“The object of art is to give life a shape." - William Shakespeare
I met Diana when I was 6 or 7. She was the older sister of one of my best friends in elementary school. We reconnected last month when I delivered a little wren to her. It was such a gift to sit on her couch, bond with her dog, and talk and reconnect after so many years. It is a gift I have found repeating itself over and over. I like to think of it as one of the powers of art - if we let it happen.
I made the decision in November to start painting smaller and be more visible. I didn't make a decision to build community or reconnect with people but I had forgotten about the magical side of art. And that we all need community.
There is so much confrontation and disconnecting in the world right now. Everywhere. Yet a natural part about being human is connecting.
As an artist you put your heart out there for the world to see. It's vulnerable. Galleries feel safer. You can remain invisible. You bring your paintings in, set them down and leave. You don't interact with the buyer. You don't even know who the buyer is. If you have a good relationship with the gallery owner, your heart glows when you drop your paintings off - and then you run away.
It is a little like being a goldfinch. Flit in. Flit out. Maybe be a little showy and sun shiny in the moment. Then be gone.
Yet goldfinches also seek company. You rarely see a solitary goldfinch. But you often hear about the solitary artist.
I am a bit of a hermit. I rarely paint in groups. Being alone in my head is a big part of my creative process. I need to be able to hear my heart.
Yet I so enjoyed sitting at LouAnn's kitchen table, a friend I hadn't seen in years. Catching up while she purchased a painting for a cousin who just received good medical news was heartwarming. It brought me true joy to re-meet Jann who had taken a workshop from me years ago. And I loved dropping off a painting to a mutual soccer mom. All of these connections are real and matter.
What I have come to realize is we all have a drive for reconnection. In these polarizing times, we are searching for relationships. I believe we need meaning, purpose and connection for a happy life. That is a lesson art continually reteaches me.
My goal with my art is to engage. I want a person to look and think and feel when they see my paintings.
At the same time I have to take a deep breath before interacting in groups or even picking up the phone. My mom tells long stories about pulling me out from between her legs where I would hide as a little kid. My mother-in-law still jokes that I always bring a book to hide behind.
Yet I need people. Art helps me connect. I just have to continually relearn this lesson.
I thank each and every one of you who is part of my community and allows me to be vulnerable. You are so important. I thank the magical side of art for continuing to reteach me these lessons.
As always, you can find my smaller works available for purchase on Daily Paintworks. Once purchased, I will put them in the mail or hand deliver them (and say hello!) depending on where you live. If you are interested in a painting on my website, please email me directly. At this time of year, you can also find my paintings at Lansing Art Gallery, Shiawassee Arts Center and Be.Gallery in Ohio.
From my vulnerable heart to yours,
"Our lives are shaped by our interactions with others.. (E)very interaction makes a difference. The results of our encounters are rarely neutral; they are almost always positive or negative. And although we take these interactions for granted, they accumulate and profoundly affect our lives."
- Tom Rath & Donald Clifton (How Full Is Your Bucket)