Sunday, August 31, 2014

At Your Leisure

The Clearing by Jim Carpenter, Watercolor, 15” x 22” 
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Tomorrow I will join in Leslie Saeta’s 30 Day Challenge – a painting and a blog post a day for 30 days. Artists from all over the world are signing up to take on the challenge. My theme this year is “On Being Idle: Getting Back To The Garden.”

“Do this, do that, do this, do that, and then do this. Ok?”

When I retired from teaching, I envisioned myself leading a life of leisure.  I imagined reading a lot of novels, going to the beach and the pool, and maybe hanging out with artists and doing some painting. Now, painting is a huge part of my life and it seems at times to have taken on the characteristics of a relentless demanding job, with tons of issues and a boss who can be a bit of a tyrant.

Ha! I know. As my sister-in-law laughingly reminded me yesterday over a leisurely  breakfast at the cafe, “But Jimmy, you are doing this to yourself!” I know! I am the boss of me.  If I don’t have time to finish the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Goldfinch, it is no one’s fault but my own. If I don’t make time to go to the pool on a beautiful hot day, it’s my own fault. If I can’t stand up to the boss, then who can?

Creativity coach Mark McGuinness astutely recommended that I take a look at Tom Hodgkinson’s How To Be Idle. It is a wonderfully intelligent and wonderfully subversive work on “work.” I plan to use Hodgkinson’s book, at least for starters, as a guide for my blog posts to help me reflect on what it is like to paint and what my motivation for painting really is.  Since reflection leads to new understanding and new knowledge, I expect that I will learn something in the process of painting and writing. And since my blog posts are most often reflections they fit perfectly into the realm of leisure – we must have leisure time in order to reflect.

Is it not possible that my paintings are reflections? I think so. Perhaps I have just laid the path for getting back to the garden.

Notes on the painting: “The Clearing” is one of my earlier works. I entered it in a show in Live Oak, FL a number of years ago and after the show I was offered the chance to put it in a nice gallery/gift shop in a nearby town. I failed to keep an eye on it and discovered that the painting had disappeared and the owner of the shop had no recollection of it. Years later the painting was uncovered and returned to me. I chose it for this blog post because were it not for leisure it would not exist. It had been a particularly wet spring, and we knew that the wildflowers were in bloom. So two artists and I piled into a car on Mother’s Day and drove off into the countryside looking for fields to paint. 

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  1. Totally think getting to the garden would be good for you, Jim! I'm a hobbyist gardener, and the main reason I want a house of my own (instead of renting) is so that I can have a garden or two, and an orchid garden for sure.

    Love your colorful style!

  2. Hi Lucy! We've had such a hot and humid summer that I haven't done much in the garden this year. I can imagine that you would have a beautiful orchid garden, and that the orchids would make excellent models in your paintings!

    1. I'm painting some orchids. But I really prefer to have them grow in a more natural way, too, on tree trucks, instead of pots. For that, I need my own house with garden!

    2. I look forward to seeing your orchid paintings. I love your sunflowers. Some other artist I like also did some sunflower painting... can you guess who? ;-)

  3. Beautiful. I love the story of it being returned. Such light.. and the shadows to the left.... make me want to wander....

    1. Sheila! Thank you for that! There's a thought! I guess the invitation to take a stroll in the painting supports my theme of leisure. I wish I had thought of that when I wrote the post! :-)