Hello Sweet T,
How are you? Thank you for reminding me of Parker Palmer in your last letter. I think we could talk for days about his essay, “We Teach Who We Are”. I had never read it and still need to digest the last two sections. There is a lot to think about. This introspection of his really struck me,
“Teaching, like any truly human activity, emerges from one’s inwardness, for better or worse. As I teach, I project the condition of my soul onto my students, my subject, and our way of being together. The entanglements I experience in the classroom are often no more or less than the convolutions of my inner life. Viewed from this angle, teaching holds a mirror to the soul. If I am willing to look in that mirror, and not run from what I see, I have a chance to gain self-knowledge—and knowing myself is as crucial to good teaching as knowing my students and my subject.”
Like you I am preparing for my fall classes. I will be teaching a Mixed Media class in a few weeks which I haven’t taught in some time and am super excited. Thinking about how I wish to approach the class this time around I thought about what Parker said about one’s inwardness. So much of what I am currently reading, seeing, observing and reflecting affects my teaching. I wondered if you felt like this as well?
I have been listening to Steven Pressfield’s book, Turning Pro while I work in the studio. There is so much to think about in this book in terms of looking at the routines and habits that support my art and those that don’t. He had made me really look at areas where I have the mindset of a Pro and where I could use improvement. I am reminded once again of the importance of being diligent to my craft each day, simplifying, and absorbing what I am learning before rushing onto the next thing.
Art takes time.
I find myself submerged with ideas, wanting to dive deep with them all yet not get swept away on the wave of perfection. I want everything to be awesome. Awesome sketches, awesome writing, photography, painting, etc… The trouble with this is that nothing is perfect and in order to get to the awesome and grow, often you need to accept the messy parts allow for mistakes and face imperfection.
This is where I am right now with my work. A tender place where I feel most vulnerable yet have a knowing in my heart that I am on the right path and just need to trust. Growth is worth the risk, but as Parker said, “it isn’t always easy to look yourself in the mirror and not run”. This is what I have been thinking about.
I started ReVision 117 by taking a closer look at the queen anne’s lace growing in the woods by my house. It is so intricate and beautiful! I know many people consider it a weed but I just love how it looks on its own or mixed with other flowers in a beautiful bouquet. I started with simple, contour line drawings to get centered and clear my thinking mind. From there I let my inner guides take over and created imagined drawings.
It wasn’t until I started painting that I noticed I was struggling, trying to share the beauty I see in nature with my feelings about it. I felt a pull between what I thought I should be painting (the queen anne’s lace) and how I wanted to paint so I did both. I started with a big brush and created loose brushstrokes with many shades of blue, a color I rarely use. I worked from my heart and what is emerging are paintings with an energy I can’t describe but that I love. They just feel right in their unpolished way.
The painting above is one from this series. It is still a work in progress along with the other ones. I am not sure where they are leading me but I feel good knowing I overcame resistance and strengthened my intuition muscle. In addition to these paintings I started another small series where I have incorporated the queen anne’s lace. I will let you know how things progress and which one I will choose for ReVision 117. Until then, I will leave you with my mantra for this painting and a quote by Palmer Parker.
“My Truth and Creativity are Within Me.”
“good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher. In every class I teach, my ability to connect with my students, and to connect them with the subject, depends less on the methods I use than on the degree to which I know and trust my selfhood—and am willing to make it available and vulnerable in the service of learning.”