The Petite Painting Project travelled last week. For seven days I was out of my usual creative space with two small children in tow. It was almost next to impossible, but I did it. The posting slowed, but I kept coming back to the paper each day and here’s what I learned. If I don’t do this in the morning hours, the work suffers. I loose my enthusiasm, energy and desire to be creative as the day wears on. Morning has always been a time of inspiration for me. I remember waking up as a child giddy with excitement about the acres of time that lay before me with endless possibilities of how to spend it.
At the SCBWI conference this summer, Tony DiTerlizzi spoke about reaching back into our past to unearth what inspired us when we were children. What made 10 year old Alice get up early to play? What charged child Alice into creative action? In order to go forward, I have to go backward – back to the child self and rediscover that which makes me truly uniquely me. As my skills develop and my ability allows me to achieve success, I also become detached from that child who is the key to making it all work in the first place. Skill can be developed to near perfection, but if the youthful magic is lost, then what good is all the training?
So for me, P3 must happen in the morning, when I am excited about the possibilities. One of my favorite books is Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. It’s a tiny thin book packed with lessons and observations about how art gets made. In one passage, the authors discuss how painting a picture is an act of diminishing possibilities. A blank canvas holds the most opportunity. Anything can happen, and the moment that the first stroke is made, then thousands of options immediately are wiped out. Each successive stroke therefore eliminates possibility until the end, where the final stroke can exist in no other realm except within that painting. I suppose that is why joy cometh in the morning, why babies hold our dreams, and why wonder lies at the beginning of an uncertain journey.
Last weekend, my grandmother was finally put to rest. The curtain was closed on her life and we all gathered and dwelled for a few days in the twilight of living things. Her home still holds picture frames and ticking clocks, china plates carefully selected, toys for grandchildren and great-grandchildren, her perfume, her pillow. I dream she is at the beginning of a new an uncertain journey where possibilities are endless.