Photo Credit: Jennie Anne Benigas



March 2017

“If you keep working, inspiration comes.” Alexander Calder (1898-1976), by way of Donald M. Murray (1924-2006).




Dear Reader,

Decades ago, Donald M. Murray, my writing teacher, gave me a 2¾ “ by 10½“ laminated card with his mantra emblazoned on the front: “Nulla dies sine linea”- no day without a line. As if that weren’t enough direction, underneath were 3 more commandments: “Write first each day. Complete one writing task every morning. Know tomorrow’s task today.” The card floats on a shelf above my computer screen. Don Murray modeled a heroic work ethic, and I struggle daily to keep up with his advice (Judy’s Journal, 2007, February).

Murray was a collector of words. The back of his card holds a series of quotations about the art of writing. One is at the beginning of this month’s blog. Heinemann published his collection of quotations in 1990: Shoptalk - learning to write with writers. One word describes the overarching theme: WORK. Joyful work. It’s the miracle-free path to creating all art.

Right now, I am between series in my studio. I sensed a quieting of my ink obsession, which ran for six years. I painted other smaller series during that time. But without a new series to turn to, an uncomfortable feeling swirls in my brain. However, I never wait for Inspiration to walk in, because she is not a dependable visitor.

Last month, I used a tried and true coaxing strategy. Since I photograph every piece, I am able to spend some time looking through albums for paintings that seem unresolved. One leapt out: “Mahler Symphony #1” from a ten-painting series (Judy’s Journal, 2013 December). I was never satisfied with it, so I gave up trying and put it in storage.

There were three other Mahler symphony-inspired prints that I put in the pile, slating them for possible revisions. I knew that Symphony #1 would not be a revision – it needed to be painted over with a whole new work. After loading “Mahler-Symphonie No.1” with Leonard Bernstein conducting into my CD player, I listened and worked for the next several days. And worked. And worked.