Knowing art and delight
Why do I do what I do? That is the mystery, isn’t it? At least sometimes. However, I’m finding, just beyond midlife, that I usually know my mind and heart, even if my ability to articulate takes a moment to catch up.
Yesterday, I woke up soft and wrapped in warmth from dreams of art and a nice, heavy comforter on a crisp near-winter morning. I was happy and acted in gratitude throughout the day as work-rest balance and possibilities and security enveloped me. I know why I was happy.
The other day, I had to have a cookie after a particularly difficult Zoom meeting. I wasn’t hungry. And the cookie, though probably wonderful three days ago, was a little hard and not great. But I wanted it with a cup of tea because it was sweet, and it washed away the sour feeling I had after the meeting. And all the feelings that came up around the initial sour-taste. I know why I ate the cookie.
Right now, as I write, I feel purposeful. And so I write. I think that’s usually why I write. Occasionally, I write for the opportunity to enjoy language and wordsmithing. Occasionally to paint a picture with words, like I was taught in my English major. But mostly, I write with purpose—to get a job done.
But art. Art.
I make art because I cannot do otherwise. I never have been able to do otherwise. I am compelled. I make art because it delights me. I seek to delight myself and others! Because I find this amazing thing called “delight” in creating something artful amidst the chaos of life—amidst the problems to be solved and situations to be weathered and growth to be engaged.
When I was a child, I delighted in coloring the wonderfully thick center pieces of mat board left over from Dad’s framing his own art. They were the filet mignon of substrates for a child. And I could saturate them with worlds from my imagination—sleepwalking worlds, underwater worlds, untamed worlds. Delight.
When I was a teen, amidst the mundane angst that all teenagers assume in some shape or form, my clothing became my canvas. Old Army fatigue pants, encircled with dragons and leviathans. Delight.
And through college, the military and beyond, I sought delight in the margins of textbooks and sketchbooks, overwriting calculus with anatomical and fanciful drawings. Delight.
When the kids wanted me to paint desserts, I bought thick gel medium and got out the cake decorating bag to accompany my brushes. Delight. For me . . . and them.
And when I saw the possibilities of an Altoids tin . . . . a blank canvas that smelled faintly of curiously strong mints . . . . delight!
I’ve lived with my own thoughts and feelings for 49-11/12 years. Almost half a century, and there aren’t too many new feelings under the sun—or beneath the fog of Pacific Northwest drizzle, as the case may be. And many of my thoughts are recycled as well. Hopefully upcycled and reapplied in new and better ways!
But art. Art.
This is pure delight!