Oh Be Swift

“Life is short, and we have never too much time

for gladdening the hearts of those

who are travelling the dark journey with us.

Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.”

My old friend, the poet Jim Begg sent me this quote from the Swiss philosopher Henri Frederic Amiel not long ago. It reminded me again of how important it is to reach out to each other in the spirit of gratitude and kindness particularly as we make work.

This year, as never before I have discovered Skype and Facetime as technologies that help to keep me connected on a weekly and monthly basis to two artist friends in their studios—one in London, one just across the Bay in Emeryville.  I know my friends are out there, working in their own studios and would respond at a moment’s notice if I called, but a regular, scheduled check-in has made all the difference.  Therese Lahaie and I meet weekly this way to check in on each other’s work and our progress on a list of administrative tasks that make the artwork possible.

It was during one of these weekly conversations that she suggested I dig into an impasse I was having in the studio and make 15 unfinished pieces in the space of 2 weeks.  She learned this trick from artist Michele Theberge.

Many of these studies that I made were created on on gessoed cardboard to keep the spirit up and the critic down as I shifted and re-worked my questions and approaches.  Under different circumstances, these 15 studies could have turned into the beginning of a series, but in this case, many of the pieces served as roads-not-taken or at least not-taken-right-now. They taught me a lot about the material I was working with and what I did and did not want to do with it.  The unique surprises along the way have opened new possibilities in my work.  New possibilities are always a welcome thing on the sometimes dark and winding journey of studio practice.