My sister recently gave me this lovely red glass cruet, reminiscent of the fancy antique red glassware my grandmother had owned. I have sweet memories of looking through the red glass at a world transformed. I briefly glanced at a book of Janet Fish paintings, an expert glassware painter -- her reflections are almost psychedelic-- and then dove in to paint this. I'm pretty happy with the colors and the way I was able to capture all the nuances. I feel I was seeing deeply and maybe communing with my grandmother.
I want to talk about the art-making process, as it's a tricky business. I know a lot of artists, and they don't always talk about what a struggle it can be to create. I feel like I have a "good eye" -- I see beauty everywhere and feel deeply about what I see constantly --but I seem to have been "blessed" with a variety of inner critics and inner obstacle-makers. I have had to work these through while teaching myself to paint, draw and photograph. I've heard it takes ten years or 10,000 hours (ten something) to really master a technique. I am putting in the miles and hours, but I'm not always as consistent as I would like to be. What else gets in the way?
I was an art history major, a double-edged sword. The good side is that I got exposed to the most incredible art in the world, and got to learn history through pictures. The downside is that my own meager efforts at art-making can pale in comparison. Comparison is one those "deadly sins" which only leads to depression and paralysis.
How do I learn to love what I'm making? It has taken me years to learn to simply encourage my Little Art Parts. Just tell them how wonderful they are, and what an amazing thing that they showed up today in the studio. To me, they are like sweet, vulnerable, innocent children, who just need to be allowed to play and to be themselves. They also need help staying with something that is hard, and to not insult the work even though they might be feeling frustrated.
Now before I leave my studio after every art-making session, I state at least three positive things I did. I may also bring in a piece of paper for writing down the negative things my inner critics are saying, just to externalize and defuse them.
I may not ever be one of those lucky artists who can just sit down, paint, enjoy every moment in their studio and pour out phenomenal work. Or maybe these people don't exist. In any case, I'm grateful that I can see what I see, feel what I feel, and have found the time and space to respond to the world through creating more beauty or meaning.
Thank you Sister and Grandma for reminding me of the beauty of seeing, and may I always remember the magical world as it appeared through the red glass.