Last Saturday, I shovelled my way to my art studio and cranked up the thermostat from 10 degrees Celsius to about 17. Next, I carried a two-gallon pail of warm water to use in two different plastic containers: the first to be filled with clear, clean water for moistening tools of the artist’s trade, and the second that soon turned murky as I cleaned brushes, sponges, palette knives, and more.
Then I spent some time clearing up some clutter on my drafting table and assembling within reach an assortment of Golden and Schmincke acrylic paints. I was wearing what I call my ?farm clothes??those already-stained, ill-fitting, ratty-looking jeans and tops that I wouldn’t be caught dead in otherwise. I donned a pair of hair colouring kit gloves to protect my gel nails and skin. Because, you see, at least in my case, the creative process is a decidedly messy process. The old green rug on this former portable classroom floor is beyond redemption, and I like it like that.
I really hadn’t been back to the studio to paint since my shoulder surgery in November 2006. Recovery took a full year, and by then other things seemed more important than painting. The last thing I painted about a year ago was a canvas for Hilary’s condo. So why now?
When Greg and Carrie got married eight years ago, I painted a two-by-six-foot canvas for their new house. While they were still happy with it, I felt my skill level and taste had evolved and I wanted to redo it. So many months ago, I rather unceremoniously removed it from their living room wall and took it home. With their plans to host Christmas, I now had a deadline.
My intention was to re-gesso it to restore it to literal blank canvas status. Which means that if I ever become famous after I’m dead and scholars and art historians pore over my works, a gifted restorer could in fact uncover the original painting. Books would be written, documentaries made . . . or maybe not.
At any rate, I re-gessoed to cover the original painting and set to work on creating something different. And it felt good. Good to be back playing with colours. Good to lose track of time. Good to see if I could take it from the ?Oh God, this looks like crap? state to something I’d be proud to hang on my own wall. And while I’m pleased with the result and hope they will be too, It’s really not wise painting (or doing anything else) only once every year or so. One gets rusty. One makes mistakes and ends up reworking the project. One loses confidence.
So if you have some creative endeavour That’s been mothballed because of time, health, or changing priorities, I humbly suggest you rediscover what drew you to it in the first place. Get back to your writing, needlepoint, painting, sculpture, dance, or whatever, and enjoy. I know it will lift the daily drudgery and rejuvenate your spirit, from where I sit.