What Inspires You?

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Ward Nichols, in WNC Magazine

Once upon a time I wanted to be a painter. But well-meaning folks (or perhaps fearful) instilled in me the idea of the “starving artist.”

I heard things like, “You’ll starve to death.”

“Who would you run to when the rent came due?”

“It takes years to become good enough to make money with art.”

“Artists are born, not taught. You would have to have displayed an aptitude before you could walk.”

When I was very young, my grandmother rented a room in her house to a painter, whose work never showed in big galleries. I don’t even know how she made her living. I know she passed away before I graduated high school. And until I’d lost everything in a fire, I had the most exquisite realist painting of a fawn lying in tall grass that she had painted for me. I wanted to be like her and paint nature as she had. Joan Wilson was the first artist to make an impression on me. To this day, my cousin haunts garage sales and thrift stores in the hopes of discovering a piece of her lost work.

Realism done well astounds me. This weekend I walked into a small local gallery to the works of Ward Nichols, clutched my chest and gasped. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I am not easy to impress. I was on a cloud, which happened to be one of his favorite subjects. This is one of the few artists who makes his living from his art. At 86, he’s now celebrating 50 years as an artist and keeps a vulture near his easel to remind him to not waste a moment.  His biography said that he knew he was born to be an artist because his name is Draw spelled backwards.

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Cohesive, on display at the Wilkes Art Gallery

The detail in tiny blades of grass and bare tree branches, blemishes in the wood planks of dilapidated barns, tire treads in snow, and the bolts on each component of a steam locomotive took my breath away. His still life metal work is so flawless that I had to study each piece to be sure it was not a photograph. This artist understands light, use of negative space, and color restraint. He documents places that no longer stand and handles nostalgia like a historian.

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Scissor table with pot

When I see work this elevated, I know in my heart that had I pursued that path I probably would never have achieved such success. So many don’t.

What made him such a stand-out?

Discipline, which is something I struggle with daily, and am intensely inspired by.

What or who inspires you?

 

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Wearing the Clothes of a Victim is Never Fashionable

Image result for images of broken hearts with quotes Photo from quotesgram.com

We’ve all had the pity-party after someone we loved hurt us. But when we do it publicly, it ain’t pretty. It’s just pretty sad.

When a relationship doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean you should, to quote a young woman I counselled this week, “Put myself back in a box for a couple years.”

Forgive me, but this just rolled out of my mouth. “You’ll go in a box when you’re dead. Why would you waste time in one while you’re still alive?” Bad me. But I’ve been there.

Boo, hoo. Poor you.

Emotional safety is a myth. We are alive to LIVE. That means getting out of the house (your box) and doing things that put you out in the world, among a variety of people having different experiences. Some only for the moment. Others may last a lifetime.

Taking a chance on love is a leap of faith. But if you understand the law of attraction where “like attracts like” you’ll see that you will most often attract a partner or friend of similar neuroses. Misery loves company. If you are a hot mess, you’ll attract people to you with their own baggage. If you are embroiled in lots of drama, you’ll draw other players wrapped up in their own theatrics.

Relationships begin with you. If your relationships aren’t working, begin by looking at yourself first. A little honest self-examination can save you a lot of agony.

What about me is drawing ______ (kind of person) into my life?

Even better, What about that person is me? (Hint: It is usually the part you dislike.)

This is not an easy task. You must be honest with yourself about what kind of emotionally charged energy you put out into the world. Are you angry and confrontational? Are you shy and submissive? Are you kickass aggressive? Are you pretending to be tough to deflect bullies? Are you a people-pleaser always “goes along to get along”? Are you The Walking Wounded?

What part of yourself are you compromising by not speaking up for yourself? Not asking for what you really want? Or what part of you says too much and still doesn’t get your way?

Walking around telling the world how he/she done you wrong – that you might as well “go back in your box” – could get you a little sympathy, but wear those clothes too long and you’ll look like a walking yard sale. Everyone will see you coming, want to avoid you, and pity you because you just don’t see yourself.

Clean out your own closet before rearranging someone else’s.