your work is cluttered, stiff, clumsy, and reflective of your mindset. You want to run away.
But then there is a moment when you turn a bit of a corner. Something clicks into place. You loosen up. Synapses fire and wire together.
You have learned something new by doing the messy work imperfectly.
That feeling is nothing short of euphoric. The gargoyle loses his balance and does a back flip off your table. You know he’ll be back, but you delight in his absence no matter how brief.
I know I am chasing light in more ways than one. I get to stand with my face turned to golden moments simply because I am willing to look ridiculous, to be wrong, and to feel that shitty feeling of being incompetent.
The best light is always on the other side of the dark.