Sailing with Vinnie:  Chasing the Horizon

So fellow travelers, a while back I wrote about a creative adventure involving some Van Gogh inspired art for a good cause.

Sailing with Vinnie the final version.

A few of my friends commented on my project; one thing led to another and soon I was signed up for several paint events with various groups of friends at a local art studios.

One session held at a small independant studio session had a distinctly different atmosphere from the Van Gogh fund raiser, which was held at a locally owned franchise studio. The concept of creating a painting in a casual setting was the same but participants could choose different paintings. The supervising artist walked around our stations giving us simple step by step directions for our chosen artwork. We shared snacks and beverages, chatted about our families, concerns about current events and joked about our not so artistic abilities.

This last bit was one thing our studio host was quick to turn around. She would point out elements in our paintings that worked well, giving simple suggestions and encouraging each person to step back and look at their painting from a difference perspective. She gently reinforced the intention of working on different paintings is to minimize self-judgments and comparisions with others.

We judged ourselves anyways.

Why do we demean our creativity so definitively? Artistic endeavors do not have to produce  a masterpiece every time. Not one of the great artists through all the centuries could do that. Where is it written we have to be good at art to enjoy making it? We cut ourselves out of too many opportunities to try something new expectations of mastery.

Still, I understand the tendency to be overly critical.

I always end up tinkering with my work afterwards until enough of the “not quite right” spots are “good enough.” 

This scene from the recent painting class sat on my easel at home for a couple of weeks until I adjusted a few little details that nagged at me. One of the Adirondack chairs looked awkward, there were some areas in the water where the color was off and a smudge along one of the tree lines that needed “erasing”.  Thank heavens for the forgiving nature of acrylic paint. 

It’s been a little surprising to find how much joy I feel while painting. When my daughters were young I gave myself the gift of taking art classes for a few years. The busyness of life slowly encroached on my creative time and my art supplies were packed away for close to a decade. Coming back to the easel now I find, awkward smudges aside, the “masterpiece” syndrome holds less power over my process. Trusting my instincts of how a painting feels as it unfolds helps me tune out the voice of my Inner Critic. When my work looks right to me it is “good” art. Inspired by the pieces I accomplished in the past few months, I’ve been grabbing little snippets of time to work on an unfinished landscape left over from my summer art class days many years ago.

So now there is a stack of blank canvases in my art corner and the long days of summer vacation about a month away hold the promise of creative horizons yet to be sailed.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Sunrise Comes So Sudden

Everyone has been made for some particular work and the desire for that work has been put in every heart”.  Rumi


So fellow travelers, this quote came at a moment when I realized just how hard it was for me to wrap my mind around Favorite Youngest Daughter’s return to Tokyo where she is completing her freshman year at TUJ. She left very early this morning and just texted me from O’Hare airport in Chicago  “On the plane to Narita!”  It will be at least twelve hours before I hear from her in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Knowing she is headed back to her own little apartment in a new neighborhood she says reminds her of home eased maternal concerns for her comfort. Knowing she is looking forward to this semester of classes armed with a new-to-her Canon DSLR camera and a go get ’em atttitude helped me smile through the departure tears. Seeing how much she has grown into independence, asking about budgets and taking time to talk through some decisions about her plans for the summer and next year made the last long hugs (we had to do two rounds) made it just a little easier to watch her walk out of sight towards her gate.

A few years ago I wrote about those emotions of letting go as as I prepared to face a year of big changes. Then it was sunsets which triggered my emotions.  This season it has been sunrise which brought that sensation of time’s relentless forward motion. Since New Year’s Day I have watched daylight spread gradually across the sky every morning and thought “No. Wait. Please let us hold onto the star filled dreams of these long winter’s nights.”  The yin-yang of sunset-sunrise symbolizes my two daughters so well. One of the great joys of this past year has been watching them grow closer. Favorite Oldest Daughter is thrilled her little sister is taking a photography class from her favorite professor at the Tokyo campus.


Takara on a photo shoot during her 2010 semester in Japan

My younger daughter soaked up every bit of holiday tradition she could fit in during the month she was home.  From baking cookies and watching the Muppet Christmas Carol while we wrapped presents, to singing carols at a local Dickens Christmas Festival and the annual family quest for the perfect tree at our favorite Christmas Tree farm. The only thing missing was the Dad-Daughter snowball fight, since there was no snow for ammunition.  Oh well, maybe next year.


Dad and Daughter search for the Christmas Pickle hidden each year in the tree by Santa.

And there’s comfort in that thought of “next year” because while our family has moved to a stage of life where we spend more time apart than we do together, it has made the together times all the more treasured.  And as I wrote when “the kids” made their big move out West, my heart is happy to see my daughters pursuing their dreams. I would no sooner hold my daughter back from her great adventure across the ocean than I would, even if I could, stop the sun from rising. As I said in the earlier post “If we remain in the past, we have no future. Yesterday is gone and when tomorrow arrives it becomes today. To hold back gains nothing. Love does not clip wings.  Love is the wind that carries others to their dreams.”

The sun rose, today arrived. If it means a few heart strings must give then so be it. God speed Emma, may the sun rise and shine brightly on your dreams.


Emma shooting video at Asakusa Temple

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.