It was a gray day here the other day with flurries of snow, bone cold, and forecasts of a big storm on its way. On this cold day in winter, a small group of artists came together to draw.
These are local artists who try to gather once a week for life drawing and in the winter, up here in the mountains, it can be iffy. Would the model be able to make it from Taos? Were there enough people to cover her cost? But they gathered and they invited me.
Lately I’ve been seriously pondering the question: To paint or not to paint. What’s the point, really? After all I’m turning 65 this year. Maybe I should just retire. I’d never thought of retiring before. I always thought that, like Picasso said, death would simply interrupt my work. Painters don’t retire, right? We paint on. But that’s what’s been on my mind.
And then came this day when I was one of the people who got together to draw. Just to draw. Not to sell, not to impress, not to compete, but to sharpen our sight, to practice how to see, to have that chance to capture one particular line just exactly so, whether that “so” means to sketch it, paint it, simplify it, abstract it…
And my heart silently shifted back. Back to one who wants to believe again—even if that belief is somewhat fragile—in the making of marks on paper or canvas, just to be making marks. Much like Mary Oliver’s goldfinches who, “… strive/melodiously/not for your sake/and not for mine/and not for the sake of winning/but for sheer delight and gratitude…”
We can talk about art sales being off since the recession hit and that gallery representation in Santa Fe is hard to come by, but here in the mountains of northern New Mexico, within this small cluster of artists who came together to draw, art is still vibrant and very much alive, for its own sake and nothing more. And that really is what it’s all about, isn’t it?
Love to you all,