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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