I went for a while this summer without painting. I didn’t plan to take a break, and I didn’t worry much about it, even though people were asking for new work.
I keep thinking that I want to try something new. Art is always new, and at the same time, rarely new. We build on the history of human art that has been produced over tens of thousands of years, and each time, we have the opportunity to bring a little of ourselves into it.
I was inspired this summer, by painters with autism. As I’ve said before, art is a language. A visual language. And then I saw a video about a nonverbal teenager who paints with passion, subtlety and nuance. When it comes to intellectual disabilities, mental challenges, or whatever it is that makes you unique, I like to point out that there is nothing wrong with you. We all have challenges! The important thing is to find the gift in it.
We get a lot of messages telling us what we can’t do. In my case, I believed the teachers who had low expectations of me. Without realizing it, I incorporated their narrow mind, misinformation or laziness into my own self image.
It seems harder to believe in your potential rather than your limitations. But there is little that can compare to the joy of embracing your passion. Your talent. Your abilities.
You do have a purpose. You have a unique voice to express your soul whether that voice is verbal or not. You can do something that no other human being can do. You can see the world from your perspective, and you can express that unique perspective. Some of us do it with paint. Some at a piano keyboard. For others, it is the written word. Maybe you possess the gifts of joy and hope shared through an infectious smile.
Let’s not compare ourselves, but complement each other.
I’ve always been envious of musicians. I love music. I long to be able to make people feel the way I feel when I hear a beautiful song. When listening to music, I often say “if I were a musician, this is what I would like to sound like.” This is one of my limitations. Sometimes I listen to music while I paint, and that informs my painting. The sound coming in my ears intertwines with the images in my head and they travel down my arm together and out my fingertips.
Yesterday I was telling an artist friend about my new canvases, and experimenting with impasto. She talked about building up the surface. This was a revelation for me.