Vulnerability and Art

Despite my best efforts, I have never been one to form positive, lasting habits; like creating a routine for cleaning, exercising, writing, meditating, and especially for painting. I would love to be an artist who can make time to paint regularly despite all of the hustle of working full time and maintaining a social life. But alas, I am not that artist. I engage with art in Fits and Starts, Feasts and Famines.  

             After finishing a large body of work on display for the months of April and May at Carol’s Hungry Mind Café in Middlebury, I was creatively exhausted. Now, one month later almost to the day I am back in the saddle. In a lifetime, one month off is minuscule, and yet in those first moments of settling back into my creative space I doubt myself.  Will my fingers remember how to move the brush? Will my eyes remember how to mix the colors? What if I have forgotten how to see what is really there?

            Making art in short, intense bouts allows me to experience the vulnerability of not knowing what to expect from myself. In these past few months I have realized that the more I hide from my vulnerabilities and fears the weaker my spirit becomes. Closing the soul to fear and change is like putting an impermeable cover over a seedling; although it is delicate, without being exposed to the harshness of wind, cold and downpour it can't grow, become strong or experience the radiance of the sunlight on a summer day.

              Next month I am driving across the country to a new job with the U.S. Geological Survey in the King’s Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. There I will be taking scientific backpacking trips to evaluate the damage that White Pine Blister Rust, a fungus, has inflicted on the sugar pines of the Sierras. Instead of fearing what will come of my art as I explore the scientist inside of me, in meditating on discontinuity and vulnerability, fear and doubt have transformed into joy and anticipation. 

             Ultimately, what is more exciting than possibility? Choosing to dive partially blindfolded into life through first kisses, blank canvases, and new jobs offers us the bittersweet experience of the unknown.  After seeing the deserts and canyons of the American west, will my mind have new colors to mix? Will my hands know new ways to move the brush? Will seeing what is there have new meaning? I don’t know. But I will be sure to share the adventures ahead!

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