Photo Credit: Jennie Anne Benigas



September 2017

“Work lovingly done is the secret of all order and happiness.” Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1840-1917) from The Quotable Artist, Peggy Hadden.


“Painting. That must be so relaxing.”

Dear Reader,

Today’s blog signals another anniversary because in September 2004, my first entry arrived in the blogosphere. That was back when typing the word “blogosphere” would have set off my spell checker, but today it doesn’t. Progress.

Writing a monthly blog has allowed me the privilege of reflecting on art and poetry and to report how such a commitment plays out in daily life. This month’s title came from a curious nurse who wondered what I did when I wasn’t lying in a hospital bed.

“I write and paint.” Usually, people ask “What do you write?” and when I say “Poetry” the conversation flags, then dies. Instead, the nurse said, “Painting. That must be so relaxing.” My answer was, “Not as much as you’d think.”

After she left, I tried to understand our conversation. Was she imagining a white-haired old lady, straw hat perched on her head, standing at her easel in a field of flowers, paintbrush in hand, a smile playing on her lips? If so, that would be fine. Except it wouldn’t be me out there, communing with nature.

I’d be in my studio, sweating it out, trying to make something out of a nothingness that marks each new beginning. I understand that I will need to work through the mess of uncertainty in search of a resolved painting. I take the risk of accepting failure and learning from it. But, the audible click of joy when “I got it!” happens is all the nourishment necessary to bring me into the studio.

Painting is work and takes an immense amount of energy. Not having that energy threatens my existence and makes me ask, “What if my most recent painting was my last?” While I believe there is no end to inspiration, I know that physical strength is necessary to survive interruptions in production.

I opened this blog with a quotation from Renoir, who was afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis. He had his paintbrushes strapped to his hands and painted until the day he died. It’s time for me to cut the boo-hooing and get back to work.