18" x 36" mixed media
The new year is a time for reflection. It’s a time to organize and set goals. It’s a time to assess the successes and failures of the past year.
Weight loss, fitness and money management are often goals for personal development. Increased marketing, higher production and personnel management might be goals for a small business. Perhaps time for spiritual growth and reflection is an appropriate goal. I don’t know about you, but I have made all of these goals a priority. I work on “small victories” for a month or so, and then drift back into old bad habits. Weight loss slows, shopping increases and a murder mystery takes the place of reading the Bible. What is it about human nature that makes old habits “die hard?”
This year I have but one goal. I want to BE PRESENT. That sounds simple, but, I think it may be the most daunting yet. What makes this a priority for me? I think it has to do with many bad habits I have accumulated.
1. Multi Tasking- In the rush to meet deadlines I usually have several paintings going at the same time. It is an efficient way to work. Sometimes, though, I get an assembly line mentality and don’t focus on one painting from start to finish. I want to change that.
2. Goal setting- It never fails, when there is a special event on the horizon, I feel that I have to lose weight to meet a deadline and wear a specific outfit to the event. It’s usually a wedding, a trip, or family gathering…. never fails. It puts me on the diet roller coaster that causes me to lose for the event and then celebrate when it is over. I am the proverbial diet yo yo. I want to change that.
3. Burn out- Whether it is an exercise regime or art production- I tend to overdo until near collapse, and then burn out and quit for a while. I want to change that… and learn the meaning of moderation.
4. Social media- The need to communicate through artificial media causes me to sometimes reject actual interaction with real people. It is far easier to text someone than call… to view photos on Facebook is like being there, right? How long will it be before people don’t attend museums any more in favor of viewing paintings on the internet? (I fear that already happens…)
Two stories illustrate these observations.
Once, while on a field trip at the Cincinnati Art Museum, a student saw a Degas sculpture of a ballet dancer. It was small but breathtaking. She was drawn to it by her love of dance. I asked her what she liked about it and she said it was better than things she had seen at the “mall museum.” Upon further conversation I learned she was talking about the store at Kenwood Mall called “The Museum Company.” I explained to her that the items in the mall were imitations and these were actually items made by the REAL ARTISTS. Her reaction was to burst into tears. “You mean that Degas actually TOUCHED this?” was her response.
Last week I was watching TV and happened to land on the station showing the concert for Hurricane Sandy relief. Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones are two of my favorites. I tuned in just in time to see Mick Jagger take the stage. Whether your taste in music includes this iconic band or not, you have to admit that Mick still has “IT.” You cannot deny that he puts on a show and dances like he did when he was much younger. There is even a current hit song titled “Dance Like Jagger.” He is a testament to forever young. I guess he is well preserved; who knows how. Anyway, the venue of the concert allowed him to be very very close to the edge of the stage. He could almost touch and be touched by the adoring fans in the front row. Fans had no doubt paid a hefty ticket price for the ability to be that close to him. He tried to make it a night to remember for them. He outstretched his hands in an effort to engage them to dance with him. He moved back and forth along the edge of the stage looking right at the fans and singing directly to them. “Jumpin Jack Flash” never sounded-or looked-so good. What amazed me, and probably Mick, was that NOT ONE PERSON danced with him. They were all so busy with their phones shooting videos and taking pictures of Mick that the moment slipped away. Sure, they have some great photos, photos they could have SEEN ON THE INTERNET, but, THEY COULD HAVE DANCED WITH MICK JAGGER.
I have noticed that sometimes I use a camera to shield myself from actually experiencing events. It is a good/bad thing. It’s nice to have photos… but sometimes your senses are not called into use because you rely on the camera. I WANT TO CHANGE THAT.
So, there you have it, my take on New Year’s Resolutions. I will be present. I will talk to people. I will answer the phone instead of ”screening.” I will take a break from Facebook and Twitter and focus on my real live friends and not my “friend list.” I will work on one painting from start to finish. I will turn off my email while painting. When I go for a walk I will leave the phone/camera at home. I will use moderation at the gym and enjoy the treadmill… yes, I actually do like exercise. I will refrain from getting into competitive situations with myself that lead me to burn out. And finally, I will try to be present every day when I interact with people, eat and exercise. No more unrealistic goal setting. Just breathe and live…
Sounds good to me. Happy 2013 and may your year be blessed.