Step Back

I have a front row seat for watching my life unfold! I can’t see what is coming next. Although there are clues, I am often surprised.  What I thought was a failure or disaster turns out to be a much better option. Something that seems insignificant turns out to have been a seed. It comes back later bearing the fruit of opportunity. The nearly forgotten thing can change the course of my life, or at least my perception of my life. 

Has the painting of my life already been completed?  Am I standing in the middle of a finished painting, only seeing the brushstrokes that are nearby?  If so, I can relax. That large black form isn’t scary. It is part of the composition. It means I can boldly follow the colors of my life. If I find myself in a shadow, I am safe. What I took for black may actually contain hues that give it richness.

If I come to the edge of the composition, I will finally be able to step back and see the whole work of art. 

Timid Cat

Slowly, the motivation to paint returns. The ability was always there. I could pick up a brush and make a mark.  When I was in survival mode, other things took my attention away from creating.

I’ve been giving myself time. Time to heal. Time to rest. Time to feel comfortable.  As thoughts about painting came more frequently, I respected them as I would a timid cat or a frightened dog. I cleared a studio space. I brought my easel in from the garage. I unpacked my paints. I didn’t want to scare it away or get bit. 

Among my art supplies was a new, large canvas. I unwrapped it and returned to a familiar theme in my comfort zone.  I painted a scene of the Gunflint Pines. I’ve been poking at it with a paintbrush from time to time over the last week or so. 

Today I started an abstract.  This is my third painting since moving into this house.

Paintings are unpredictable, like the days of my life. I don’t know how they will turn out. Paintings and days are journeys full of brushstrokes and footsteps. I walk down a familiar path, and then take a turn to see something new.

I remember how to walk and how to paint. 


My brother found this while cleaning out my dad’s shed yesterday. It’s a calligraphy brush that I had when I was in art school forty years ago. I’ve been surprised by many of the artifacts that have been uncovered in the last couple of years.

I had to edit it, because in those days we used our social security number as our student ID


Today I worked on a painting. It felt so good, so comfortable, to play with shapes and colors again.  This is my home, but it is a new home.  When stood before my easel with a paintbrush in my hand, I thought how much this place reminds me of my old house. For decades, I had painted in my basement. I had LED work lights, but I still painted in the basement. Today I painted in the bright sunlight.  I guess it’s my stuff that makes this feel so familiar.  My furniture, my art box full of brushes, my books and cats all fit perfectly here.  I just had to figure out how the pieces went together.  The last month and a half have felt like a vacation. Now the newness is a fresh routine, and I can get back to being me again.