Posts Tagged ‘Creativity Versus Covid’

What Now? Just Keep On Keepin’ On

Seven months with three cats, two dogs and a husband, and no place to go, gives you some time to think. That’s one of the luxuries of the coronavirus threat. The first thing that occurs to you is how superfluous a large part of your life has been. You begin to think about what’s important, what keeps you afloat, what’s worthy of  your time, and what will keep your spirits up during this atypical experience.

The first thing I did was to sit down. I found myself stuck between confused and despondent. I just wanted to stay sitting down. I picked up a book and started reading. I started with Tolstoy. After 20 pages of War and Peace I couldn’t believe I hadn’t discovered him sooner. A couple of hundred pages later I realized that he had not only  introduced me to Napoleon, he had lifted me out of the doldrums. I was back. So much to do. So many more books to read, and so much more.

My first new project was sourdough bread. It took me about a month of experimenting to get it under control. But it was never tiresome. It was full of suspense, fascination and the joy of seeing the bubbles come to the top of the brew. Then the bread. After a few inevitable failures I started making proper bread. Then superior bread. And there was a delightful side benefit: sourdough pancakes. Every morning. With different homemade jams. Can life get any richer?

I soon found that I had more time for the house and–gasp–my studio, which is on the hillside just below our house. I made some watercolor sketches around the garden–which always reminds me of Monet, doing some of his most wonderful paintings of the pond in his garden. I began to see things clearly again. Was it Tolstoy or Monet helping me? Or both? In the evenings around sunset Mike and I like to sit overlooking the valley and watch the wild ducks flying upriver to the reservoir where they spend their nights. Occasionally we have a bonus and see a big heron (garza real) flapping sedately by. Yesterday evening we saw a peregrine falcon sail-hunting high over our valley. That is an indelible experience, a true luxury that doesn’t require a limousine or precious jewels. It’s free.

Click to enlarge

Reading, Cooking, Nature, A Sense of Humor

Click to enlarge

Sketching Is Less Like Work

I don’t know about you, but for me the sketchbook is where most of the magic happens. It’s freer, more spontaneous, less ponderous that putting paint on canvas or etching a plate. It’s actually fun and if you mess it up it doesn’t matter. By the way, the day you least expect it you can turn some of those sketches into paintings.

My latest creation is a little herb garden in that flat pot that had the pansies in it (see photos). It’s only been going for about three weeks and already we’re harvesting minute amounts of fresh coriander (chopped and sprinkled on top of Mike’s chili con carne) and basil (place the delicate little leaves on top of any pasta dish). It makes for a better life. With a few packets of seeds you can make three or four herb gardens to give to your favorite people. I also enjoy seeing the fulfillment Mike gets from working on his blog, Trump and All the Rest. He takes it seriously and has posted 175 essays over the past three years. He says he’s doing his part to help set the United States on the right track.

María José, my old friend (more like a daughter actually) and assistant in the studio, arrived back from her family summer on the beach a few days ago and we sat down in the studio and plotted together. She’s been prodding me for years to do a particular project and we’ve finally decided to get started on it. (Was that due to Tolstoy, Zola or Mark Twain? I’m not sure, but I’m eternally grateful to all of them.) Now I’m also feeling the need to start some big work. Painting with big brushes on big canvases is exciting, especially when you’ve got those sketches as roadmaps.

What Does the Future Hold?

The future holds what it’s always held: work, play, progress, surprises, setbacks, joy, sadness, disappointment and lots more. But the most important thing, whatever lands on your plate, is what the Spanish call “ilusión.” That’s not illusion in the sense of trickery, magic or mystery. It’s more about joyous anticipation. Here comes the future! Bring it on! So, what do you do? You do what you have always done. Trust your serendipity and be creative.


Thanks for commenting, following and sharing.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: