Raggedy

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European Robin, Watercolor, 6″ x 8″ original, SOLD

Yes, still July. Yes, still hot, busy, stretched a little thin, crowded, sporadically cranky, flung like a rag doll by the wind, trying to keep my yarn hair out of my button eyes and trying to figure out if I can keep up with the tornado pace of 25 paintings a month. If you’re counting, today is the 10th and this is my 5th piece. Maybe July wasn’t the BEST month to kick things off. Or maybe I was foolish to think this would EVER be a good idea. I’m not calling it quits yet – I still think 300 paintings in a year is a worthy goal – I am simply acknowledging the universal truth here: it may or may not happen. I can neither confirm nor deny.

If my decree last month inspired a single soul to create art more often, I do not want to back out on my plan and leave her hanging. If it sparked one person’s interest in the future paintings he may see here or on Daily Paintworks or Facebook, pick your poison, I do not want to disappoint. There was a great article in the New York times Friday about how we live in the golden age of bailing. It’s so easy to back out of commitments with a quick text, or to just ghost until later and then apologize or not, the author made the case that we commonly say yes to things we never think through because there’s an implicit way out if we decide later we can’t make it. How do I remember it was printed Friday? Because Thursday night I postponed a volunteer training I’ve been looking forward to until September. Flaked. Bailed. Maybe I’m just flaking on this painting commitment because it’s July and deep down I think I can get away with backing out.

OR. Maybe I just have legitimate doubts about the raggedy pace of 300. Are 150 pieces I’m proud of better than 300 sewn-together bits of crap? There’s learning to be had in production but is it worth sacrificing quality for quantity? Not that I have done that yet, but today is the 10th and this is my 5th piece, as mentioned above. If there WERE an additional 5 paintings by this point, would they be worth viewing? Would they bring joy or would they bring stress and desperation? Just looking at them might hurt. I don’t know. And if there is writing every time, something to say for every something I have to show, is 300/year remotely possible, who even cares about fun? Or am I flopped down at the crossroad between business and hobby? Work and pleasure? Is it quality or quantity? Production or pride?

Today, this very Monday, someone brown and white with floppy ears who will remain nameless woke me up at 5:00, an obscene near-dark morning hour. There was no going back to sleep, so he crept up and I did some research. What does the IRS have to say about business or hobby? Do I need to register for a tax number? Is my goal the process or the product? A lot of the answers come down to my intentions, which seem difficult for an auditor to prove, especially since I’m not sure I can pinpoint them myself. If the key question is whether I’m trying to make a profit, can I simply point to a blog post about offering people salad greens and art, whichever’s in season? If I go back to that post and think about offering joy and beauty and eyes that twinkle in the light, keeping pace with 300 seems wrong. If I lose my sense of humor and my love of painting just trying to keep to my arbitrary schedule, that seems tragic. If I bail on something I CAN do that will make me and the world a little better, that seems shameful. All of this questioning? Seems honest.

So it’s still July. Early yet. We’ll see. I just wanted to tell you I won’t paint garbage just to make the numbers, so I can’t predict yet how this plan will turn out. I’ll keep at it, but not at the expense of my sanity or paintings I hate or my wiggly brown and white alarm clock. THIS is the business I should register with the IRS – a soft, squirmy, spotted way to wake up that comes with a pink tummy and floppy ears, no obnoxious noises, no bright lights, just all this happy wide-awake love pulling you gently out of sleep towards him. I wouldn’t have to intend to make money; I would be a gazillionaire. I only have the one prototype though, and he’s a mama’s boy, so I’m back to sharing art instead of Rudy. And I’m back to doing the best I can to keep from flying away this windy July. Windblown, not blown away, remember? If I end up with 200 paintings this year, or 299, and still love doing it and want to do more, well then I think we’re in business.

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6 comments

  1. I am definitely with you. It’s a great goal but not at the expense of great painting and writing. Do what feels right to you.

  2. Only barely related to your post: a recent AARP article about how lasting friendships are made, cited a young women attacked swiftly and seriously by a disease and when she felt she was dying, a doctor whispered to her, “Think of something that makes you very happy”. She did and survived, despite losing her legs below the knee. She became an Olympic snowboarder. Clever doctor, good friend.

    So how is this related? When I think of my happy place, it is a sunny field of flowers, no bugs. Now I add to that my puppy Ava, crawling over my head, neck, shoulders, smelling of sweet puppy pee. No bites. Life is brief, cherish the sweetness. Do you honestly think that Monet never bailed, veered off course, changed his mind, had conflicting epiphanies and commitments?

    Stay in your happy place as often as possible. Love ya.

  3. Hi Jen, hope all is well with you. If ‘Raggedy’ is still available I would love to purchase it. Lisa Roberts, Ennis

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