There's always a tipping point. For me, this time, it was that miserable failure of a meal I cooked last night that sent me over the edge, and shut me down. (You can read about it on PositivelyVegan.) Suddenly, everything I've been doing lately seemed like one big mess to me. And I know it was because I've been over-thinking all of it. This thing with the beads... to make flowers or to not make flowers, to commit to a project or abandon all goals. The need to figure it all out made it impossible to figure any of it out. And in the over-thinking of something so simple as dinner, I did myself the favor of tripping the overload switch.
Last night I read a short interview with artist, Agnes Martin. I am not a fan of her paintings. I don't understand them. The ones I've seen are stripes. Blue and white stripes on large canvasses. Just... stripes. But something she said in the interview got through to me. When asked how her painting was going several years ago, when she was in her 90's and painting in Taos, she said, "I am lost in blue..." When I read that, I knew it was time to go back and have another look at those paintings.
I got up this morning and declared it Field Trip Tuesday. I sent Rick off to work, closed my computer without so much as a backward glance to Facebook or email, and drove into town, to visit the Harwood Museum. Once inside, I walked straight back to the Agnes Martin room, where there are seven large blue and white striped paintings, hung on white walls.
I took a deep breath. I took my time. I walked slowly from one to the next, looking from far away, and from up close. I answered a text message. I looked at the brush strokes. I took my own picture. I walked around the room again. I stalled. I resisted. Finally, I sat down in the center, and just looked... for a long time.
I didn't expect anything, but I hoped for some kind of message to come through. And eventually, gradually, I began to get lost in the blue of one particular painting. I put down my phone and got out my notebook, where I wrote:
And even with this, I might be totally off, but since this was the message I got, it was right for me. Imagine the freedom to paint "with her back to the world." Imagine following a thread of inspiration as far as it will lead. Imagine having the ability to block out what anyone else might have to say, and to do the work, simply because it wants to be done.
I am suddenly smitten with Agnes Martin. She died in 2004, so I will never get to meet her. But inspiration and encouragement can certainly come from someone who is no longer in this world. I'm finding strength in her strength, and for that, I want to hug her, although I think she probably wouldn't like that very much.
Where to from here? I'm the last one to have that answer, and maybe also the last one to ask the question. I do know that while I'm "shut down," for the rest of Field Trip Tuesday, I'm not going to pay any attention to what anyone else "thinks" I should do. My back is to the world, at least for a little while. I still don't get the striped paintings, but I do get being lost in blue.
Meet Agnes Martin in the following two short videos. I love them both.