on extraordinary days, the painting is easy.
i crank the music and finger paint and it feels like floating. effortless. on extraordinary days, i forget to eat, ignore the iThings that are usually within arms reach and the next time i glance at the clock a whole school day has passed and i’m running late to pick the girls up.
two days ago, there was such a day. i finished two paintings. i wanted to pull them to my chest and twirl around the room with them because finally i was an artist and everything i painted from now on would be easy and beautiful and would swallow whole days.
but then yesterday, i forgot to breathe. i laboured for hours on a seemingly simple piece whose background i’d completed days before. all i had to do was paint the character and its story.
i put down a layer. then another to cover the first. a third to cover the second. all the while, inhaling and not exhaling. no music played and i didn’t forget to eat. and i cried out, “why is this not working?”
every distraction was a welcome one. i replied to every text, drank so much tea i couldn’t bear the thought of another cup, and despaired. i was sure that if i stumbled across the perfect quote (i googled for hours) it would all come together.
i limped up to and over the finish line eventually, before i remembered this wasn’t a race. and i’m so underwhelmed by what i produced, i could tuck the piece away and never look at it again.
but the lesson is there among the layers.
creating something from nothing isn’t just for extraordinary days of music and blissful floating between pieces (how romantic that sounds!) dabbing paint here and there. it’s also for the days of struggle, of forgetting to breathe and feeling like a talentless hack who simply got lucky the day before.
it’s for the days of rest, of leaving a painting unfinished and to sketch for the joy of it instead.
or not sketching, but sitting, refilling and believing in the extraordinary days to come.