Copyright Anita L. Rodriguez, The Last Beach Day, watercolor on paper, 5×12 inches
The above was painted from memory (atypical for me). I wanted to picture my last visit to the beach in Oceanside, CA but not a literal picture. On July 27, 2007 I wasn’t wearing this outfit nor did I have this hat and I was there with my 2 kids; however, I might have looked into the horizon or the sky and wondered what was going to happen now. We were moving to KY rather against our will; events had intervened that made it necessary and we wouldn’t be making our annual end-of-the-school-year trip to the beach anymore. My native Californian heart was heavy and I didn’t think I’d ever get over the loss…
But it’s been 10 years! I’ve accomplished a LOT in those years with paintings, exhibitions, travelling outside the immediate area, learning more technological stuff – more than I did in CA where I felt complacent. My attitude has changed and this one shift has been a game changer; negativity and a poor self image simply will not do. I sometimes do find myself wishing I could get a natural pedicure of sorts from walking on the beach but I have a new life and a new attitude now and I can’t go backwards.
Here’s a snapshot of a couple of my students at the local art and craft store working on a landscape painting. I love seeing a person gain confidence through some creative activity! And that thought spun off into this: what do artists like to collect? What captivates a person (especially someone involved with creating images) to obtain another’s work?
My other part-time job is painting instructor at one of the local arts and crafts stores. I had a student a few nights ago who, in the course of conversation, said that people who have nothing give of themselves (or words to that effect). Her statement struck me into considering something else.
A few days before that class, I volunteered to help serve lunch at the community kitchen. I chopped fruit, then served up the resultant fruit salad. I didn’t look at the people I was serving, mainly because I wanted the fruit salad to land on tray and not the counter or the floor. But I was also thinking of my Mexican grandmother who counseled to do what needed to be done and don’t look at who you’re helping – that is, don’t judge – and don’t worry about who’s watching you (don’t tally up brownie points). And anyway, I felt I had nothing to give but my time, which is why I was there.
Something happened to me on the inside while just doing what needed to be done. Years ago, I wrote a kind of credo that stated I had found my wealth in no thing. Nothing. What do I really have?
About a week ago, I made pancakes for the family (yes, it happens sometimes). After I ate, I cleaned up like I remembered my dad doing after he finished baking. As the goodies baked – usually oatmeal cookies for our school lunches – he’d put the dry ingredients away and wash the dishes (no dishwasher in my childhood home), leaving the kitchen clear and ready for the next meal-making adventure.
What’s that got to do with studio practice? Well, it got me to thinking: what if I put things away when I finished using them – I mean more than just putting some plastic wrap on my palette and turning off the lights? What if I spent more time cleaning or clearing a little every time I went to the studio? Wouldn’t it be easier to start new projects and even create more space to dream?
And all those little things I’ve acquired over the years that just take up space – do I really need them? Earlier this summer, I donated a lot of stuff and I have more things I want to clear out of my closet. But I want to get my studio under some kind of control – it’s vital to have a clear space for the next adventure.