Why Do I Do This?
By Bonnie White
I’ve just finished two paintings. Are they paintings, or are they just splashes of color held together with mud? I won’t know until tomorrow, after the painting fairy visits and rearranges those disjointed colors and marks, and erases the struggle.
Why do we do this?
Why did I get up early this morning to run around the house making lists in my head, trying to remember all the painting necessities—while feeding the animals, remembering the mail, planning other errands—and still attempt get to the painting site near sunrise? Breakfast in the car, picking up my new glasses from the lock-box in front of the eyeglass store: Life on the fly. All to drive to a prearranged location so that I can stop, throw out all the brain clutter, smell the air, feel the breeze, and open my eyes and see as though I’ve never seen before: to ground myself and look around me with eyes that only seek beauty and meaning; to find the light, the shadow, the color, the shapes, the story; to forget about all the accomplished people who share this space (not to forget about them, but to put aside the competitiveness that drives our world); to join as one and as a whole and for one period of time, to reach out for all that surrounds us, filter it through our individual perspectives and create a visual record of a place, a time, our lives, our space, our world; to be a part of something; to participate in something greater than ourselves or our individual accomplishments.
As I sit here in these beautiful surroundings, wondering why I didn’t paint the echinacea looking back at me, wondering if the fairies will do my painting justice, thinking I should put this away and get on with my day, I am restored. I have a sense of belonging. I’ve seen many paintings that will live in my memory, even if the artists never show them again. I’ve spoken with old friends and met new ones. The world has become a better place.
Bonnie White is a watercolor artist who has participated in four of the five Plein Air competitions at the Columbia Center for the Arts. She’s had an interest in writing most of her life and has finally decided to devote some time to it.