The Artful Dodger


There is no place like home. My home at this moment is no place to work on art projects right now. It is the art project.  The yellow bathroom is still yellow. I’ve got the paint for it and hope I can start the transformation tomorrow. The person I would hire to do the job – and he is such an expert he would be finished in an hour or so – is taking some time off because his father just passed away. So I keep thinking I will just open the can of paint and begin.

The most daunting part of any project is the beginning. The act of opening up the can of paint, ripping open the box of window blinds, or taking the electric saw out of the shed feels like slogging through deep mud. Suddenly all the other undone or unfinished projects silently scream for attention. I still haven’t finished mending the shelf in the kitchen. I haven’t painted over the daubs of putty I put on the siding months ago. I haven’t replaced the cracked board on the deck.

At the same time I think of other projects waiting for me. My art projects. They are in careful packets or thick files, or even stacked in my art room under the boxed ceiling fan. I continue to take photos of careful compositions that would translate into artwork eventually. My files have become volumes on the computer’s photo organizer.

Art is not difficult for me. It excites me. Sometimes there is nothing I would rather do in the world than draw or paint a picture. Some pictures take many hours, some don’t take long at all. I do not stop until I know that it is done. I can’t explain how I know a picture is done. I just know when it is. Sometimes I have to do pictures over and over again because they aren’t what I saw in the beginning, in my mind. Art is visual for me and so the picture comes to mind and then I create it. Although my art is often very tactile, even using my hands to push the paint around on the canvas, I use many techniques and resources to produce the picture that I visualized.

At this moment in time my artful pursuits have taken on a larger canvas – the house(s). I’ve reached back in time on the arts and crafts home to try to visualize what the house looked like in 1910. My smaller canvasses sit quietly on their easel. It isn’t that I couldn’t reach the paint wherever it is. I could do it. It wouldn’t be that difficult. But the larger project has taken me out for a while. I feel guilty though. I feel as if I’m betraying my little pastels and colored pencils.

I wonder if I’m delaying the great projects for the good ones. I read a book long ago about the “urgent” and the “important”. There is a fine distinction because in the midst of busy-ness making a clear decision between what is truly important within all the terribly urgent – makes all the difference.

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