The Times When We Simply Proceed

A spring cold gathered momentum on Thursday morning requiring medication to keep my fever in check. There were studio guests arriving on the island and a painting class to teach. Both pleasant activities though I was functioning far below optimum. However, I simply proceeded.

Only while doing a quick painting sketch at the edge of the pond in the Japanese Garden did I forget how miserable I was feeling.

This was likely because I did not need to talk and I was warm in the afternoon sun.

Last evening I was reminded of this moment while reading about the chemical attack in Syria. I asked myself, when do we break and crumble under the weight of adversity? When is it that we can no long simply proceed, as if it was only a common spring cold?

Earlier in the day I had read Dina Nayeri’s powerful article “The Ungrateful Refugee: ‘We have no dept to repay’” which was the long read in The Guardian on Tuesday April 4, 2016. I will share with you just her closing paragraph….

“Still, I want to show those kids whose very limbs apologise for the space they occupy, and my own daughter, who has yet to feel any shame or remorse, that a grateful face isn’t the one they should assume at times like these. Instead they should tune their voices and polish their stories, because the world is duller without them – even more so if they arrived as refugees. Because a person’s life is never a bad investment, and so there are no creditors at the door, no debt to repay. Now there’s just the rest of life, the stories left to create, all the messy, greedy, ordinary days that are theirs to squander.”

After dinner, I was reading an opinion piece in the New York Times by Ariel Dorfman bring “A Message From the end of the World” in Santiago Chile. In his climate change impact summary of events on the southern tip of the Americas, he tell us about the widening of the gap in the Antarctica ice shelf and how it will eventually crash into the sea causing a rise in seawater. Chile is the first place that will be impacted.

I leave the table with plans to come write today’s blog post. But I don’t. Instead I simple proceed to clean up the kitchen and stay with these feelings of overwhelming disgust, horror, helplessness and a kind of deep hopelessness. It is too late for a long walk which is my usual line of first defense when the world falls short of my expectations. Instead, I just sit with the feelings, unable to write until this morning.

I should be celebrating with you this week. Two paintings have left the studio for homes of their own and the small postcard size painting sketch that was sent to England for the TwitterArtExhibit sold on opening night. Over $10,000 in U.S. dollars were raised for a local charity, Molly Olly’s Wishes, in the first night. Instead, this morning these bright spots in an artist’s life seem garish, insensitive and above all, unimportant. What to do?

My answer comes easily. I shall post this note and go for a long walk and listen to the spring birds. I shall breathe in time with waves on the sea. I shall inhale the scent of the blossoms on the breeze. I shall run my hands along the length of the arbutus tree. Then I shall paint. This is what a landscape painter does. After this is done, then I shall see if there is anything else I can do. In times like these, first we must simply proceed until we decide what else can be done.

When was the last time you asked yourself to simply proceed?

 

© 2017 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com

 

Today is a Wash Right up to its Painted Edges

Oh no! Is that the weight of the other being moving to the edge of bed? Fog-filled blinking tells me it is so – and is it daylight? How did that happen? My day is a wash right up to its painted edges. I am done for! Grasping for my glasses on the windowsill, I leap, hobble and half-run and then stumble past the surprised being still sitting slumped on his side of our shared nightly nest.

“Hey!” He bellows. “I was up first.” But I am already up the four steps and rounding the last corner of the curved hallway to the second most important room in our dwelling.

“No matter” I silently grumble and push the lock into place on the bathroom door. Mine first.

Returning to the kitchen the mighty he is thinking about putting the water on for coffee. I swoop in grabbing the kettle just as his fingers are about to curl around the handle. I don’t look his way. In fact, I pretend that he has vanished into the mist. Filling the kettle I slide or possibly slam it back onto the stove.

I lament “I hate it when you get up at the same time as me. It ruins my whole day!”

To his credit, this other being knows when to retreat. He also knows when not to take things too personally. He grins and goes to his study until I give the “all clear” call. My coffee is in the thermos and I am existing past the counter. It is not really okay to brush my shoulder on your way by yet but I won’t bite as you pass.

We both know it is not his fault that I have slept until the leisurely hour of 9:00 am. We both know that it was not his idea to book a solo exhibit, design a catalog to go with it and plan a three-week trip to California and returning only two weeks before the show opens. Nope. This ill-conceived planning debacle belongs to me – the artist who has no problem imagining what is possible beyond our wildest dreams.  So help me, do my rational, conservative, though underdeveloped, personality traits have no spine at all? Don’t they know we are in this together? If one part of us is set adrift – well there goes the rest of us – castaway with the next high tide and headed for The Great Pacific Trash Vortex. And the Creative Potager blog post isn’t even written!!!! It all sucks! The whole thing sucks! For tree frogs and garden worms I have no idea how to float this boat back to my west coast shore!

Okay-okay, let’s calm down and do it by the trusted “to do list” review. It isn’t really completely a loss – yet! The twenty-two paintings for the exhibit are all done. There are only two more to set up to paint their edges like the three that I just finished.

Today is a wash right up to its painted edges - artist's lament by Terrill Welch 2015_02_10 011

If we don’t think about the fact that these last two will require an extension in the to the kitchen table and leave us eating off the coffee table, it isn’t really all that bad. The postcard announcements are printed.

West Coast Landscape as Home

The venue menu at Camassia Cafe for opening night April 4th is set. The posters and local ads have been contracted out and are on schedule. The catalog is 80% complete – even though we all know that the last 20% takes 80% of the time.

If only he had slept in later than me! If only I had those three extra hours I usual have in the morning. If only I had a separate much larger studio space so there was room for my assistant to work and me at the same time. If only my mother was a fairy godmother and I had inherited her wand. Sigh.

Welcome to my artist’s morning. Now back to work….

What is your first strategy to escape bobbing in the water of unreasonable blame when panic sets in?

 

© 2015 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com