Pursuing the Impossible
September 18, 2013
“The main problem with turning the world into language is that it’s, well, impossible. The word is always less than the thing it is meant to represent.”
– Stephen Dobyns, Next Word, Better Word: The Craft of Writing Poetry
I’m convinced that art is a worthy pursuit and that if I persist, if I practice painting on each of my days off from my paying job, then I will eventually become a good artist. This may take years, thousands and thousands of little paintings, and I am okay with that.
Right now, I have many dissatisfactions with my work. And if I read Dobyns correctly, I can expect to always be searching and reaching for improvements. He says, ” . . . I also thought poetry was something from which I could always learn more. It was a country whose boundaries were never fixed, that always seemed to expand.”
The challenges of painting are intrinsically interesting to me. I seem to be the kind of person who needs to learn by doing, by reading and looking at others’ works, and then by trying again. I need to learn slowly. So far, I am largely self-taught. So there is a danger that I am repeating bad habits. Maybe someday I’ll take a painting class, but for now, as long as my dissatisfactions do not turn into discouragement, I need to struggle on my own, charged by hope.
to be imperfect
in all the ways
that keep you
– Alice Walker, from “Hope to Sin Only in the Service of Waking Up”
So when my paintings fall far short from the things they are meant to represent, I hope to stay hopeful and take up the brushes again. I expect perfection to always elude me, but there is beauty in imperfections, too.