Here in Austin we have a lot of oak trees--all kinds of them. What strikes me about a few of the varieties is that they hold onto their leaves until the very last minute of Winter. Other trees have been dropping their leaves for months, but these oaks hang onto their leaves until the new Spring growth finally pushes them out. With the trees holding onto their decayed leaves it still looks like Winter. And then within a couple of days new buds form, the tree drops all of its leaves, and the tender, bright green new leaves appear. It looks like the change of seasons happened overnight. I think if I stood there and watched it I could see it all happening right before my eyes. It’s pretty amazing. And it does this every year.
Sometimes I wish all new things in Life were as predictable. I’m talking about those times in Life when change seems to come from nowhere. Personally, professionally, physically, spiritually. I’m going along thinking all is good, everything is in place, things are moving in the right direction, and then, hello, here comes change. Not what I planned, and probably not what I think I want.
The same thing can often happen to me in a painting. I’ll have an idea or direction for a new painting that I’m really excited about. I’ll spend time thinking about it, writing notes about it and I might even go so far as to do a rough comp of it. I can be painting away with all going along according to plan, and then, it doesn’t. It has another way it wants to go and it needs to change.
This can be hard. I think I know what I want to do with it, but it’s not working. So, I wrestle with it for awhile, trying to make it go where I thought it was going. Ultimately, I have to let go and shift. I might have to paint over an entire area so I can allow something new to come in. When I go with the change, when I listen and follow and adapt, the painting always gets better.
I’m learning that when I stop resisting, become aware of what’s happening and where I’m being led, I tend to grow and get better. I read something the other day that said “putting energy into new growth will automatically, and without effort, push out the old.”
Just like the oak leaves, just like painting, just like Life.
How do you best weather change, both in your art and if your life? Please leave your comments here.