Colored pencil art Life in general Sketchbook Pages

Time Is Like Toothpaste (Or Paint); A Tube of Birthday

Tube of Birthday, Ink and colored pencil, 12x9"
Tube of Birthday, Ink and colored pencil, 12x9"

I have a very tenuous grasp on time. I always think I can do more in the allotted time than is possible and then I end up rushing to avoid being late (usually unsuccessfully). This “time grandiosity” I suffer from also means I start the day, a weekend, or in the case of the drawing above, my birthday vacation, with a sense of infinite time. And then suddenly the time is gone and I’m shocked and dismayed.

I always thought of time as passing on its own until I read this article at the beginning of my birthday vacation, How to Actively Take Control of Your Time, which compares time to a tube of toothpaste.

Unlike a stream running or sand falling in an hourglass, toothpaste does not simply come out of a tube on its own – we force it out and use it up…Time does not fly by – rather, we push minutes, hours and days out of our finite toothpaste tube of life.  ~ Sid Savara

So at the beginning of my vacation (back in June) I drew the tube of paint (seemed more appropriate than toothpaste) and marked off what I did each day. I paid attention to the choices I was making about how I squeezed out that day’s “paint.”

What about you? Do you choose how you squeeze out the hours of your life or do you feel like time is squirting by on its own?

Drawing Gardening Ink and watercolor wash Life in general Other Art Blogs I Read Painting Plants Sketchbook Pages

Hydrangeas (and me) in Progress

Hydrangeas in progress, ink & watercolor
Hydrangeas in progress, ink & watercolor

We had a sunny day after months of rain, so I took a walk around my garden. I was happy to see the hydrangeas coming back after having been cut down to little woody stalks. The three I’d planted after the comical hydrangea planting fiasco were all sprouting and there was a new one, a volunteer that appeared on its own volition.

And I too feel cut down to my woody stems, stretched thin by all I try to do.

So I’ve been thinking about who I am as an artist, who I want to be, what work brings me the most joy or the most suffering, my artistic strengths and weaknesses, and how I can make the time I spend on art as satisfying as possible.

I’m so grateful for artist friends like Barbara and my sister, who are good listeners and understand the challenge of having so many (too many?) interests and artistic pursuits to follow. Or, as Barbara writes, we’re “Never Bored” (or “Never B-ed” as she spelled it, for reasons she explains in her blog post).

Ultimately my goal is a more balanced life; I know that to stay healthy, along with time for art, I need to make more time for exercise, relaxation and play. (And some of my best art-making has been play; it just doesn’t have to be so darn serious!)

And like my hydrangeas, some good ideas are starting to bud and bloom about how I can nurture my most rewarding art pursuits now, while putting off or letting go of the others until more of my time is my own.

Gouache Ink and watercolor wash Life in general Painting People Sketchbook Pages

No Stopping the Seasons…or the Arrows of Time

Can't Stop Trees, ink and watercolor
Can't Stop the Seasons, ink and watercolor

On my walk to Peets Coffee and the bookstore today I saw so many things along the way that I would have liked to sketch. But I was feeling tired and under-caffeinated so I made a mental note to take the same route on the way back to sketch them.

It struck me as ironic to see a sign saying “STOP” beside a tree (above) with leaves that are changing colors and falling. We can’t stop the seasons, time keeps steadily moving on, the days get shorter, and I’m so aware of each passing day being one less to do all the things I want to do.

As I wrote that, I pictured myself with a quiver of arrows that represent my days, and each day I select an arrow and shoot it from my bow…and that gave me an idea for a sketch….

Arrows of Time, ink and gouache
Arrows of Time, ink and gouache

And that made me wonder which is better:

  1. To carefully select the daily arrow (of time) and aim to make sure the day is spent intentionally, doing the things that matter;
  2. To be adventurous, pick an arrow at random and shoot without aiming and (as my old yoga teacher used to say when instructing us to take a seemingly impossible pose) “just see what happens” — let each day be its own adventure.

UPDATE: Diane Patmore just left this most wonderful comment:

“Perhaps that sign is telling us to stop and look at the tree?”

That snapped me right out of my melancholic meanderings. Indeed, the only way to slow time is to live in the moment, and enjoy it as it’s happening! Yes! Stop and look at the tree; appreciate its beauty and the color of changing leaves. Accept its reminder that change is inevitable and resisting change causes suffering.

Breathe in the wonderful October air and be grateful to be breathing at this very moment. Ahhh. I feel much better now!

P.S. The book I bought was Imaginative Realism by James Gurney that I read about this morning on Making a Mark. It’s an excellent guide to illustration and art in general.