Doing what comes naturally

Our days, Jerry’s and mine, pass peacefully. His energy level is reduced, hopefully temporarily, and he is reluctant to start new projects. Some of the outdoor work – a new fence around the front yard and the moss taken off the roof – I have farmed out. We want to start some interior renovations soon, when he is feeling a little better. Next Monday, we hope, his heart irregularity will be fixed.

Now that the election is over I am less obsessed with the news, and I am focused on my painting and writing the blog. I write in the new addition to the house, which is part bedroom, part TV room, part sitting room, part library. It is warm and cheerfully untidy. The painting happens in my studio, which can be cold, and is depressingly untidy, especially with the addition of large props for the island school play that I was cajoled into painting.

My new friend, Rae Ellen, ( The Plain Vanilla Villa ) that I met in my painting class, writes as well as paints. Writing has been her main craft, while painting is newer for her. For me it is the other way around. I have always painted, or drawn, or “made things.” Writing came later, and I always find it harder.  I feel much less competent to evaluate what I write than what I paint.

In my last art class I painted a good picture. It is good enough that I am not sure I want to sell it. The next week I took an art workshop and painted a truly ugly picture. I had no difficulty recognizing that. I may be able to fix it, but if I can’t I will know it. I mix colors instinctively (because of practice). I paint in a sort of other consciousness, often unaware of time passing. I am in the picture, living in the space I created. 

I like to write, but I find the process tough going. It requires intense forced concentration, while painting just flows – that is when it is going well.

When I paint a good picture, or make a good etching it looks effortless. When Rae Ellen writes it reads as if she just dashed it off in a buoyant rush. In both cases I bet that impression of spontaneity is not the way it happened. I do think that a lot of practice establishes automatic pathways.


Here’s the good picture I painted. I won’t show the ugly one.

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2 Responses to Doing what comes naturally

  1. I am honored that you included me in a blog post. And I’d have to say, you paint well AND write well. I love reading your blog. Truly excellent writing.

    Yes, the painting is a struggle for me, like learning to walk or speak French or play the ukulele. When we can, I’d sure like to paint with you. I won’t bug you with questions about what to do next; I just think it would be fun. Back to my memoir writing.


  2. zuleme says:

    That is a good painting. I liked your story over at Time Goes By.

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