Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Painting Like Van Gogh

Vincent's Room at Arles
You don't have to. That's what I realized last night. I don't have to paint like Van Gogh; I don't have to paint at all.

Now, for some time I have been interested in learning to paint with oils, and knew I needed to learn a lot about this difficult art, not just muddle around in it.  I can go to the local university, OSU, and sit in on classes free, but the huge campus is hard for me to navigate, parking is horrible, and so on.  Tom suggested I could look at course syllabi online and at least find what books are used.  So I did.

And that laid out for me just how hard it is to learn to paint in oils.  It looked daunting.  And - as you know - I am almost 70 and have limited energy and a small tremor.  And my right (dominant) arm still hurts every day because when I fell down last September I not only broke a bone, but damaged the rotator cuff.  I do know a painter can fit herself out with assistive devices, like Chuck Close.

However, I told Tom, "It looks hard."

He said, "You don't have to do that.  You could just do art appreciation."

Sometimes it is very powerful when someone reminds you that you don't have to do something.  I felt my relief in my body.  I thought, I don't have to accomplish anything anymore.  I think this is realistic. And it was also true when I was fifty.  I wish I'd known.

It is realistic to remember that we are very small, and we don't have to be big, we don't have to be driven like poor Van Gogh, whose life was so hard that I have had to stop reading the biography right now.  We can just be ourselves.  We can be devoted to being.  We can just enjoy the acid green spring leaves against the French blue sky.  In our daily lives we always have opportunities to do simple acts of kindness, like listening, or bringing Grandma some chocolate (thank you again, Don), or answering an e-mail with care, or being patient with your very old neighbor when she is locked out of the house.  Things like that relieve the suffering we humans are prone to.

I do enjoy photography every day.  That doesn't mean I have to buy a really good camera.  Or even edit what I do.  I just came across the above.  I don't know what the shadow is, but I have figured out what it is a picture of.  Anyone?


  1. Good photo of the median line on a street...they are usually painted.
    The shadow is your sun hat
    Yes, we western humans are always "doing" trying to find the happiness, that is right here, right now inside. Judging life as good or bad, sets up for "system wide failure" to locate happiness...it just is.

    1. You are both right - a decaying painted stripe in a parking lot.

      Yes, always convinced it's over the next mountain.

  2. You know you can't count on your body to bring happiness, it's ready for a total overall .....next life.

  3. you've pointed out something very important Jeanne: that wonderful, relief-filled, freeing moment when we realise we DON'T HAVE to do.

    1. Thanks, Karen. I know you're growing as fast you can, too. Turning forty - whew. I remember it. Much worse than turning 60.