1. Create good habits. Monet stated, "I know how to paint the sea really well, you need to look at it every hour of every day in the same place so that you can understand its way in that particular spot and that is why I am working on the same motifs over and over again, four or six times even." My painting practice started almost six years ago, when I challenged myself to be more like Monet, and at the very least complete a painting each day. Now at 1,768 consecutive days without missing, this has truly become a habit. My day would be incomplete without it. Yes, there have been a lot of really bad paintings, but you have to have a lot of bad ones to collect a handful of good ones.
2. Have patience. Monet advised, "You don't absorb a landscape in a single day." Creating can be frustrating. It looks so easy. We wander through museums and galleries and think,"I can do that!" -and then frustrated at the first obstacle. A good friend Jeanne Oliver once said, "Nobody expects to sit down at a piano and play perfectly. People realize it takes years of dedicated practice. So why don't we know the same to be true of painting?" We need to keep trying, and give ourselves some grace.
3. Learn empathy. Monet truly understood that, "One can do something if one can see and understand it." Oh this goes so far beyond a painting, and in this time of political unrest of sorts, it's important to remember to listen and try to understand the other side. Things are never quite as black and white as one might suspect. The more time I spend 'in the clouds,' the more I notice the various shades , colors, tints, the important details, and the not so.
4. You're never too old. On his 76th birthday in response to Bernheim--Jeunes' well wishes Monet wrote, "I am happy to let you know that I am more and more passionate about my work, and my greatest pleasure is to paint and to enjoy nature." On days that I'm especially feeling my years, and wondering why am I doing this, I look to Monet and his exuberance, not even yet starting his Water lilies until his seventies. I think the daily challenge, the ever quest, keeps us young at heart.
5. Keep your heart awake. Monet brilliantly observed, "What keeps my heart awake is colorful silence." It is indeed a noisy world. Turn off the news. Turn off your cell phone. Take a 20 minute walk outside. Try to shut out the surrounding traffic or any other ambient noise and focus in on something beautiful, maybe clouds or a blossoming tree or a bird... Really notice the colors, the shapes they form, the interplay of darks and lights. The colors will sing and at the same time cause you to still. On my own walk, as I silently mix colors in my head and think about future paintings, eventually my mind quiets, and in that stillness I can be with my Creator and give Him thanks.
Monet once said, "I would like to paint the way a bird sings." And I, too, will dare to dream.
*The above photo is of my second group of clouds impressions. There are 12 paintings each 4x4" wax paint on wood cradled panel. They are being released as a set. Please message me with any inquiries.