Sunday, August 30, 2009

Passionate Repose

One of the first books I read about the steps one needed to take to become a professional artist started out by asking the reader to determine if he/she were passionate enough. It stopped me in my tracks. Passion?


That's a pretty big word, full of sweat and temper and ... stuff.

Since then I've read other books, blogs and journals about the trials and travails of the artist's life. Nearly all of them encourage, warn, advise or admonish the reader to find, dig up or uncover passion. Live on it! Let it drive you! Run headlong into your life! Be intense!

I believe what the world needs more of is calm repose.

I'm just now back from two weeks off. Fourteen days of not working in my studio. And honey, I'm hear to tell you, it's fantastic.

I did not do one extreme, emotional, fiery, thing. Read a couple of books. Pulled weeds, washed windows. Watched Handsome Husband fish. Watched two Fine Young Men get sunburned. Watched movies. Picked tomatoes. Visited family. Allowed three really nice people to buy some of my art. The strongest feeling I drummed up was when I got up in the morning..."Ooh, goodie, coffee!"

I eased through the day. I sat and thought. I practiced tranquility. Every now and then I'd move - not much, but enough that the squirrels didn't try to bury acorns between my toes.

I believe in calm repose. I believe it's necessary. I believe we should do it often and with great regularity, daily even.

If I spent time in a passionate dither, would I have time to look at the cottonwood tree across my alley and study the way the leaves changed color when the breeze ruffles through them? Does passion allow contemplating the color in the shadows as they creep across my yard? How do I sit very still in the early morning and catch the sun's first rays on the very tip-top leaves of my maple tree if I'm all wiggly with aspiring fervor?

Passion's fine for teenagers, but it seems to me that what the grown up art world needs more of is deep breathing of the yoga variety. Slooooow down.

Allow time to let the sun cross over your feet while you sit in the garden. Allow your heart to beat slowly. Allow your muse to come to you slowly, surely and confidently.
Allow yourself time to think, time to ponder, time to enjoy your artistic expression.


michaelbcampbell said...

Brilliant and thoughtful advice. Art never comes to me when I push it. Only when I'm quiet--bored even--or when I'm trying to do something else. :-)

Lynne said...

Perhaps we are a bit stuck on passion as some heroic or intense pubescent thing. For me, passion is essential, but what that means to me is the intent to never quit being an artist, to never give up, to know that I am in the groove, not playing with a bit to the left a bit to the right, but on a path that I am unfolding along with...
My artwork is about calm reflection, but I, myself, am passionate about this!

Patricia said...

Mickey - you? bored??
Lynne - I love your assessment! You're exactly right on all counts.

Sarah said...

Excellent, excellent post, Patty!!! I love what Lynne had to say. Exactly how I feel.
Lately I've been trying to get back into my groove of art. It's slow, but I'll get there!
I hope to reconnect with you soon :)
What does your schedule look like in the next couple of weeks?

Karine said...

Wonderful post! Even your title is great. It does seem like there is a lot of hype about "passion." I second (or third) Lynne. And you. Peacefulness is highly underrated.

Patricia said...

Bizziness is waaaay over rated. Here's to folks like us who enjoy quiet time!

John said...

Calm observation and repose fuel the passion and desire. It seems to me that "passion" for an artist is that thing within that say's "I must paint" even if I have to work 3 jobs in order to do so.

John Kelley

Patricia said...

Intersting how we can't really have one without the other. Passion cannot exist without those quiet moments of refueling. Reflection is useless without action. Thanks to all for your thoughtful input!