Tag: artist

Painting, Like Most Things, Is Great For Second Chances

I’m a writer, mostly. But, I grew up with a pen in my hand, crayons in my mouth, markers holding up my pony tail. I grew up, curious, touching cheap canvas, smelling paints as my dad set out his oils, desperately trying to get pictures from my brain into reality. I draw, I paint, and I love to leave the mark of my mind on things that will outlast it.

I was painting yesterday, and this wonderful thing happened where, in the silent of the house, fingers gripped to brush, swirling colors together like an art-alchemist, my mind hit the smooth pavement of its thoughts and cruised. It felt dangerously free. It felt inclined to remind me of everything I wasn’t really wanting to think on at the moment. But, at times, it simply was. I simply was, and my fingers did the talking.

It’s great to paint with cheap acrylics because there’s almost no such thing as a permanent mistake. I drew a quick sketch with an art pen, mixed my colors and slathered on the first layer. The freedom that comes with that sloppy strokes, covering ground recklessly, is knowing that the first stroke is nothing but foundation, nothing but a primer to cling to the better stuff to come.

As I progressed, I adjusted. I saw that things weren’t quite right, and I went darker, deeper, thinner, fatter, clearer, more detailed. Sometimes my shaking fingers didn’t quite get the curve right, didn’t quite capture the precision I was going for, so I let it dry and tried again.

With painting, there’s no pressure. You experiment until it feels right. I wonder why it’s so much harder to accept this in other disciplines and in life in general. With writing, we think it must be perfect on the first draft. I’m a bad writer if I make that mistake, if I can’t quite portray what I mean to.

But writing, like painting, is made for second chances, second drafts, and second opinions. It’s made for fresh eyes and readjusting.

Don’t let the mistakes get the best of you. Just adjust and try again.

Paris Climate Agreement and a Scared Artist

Barren world

Where once-mighty beasts,

Predator and prey

Served their cyclic nature,

Their instinct

As true to Her beauty as the rain

And Her colored sunshine–


Barren world

Full of legends

Spoken in too-silent night

Where even the breeze knows better

Than to land on human faces–

These legends

Are too magnificent

To be believed:

Cats bigger than men,

Fish smarter than children…


Barren world,

I dig in your soul

For a place to bury my heart,

For as you thirst,

So my throat croaks for relief;

As you die,

So I die, also.

I hear you, aching world,

But they have taken too much.


The Paris Climate Agreement is a collective effort for advancement. What might seem a hindrance to industry to some can only create opportunity and the drive to improve industry in the face of need: need for a robust economy, need for a healthy Earth.

The news that Mr. Trump is planning to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement has trickled down the news outlets of the internet and to my unbelieving eyes, and today I ponder what could possibly be wrong or threatening about teaming up with world leaders to protect our people and our planet from poisons that we set loose into the air we breathe.

I remember in Middle School getting into an argument with one of the smartest kids in my class over whether Climate Change was real or not. I remember bringing a long, print out page of web links to him and shoving it in his face as “proof” that he was wrong–Climate change is real. Climate change is a concern. (Though, back then, it was still called Global Warming.) It’s strange for me to look back on that because, these days, people try to separate climate concerns by political affiliation. I grew up in a Conservative/Libertarian type household (though I can say I’ve long drifted away from that sort of affiliation) and I was only a child when I took so strongly to the idea that we were harming our beautiful planet.

These facts aren’t refutable anymore. If you don’t believe in pollution, climate change, poisoned waters and slowly-going-extinct animals in our most beautiful ecosystems, then you’re the crock! It takes a willfulness beyond my comprehension to deny the piles of evidence and studies done over this. I think that willfulness is the key here, because, in point of fact, I don’t believe Mr. Trump disbelieves Climate Change, I think he is stubbornly refusing to acknowledge it in order to further his goals.

I understand that jobs are important; in fact, they are essential! I also understand that there might be setbacks in the short term in trying to create a more efficient way of doing things! Isn’t that like the sixth law of Physics? (Joke.) However, our most incredible advancements as a human race come out of need. If we get comfortable, and if we think that there’s no need to improve, and we deny that there IS need to improve, then our machinery gets old, our methods get stale, we stagnate and fall behind the rest of the world in technology.

Advancement is important. It’s absolutely necessary. Though I fear for all the practical reasons that we will fall behind, I fear most of all that we are irreversibly aging and destroying our planet by this obstinance, this refusal to advance our methods into clean energy. What a magnificent place we’ve been given to live on, cultivate and care for, photograph, paint, write of, read about…The Earth is a living, changing entity, and we must slow the rate of her decay which we have only worsened by our smoke pillars and automobiles.

I won’t be daft enough to say that Climate Change is all man-made. I think that we can’t expect anything to last on into eternity, and at some point our ancient Earth will die. Our sun cannot continue being at the perfect conditions for life forever. In case you, dear reader, were unaware, our Earth is an incredible statistical impossibility. Our sun, a yellow sun at the perfect temperature, and at the perfect distance from our planet, does not cook us or let us freeze. Our rotation, the distance from our moon, the pull of the tides, the change of the seasons; they are all orchestrations of majesty to facilitate life. As far as we know, we are the only ones to have benefited from some an impossible set up. So, yes. The world will die some day. That’s undeniable. However, our planet is as stubborn as we are to give up Her existence. She still feeds us, waters us, houses us, and she astounds us.

I’m scared of losing Her. I consider Her a friend, an inspiration, a satellite of Divinity. We can’t afford to waste any more time.

Experience and the Sponge

Sometimes, when the thick gray air of winter sits on brick towns with painted windows, when old courthouses with cylinder blocks for foundation and the smell of restaurant food and newly paved roads tickles my nose and forces me to imagine worlds into existence, I think:

How wonderful it is to be an artist.

Small things…

-the way the leaves twirl around moving cars in wind shapes like the faery world’s gentle collision with reality

-the way the clouds project the moon from out of the black carpet behind it, concealing, revealing, concealing, so dark they look like midnight dragons on a run through the heavens

-the way caterpillars float, transcendent, I imagine, ecstatic through the air on their silky strings, totally carried by their ingenious invention…and their weightlessness

They make me proud to be an artist. It is these things which fill me up like a thirsty sponge, squeezed dry from the harshness of the atmosphere, from the constricting agenda of hate, smothering, smothering. I eagerly fill myself up on this holy water of this world’s majesty. I drink and drink until I am contentedly wet, ready to purge these beauties out onto other things that are dry.

Yet, sometimes, as I am a sponge, and I absorb, I find that even the filthy water gets in, and I’m already too soaking wet with filthy water to take on anything else.

Yesterday, I printed pictures of a dead woman. Her car was like a flash-frozen, half-melted conglomerate of metal with blood spatter on the ceiling. Children’s toys stretched out over the car, through the air, nestling near the railroad tracks and lying down to rest in the dead, winter grass, broken, wet with mud, dislodged.

I printed pictures of little girls and boys, of big girls and boys, of mothers, of fathers, of friends. Little girl in a blue dress with frills down the front, clippies in her hair as numerous as the twirling braids which stuck off her head like antenna.

I ached. I ached. I ached.

Drunk driver. Too fast. Satin coffin. Orphan family. Orphan friends.

I ached, and I ached.

I found that when I tried to draw breath, my chest was shallow. There was no more room in the cavity which held my non-compliant lungs. I found tears with no logical explanation breaking through my resisting eyes, I felt that the toxic water was so deep in my tissue that I was about to rip myself open to get it all out. I wanted to scream, to scream so loud that it would all come spraying out of me and I would be dry again.

Unfortunately the toxic water didn’t come out. It did, some, purify for a brief moment in the company of friends and laughing and story-telling, but when more toxic water lay itself down on top, urging itself into my widened pores, settling in with the rest, I decided to shut off the tap completely. Nothing will try to fill me up again. Not today and not for now.

So today I am empty. I covered my face with pure bath water so hot it scalded the infection off. I watched videos of things which normally fill me up with healthy water from the world, hoping it could sit on the surface and not move in just yet. I need to be empty for now.

Just let me be empty for now.