"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Barn Again for mental health

"Sunset barn," 5 x 7 watercolor greeting card
What to do when you're stuck creatively, when motivation seems drained as these pandemics of viruses, racism and political chaos take their toll on mental health as well?
Listless days without painting, without writing accumulate. After reading about, and viewing others art,   I find one of my few cures is to go back to basics, to having some fun without expectations.
I found motivation in several places these past few days. One was a video by Thomas Schaller, https://www.thomasschaller.com/ the dynamic  watercolorist. I'm buying one of his books, Architect of Light. Another is reading Austin Kleon's austinkleon.com invigorating blog, where he quoted someone's advice to "Do the work in front of you." (I've bought all his challenging books on creativity.)
We ran into Natalie at an Abiquiu ice cream stand in 2016!
Then last night I picked up Natalie Goldberg's https://nataliegoldberg.com/ book Living Color, Painting, Writing and the Bones of Seeing." She's an inventive writer and teacher of writing whose work I used for years in teaching my students at UCO, especially Writing Down the Bones. 
I've had this book for several years but never read it all the way through before, and in desperation I picked it up last night. She paints to invigorate her writing. I told you earlier, I believe certain books choose you when you need them.
When I found this in the book last night, it spoke to me, and of me: 
"I never think of drawing a new building.Only the old, the dilapidated the uncared for and unnoticed draw my attention.... I like to paint what is marginal what will not last."
My late friend Ben Blackstock looked at my art one day and said, "You sure like to paint God-forsaken places don't you?"
Yep, and now that I think about it, no wonder, Natalie is right, and it gets more important as I age. I find aging people and life and nature more interesting. "The more wrinkles, the more stories," I once said about writing  about people.
Same thing. So today, after a large failure yesterday, I went back to a greeting card, another old barn, which I love to paint. As I do greeting cards for people... fun, relatively quick and also antidotes for being uptight.
A barn again for mental health, and for writing, and painting creativity. See? 

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