On Any Day, Do Something

January 1, 2013

Watercolor sketch, tools of the trade

Watercolor sketch, tools of the trade

I was inspired recently reading these words by the poet Jane Hirshfield in Jeffrey Skinner’s book, The 6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets:

“You don’t need to write every day, but you can do something every day that connects to and sustains your life as a person in love with words, images, music, stories, and what they can hold.  Listen with the ears of a language thief casing the mansion.  Cultivate concentration.  As you move through the day, notice one thing that you would not have seen if you were not looking with the questions of poetry in your ankles, knees, and tongue.  Remember a memorized poem in line at the post office.  Read something of substance before you read anything else in a day.  You don’t need to do all these things, you don’t need to write; only, on any day, do something.”

What do these words mean for me?

“I don’t need to paint every day, but I can do something every day that connects to and sustains my life as a person in love with images, form, pattern, composition, colors, and what they can hold.  Look with the eyes of a thief casing the mansion.  Cultivate concentration.  As I move through each day, notice one thing that I would not have seen if I were not looking with the questions of art in my ankles, knees, and eyes.  Look for forms and patterns in line at the post office. Read something of substance before I read anything else in a day.  I don’t need to do all these things, I don’t need to paint or sketch; only, on any day, do something.”
— with apologies to Jane Hirshfield

So this is my resolution for the new year.  To live a more artful life.  Maybe not to sketch or paint every day, but to sketch or paint more often.  To build a habit of art.  To give art prominent time in my days.  To feed my soul by visiting museums, learning the names of colors, experimenting and playing with tools of the craft, reading about artists and creativity, cultivating an attentive eye.  Slowly, slowly grow as an artist.

5 Responses to “On Any Day, Do Something”

  1. Kim Says:

    Lovely and inspiring post, thank you.

    Kim


  2. the names of colours – I could spend my life lost there!

  3. garden.poet Says:

    Definately an inspiring post- I will keep this in my mind as I move through the new year, day by day. thank you.

  4. shoreacres Says:

    Two things come to mind. One is the title of Flannery O’Connor’s collected letters – “A Habit of Being”. She believed with her whole being that Aristotle was right – the cultivation of habits was the key to a good bit of life. (I may have mentioned this. I can’t keep up with my own comments on others’ blogs any more.)

    The other thing that came to mind was Goethe’s dictum: “Every day we should hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture, and, if possible, speak a few sensible words.” It’s very nearly the same advice, although Goethe was offering it to everyone, not just artists.

    I like your version. And you’ve moved me to create a file for these marvelous quotations I keep finding on others’ blogs. So much wisdom!


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