BEAUTY IN THE ORDINARY
“Didn’t someone say something about finding beauty in the ordinary?” Eric asks me as I relax beneath his shears clip, clip, clipping and touching up my coif.
Every time I sit in Eric Haun’s salon chair and surrender to his talented hands, I know I’ll receive more than just a stylish hairdo. I know my spirit will be fed as our conversation turns again and again to art. Though we both have day jobs that require a lot of our time and energy, our shared, abiding passion is for the making of our art.
I share one of my favorite Igor Stravinsky teachings: “My limitations are my freedom”, which Stravinsky fully states: “My freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles….The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one’s self of the chains that shackle the spirit.”
Eric relates how he’s been looking into the practices of some of the great impressionistic painters like Degas and Renoir. He’s been thinking about how they made more than just their famous paintings so familiar to us. How they also made simple sketches and line drawn studies. We talk about how the great artists valued the ordinary practices of drawing. That drawing for the likes of Leonardo de Vinci and Picasso was a ritual that preceded the grander beauty of their masterpieces.
I truly know the value of sketching and drawing. I do a lot of this ordinary, often mundane practice, before I begin any of my paintings. Drawing for me is a ritual that precedes whatever comes next artistically.
I love telling Eric that, after fulfilling the tasks of our jobs and our long work weeks, my husband David and I are setting aside and dedicating our Sunday afternoons to drawing and painting in our twin studios. That we’re committed to creating new complimentary bodies of work and mounting a collaborative exhibition in 2020. That the exhibition is already titled “Signs and Wonders”. That the paintings we’re producing are all about finding and seeing and honoring beauty in the ordinary.
Weekly we’re reinforcing my belief that when you do something positive over and over, eventually the repetition will have her way with you. This is the value of ritual in painting or anything that matters. Ritual is about showing up and being present, fully present over and over, again and again. Rituals create spaces where inspiration can enter. Leonard Cohen says this so well, “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
Rituals create the cracks in our routine, ordinary, everyday living. Rituals create the spaces and invoke the opportunities for the light of inspiration to come through and get in.
Our weekly studio rituals actually begin early with our Sunday morning family outing, including our furries Chiquita and Lasyrenn. First we stop for coffee and brunch in Joplin, and then on we go for our weekly photo-taking walk-about at George Washington Carver Monument Park.
Over the weeks and weeks of our ritual Sunday outings, for reasons I can’t fathom, I’ve become enchanted with ordinary signs we see going to and fro. They’ve become my inspiration for artistic interpretation. I’m finding amazing potential for beauty in the ordinary traffic signage we encounter. I ask David to slow the car and pull over. I get out. I take photos, and when we get back home I paint beautiful stories made of these ordinary road side sightings.
David, in the meantime, back in his studio, is painting and finding beauty on big, old, ordinary pieces of rough wood. He’s completed a huge, serenely beautiful Buddha on a huge chunk of a tree trunk pulled from a river. He’s painted a fiercely beautiful gar rendered on a slab of wood given to him by our friend Jan Stuckey who has a knack for acquiring cast off timber perfect for making art. For his handsome gar, David convinced me that my ordinary, beloved, miniature girlie garden rake was the perfect adornment he needed to give his gar a tail.
All for the sake of creating beauty out of the ordinary, now I’m in need of a new or old ordinary miniature garden rake with a wooden handle, so I can turn my ordinary, wee spring garden into a work of beauty! Surely inspiration and a girlie garden rake will come.