Painting is a journey of self-discovery for me.
As usual, my painting is a way of exploring what lurks inside my psyche, bypassing the thinking, rational mind. “Taking It Slowly,” my latest painting, didn’t reveal its message to me until I’d completed the finishing touches and stood back, relaxing and taking a deep breath.
As I wrote in a post about my last painting, “Fluidity,” painting ideas somehow just attach themselves to me. They go into some kind of internal queue where they wait and ferment until they ask to be expressed. I’ve learned to not ask questions but to just start painting. “Taking It Slowly” has been percolating for over two years. Two weeks ago it began pouring out of me. As it did, first I paused to give myself permission to “let whatever happens, happen.” That’s a roundabout what of saying, “You have nothing to lose.” That relaxes my spirit and I can paint from expansiveness.
If I gave this painting an Italian name (I haven’t since this actually is a Greek scene), this would be it. It has become one of my favorite expressions in Italian. It means, “Slowly, slowly.” It also means, “Don’t rush.”
I remember watching this gentleman while on holiday on the island of Folegandros (if you haven’t been there, it’s extraordinary). He descended with great care and attention as he navigated the steps. Obviously, this man isn’t a young guy and is in need of a cane to get around. I realize, as well, that I’m no longer a spry whippersnapper who can bound up or down the stairs or pop up from a seated position with the ease of my youth. Even though I’m still in very good shape, with each passing year I need to do things with greater attention and less rush.
I’m tired of rushing.
And it’s taken me far too long to realize the benefits of taking it slowly. Like most westerners (and particularly Americans) I’d been conditioned to believe that rushing is essential to achieve something quickly and to get ahead in the competitive landscape. I wasn’t primed to believe or understand the benefits of slowing down and doing things thoughtfully and without stress. That’s when mistakes are made and important details or overlooked, often creating more work in the long term.
Also, when I’m rushing towards something, I’m missing much of the here and now.
I’ve always been drawn to the wisdom gained of age.
When you see many of my other paintings, you’ll see that I’m drawn to subjects of more mature ages. Maybe I’m drawn to the secrets they hold, the lessons that can only be learned from the experience of living. I think the benefits of taking it slowly is one of the biggest lessons.
Watch the start-to-finish of “Taking It Slowly”
I’m getting in the habit of capturing the different staging of developing my paintings. Below is a short video of this one!
Thank you for this latest life reminder. While I’ve never been one who productively charges forth in order to attain certain goals (I’ve actually suffered from the opposite problem–passivity and complacency), I’ve suffered from hasty emotional reactivity whenever other people don’t behave and situations don’t go as expected and/or desired. Here is where your shared experiences and lessons in this post, as well as in your Tao of Italy post, still very much apply. Pause. Consider. Let go. Find what is to be savored, rather than forcefully pushed against, or spun away from. And I LOVE that you included the Making of video. What a beautiful, contemplative, and in all ways illustrative way to put a finer point on it.
Thank you, my dear Susan, for your kind message. I believe that becoming aware of our conditioning and how we’ve become “wired” is powerful in of itself, maybe the most powerful thing instead of trying to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and try to change ourselves. Keep the faith! Jed