Lots of socks and Leonardo
It has been pretty cold for San Francisco, which means instead of working barefoot, I have been wearing three pairs of socks. Also usually something like a shirt, two sweaters, jeans, and huge overalls over the whole ensemble with a scarf on top. Sometimes a knit hat.
My appearance at the door made my mailman laugh, so I guess I am spreading some joy this holiday season!
Speaking of joy, the paintings are all moving along ahead of schedule so I threw ten smallish panels into the mix today, gessoing them up to paint on next week. They will be my “fun” pieces for when I feel stuck on the others. Which means – does this ever happen to you? – that soon enough I will like them enough that they will become serious pieces, serious enough that I have to find my “fun” elsewhere.
Besides making other people laugh and turning fun into work, I was inspired this week by finding an old studio journal of mine that had a collection of quotes on the inside cover. One of them was that at the end of Leonardo Da Vinci’s journals he had written “Tell me if anything at all was done” over and over. Supposedly he always felt like a failure.
Did you know he was the illegitimate son of a peasant girl? His father chose to marry into a wealthy family instead of marrying Leonardo’s mother, but this eventually benefitted the young Leonardo, at least professionally, as he got some great apprenticeships out of his father’s new connections.
I don’t know if his parentage had anything to do with his ideas of success – apparently illegitimacy didn’t carry much stigma at the time – but I do know that the quote reminded me how we (or at least I) have to consciously work to find those moments, and to make those moments, in which this, this work, this life, is enough. There could always be more, that is just how we are, but really, this is enough.
On that topic, I will leave you with one last quote from a great female painter, Paula Modersohn-Becker:
To struggle for strength. It sounds so dramatic. One does as best one can, and then one goes to bed. And that’s how suddenly one day it becomes evident one has achieved something.