I began work early this morning, and focused on the violin in my painting. Loading on ribbons of paint, I admired how the colors were all intensified in the wood, bringing singing yellows and dark wine reds to the body of the violin. As the lights became a bit lighter, the darks a bit darker, I saw the flow of light broken, as the bridge half way across cast its dark shadow over the waist of the violin.
But as the day wore on, accompanying my brush strokes were thoughts that always come round this time of year, the thoughts of the upcoming Washington Square Show. After all of this work, will this painting sell? Will somebody walk up to my booth, and be unable to go home without this painting? Will this painting pay my property taxes? What if nobody buys it- ever? Of course, these thoughts are necessary, for an artist with a family. But, if left unchecked, these thoughts can multiply like gremlins, and take over my day. Worry chokes out the air needed for the seed of creativity to breathe and grow. Most every artist has faced this two sided coin of reality, that of the act of creation, and the sale of the act of creation- from John Keats, to Bill Watterson, to John Singer Sargent, to a garrulous brush wielder from Islip with an alarmingly expanding litter of children.
Obviously, worry is not confined to artists alone. Everyone succumbs to the wearying pattern of worry. A farmer, in his field on a beautiful spring morning, must have the fall harvest already in mind. Which is why I love this poem, from the rolling farmland of New England.
A Prayer in Spring
Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid-air stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.
And, the violin glowed, by the end of today.