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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

what art has to do with it ~

There are so many things right with this saying… I wouldn’t be alive today without ‘art.’ At a time in my life when even my two beautiful sons couldn’t make me want to go on — when the entire world seemed shattered and full of scarlet glass — a writer saved me. Laid her words down before me, like a thread out of a maze. Almost blind from grief, I followed it to safety, to light.

I’m a museum junkie. Absolutely addicted to them — I go nuts w/out a regular fix. And I buy artisan jewelry, sometimes on Etsy, sometimes at festivals, sometimes writing an artisan I saw in a store to ask where I can buy her jewelry (yep — that would be me :)). I believe that art feeds us, and I try to support artists so they can feed themselves.

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My sons were taught early on that we don’t do illegal downloads — it’s a crime against the artists. I ask my students — in every class I teach, from 2nd grade writers to 90-year-old ones — to think about what art means. What it is that is so important, so beautiful, so horrific, that it needs to be written down, painted, made by hand, sewn or forged or built or imagined. And I subscribe to  Alice Walker’s belief that quilters, and gardeners, and the nameless men & women who made ephemeral art from their daily lives are real artists.

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I like to draw. Actually, I like to play w/ colours :). I like the way they can be blended together to make more colours, how they feel slipping onto paper. But I can’t draw worth crap. (and this is no-longer-secret grief, believe me…) My sister-in-law is an amazing artist. Her work invites, engages, intimidates. So I asked her to teach me to draw.

N.B.: the best content producers — folks who know things inside & out — aren’t always the best teachers :). But she did teach me something else. Something life-changing. Something I should have migrated from what I know (and teach) about writing…

You don’t have to be great when you begin. Just start. You’ll get better. Eventually you’ll be a LOT better, if you just hang in there. And isn’t that a metaphor for everything…? :)

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Once I had my students lay on the floor beneath a  Dale Chihuly ceiling and just look at it. Then write about it, afterwards. I didn’t want to write (rare for me!) ~ I just wanted to look at those colours too clear and vivid for naming. For a moment, I was the poet Rumi : I can’t stop pointing to the beauty.

I want my beginner’s heart to be as full of light as that ceiling — as many-windowed as the earth. For me, a poem a piece of blown glass a hand-made chain a forged and chased knife blade a softly worn quilt a neatly plotted vegetable garden… They’re each of them art, if made with the intent to give beauty. And even horror can be beautiful, as Picasso knew:

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We can do that, each of us: live our lives as if they were art. Make them meaningful to the viewer on the outside. More reflective of our own inner purpose. I’m hoping that — if I keep practicing :) — like the drawings in my journal, my life will become more coherent. More like what I imagine it to be. A bigger beginner’s heart…

 

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