do it anyway

In the midst of the pandemic we are all experiencing together, I notice that I am having a lot of negative thoughts about art making. Thoughts like, “What you’re doing is not important,” or “You’re not saving lives here, ” or perhaps the most negative of all- “No one cares about art at a time like this, so stop sharing.” Does any of this sound familiar? I hope most of you hold more positive thoughts, but if not, know that you are not alone.

So I’ve been waiting. Waiting for these thoughts to turn positive or to go away before I go back to making and sharing art. Waiting to feel less guilty about wanting to make paintings. Waiting, waiting, waiting. But the thoughts are still there.

The truth is, these thoughts are not new, unfortunately. They pop up from time to time when I paint and share and teach. And usually, I acknowledge them and paint anyway. I have these thoughts and I share anyway. I do it anyway.

So why is it any different now?

The obvious answer is that the situation we find ourselves in is unprecedented, and it’s taking time to adjust. But what I truly believe about art, negative thoughts aside, is that it’s a way to communicate the vulnerability of being human, to acknowledge joy alongside the difficulty. Focusing on art does not mean we are ignoring the difficulties in the world. On the contrary. It means we are choosing to keep true to ourselves in spite of them.

Today I will paint what I love, and I will share, even though I have these negative thoughts. I hope you will do the same.

12 thoughts on “do it anyway

  1. That’s beautifully put. I get that way slot, like you said, not related to the current situation. It’s strange, but, I’ve been painting more! I have less inhibitions then before. Thank you and I love your work. Are you in New Jersey? I’m in Israel.

    1. Thank you, Sarah Lynn. I’m glad to hear that you’ve been painting more and are less inhibited. I think sometimes challenging situations free us because our focus is on more serious matters, if that makes any sense. I know it’s that way for me. Thank you for stopping by and for your kind compliment. I am in Pennsylvania- not far from New Jersey. I’m glad you found me from so far away.

  2. A lovely post Tracy, I looked also at your post ‘ paint what I love’. What I’d love is to read your experiences of painting – the crafting of the pallet knife to make the opalescent glass . . . why and how you chose the colour that have to be exactly the ones that you want.

    I certainly agree with all the negatives that go on. One gets used to it – I find concentrating on the act of mixing a colour, or choosing the objects of rationalising the composition helps melt into the present practical place.

    I think the luminosity you achieve is lovely.

    1. Hi, Marilyn! It’s nice to see you here – thanks for stopping by and for your kind compliments. I appreciate your input and will give it some thought. Sometimes I am so focused while painting (like you mentioned melting into the present practical place) that it’s not easy for me to remember why I chose certain colors or tools after the fact. I respond in the moment and would probably respond differently on a different day. But if it’s helpful at all, in terms of color I tend to focus a lot on value and temperature. And my stance on tools (palette knives, brayers, scrapers, etc.) is that they should only be used for a specific purpose- to achieve a particular thing. In any case, I can see that I have some writing to do on this topic! Thanks for asking about it.

  3. Your work is lovely, ethereal, and uplifting . Thank you for sharing your thoughts and definitely keep painting. These are unprecedented times. Iā€™m looking forward to taking a class with you soon.

  4. Hello Tracy,
    I just found your name on Winslow Art Center and checked out your paintings. šŸ™‚
    Then I came across this writing.
    During the worst of the pandemic, my mom had a stroke which left her mentally impaired with severe aphasia. Of course, she was locked down in the care facility until her death in November 2020.
    She was very insecure with using FaceTime and so difficult to communicate with on the phone. She sometimes had to be told what the phone was in order to put it to her ear. (She had been a telephone operator)
    So, I started to create uplifting, positive postcards that I would send her every day for some support and encouragement. At first, I thought/wished that the PT would get her “back.” But was soon to learn that was not ever going to happen.
    Creating these small watercolor postcards for her, helped me too, in belief that they might help her navigate the unrest and confusion of her situation.
    I posted them on FaceBook, too, and soon found that many others were lifted by the message and the images. I was encouraged by many friends to continue to create and print notecards of them so they could use in uplifting others.
    It was so healing for me to think to do some small thing for my mother’s comfort. The nurses said she loved getting them and hung them on her wall, sharing them with anyone who came in. It is the last best thing I could have done for her and myself.
    So no matter the situation, art/creating…
    “Focusing on art does not mean we are ignoring the difficulties in the world. On the contrary. It means we are choosing to keep true to ourselves in spite of them.”

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