Doing What Works

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Doing What Works

 “When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.”

Mary Oliver, “When Death Comes,” New and Selected Poems

I realized again why I don’t like sketching or painting live on scene. When I’m amidst beauty, I can’t draw or paint it. I feel totally overwhelmed, any skill I have rendered useless. I admire other artists who can work on-scene, but that capacity did not come standard on my operating equipment.

I tried yesterday, sitting on a smooth rock in the middle of the rushing Pigeon River. A man was fly fishing upstream, and children were swimming and squealing in the far distance. Late afternoon light was filtering through the trees, dappling the clear water and river-bottom stones. I attempted to sketch, but I couldn’t communicate even the smallest bit of that beauty to the page.  So I put away my journal and just sat, and watched, and eventually walked a ways.

When I got back to the cabin, though, I wanted to sketch. Then, making art felt as natural as emptying my pockets of acorns, seeds, and river rocks. Self-permission to discover and do what works for me is the best kind of freedom.

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