Lives are seldom lived out in grand sweeping gestures. We may see patterns as we look behind us, but our lives are built daily on the little moments and decisions we make. It can be a good thing to focus on the smaller tasks, letting them lead us toward our bigger decisions or goals. And it can also be nice to step away from the big picture to fully immerse in the moment in which we find ourselves. I've read that if we only focus on the future and past, we are robbing ourselves of living in the only thing that is real: our current place. All else is intellectual. We are only really present, body and soul, in the here and now.
Still, breaking down big goals or intimidating tasks can move us incrementally toward a larger vision. One of the Maine painters I admire is Jessica Lee Ives. A few years ago she had an exhibit that focused on small, daily paintings that she did of the many outdoor activities she does with her friends and family. That exhibit reminded me that I also spend a lot of time exploring Maine, which regularly inspires me to paint. After that exhibit I began including more people in my work. And, in thinking about my full schedule and how hard it has been for me to get to the easel, I have decided to try her other technique - painting small paintings daily.
And so my current work fluctuates between small work and larger projects. The smaller pieces help me to work out design problems, and help me to keep momentum rather than feeling stuck or behind. It's easier to sit in front of a blank 5x5 panel than a large canvas and to know that I can finish a piece.
There are a lot of changes going on in my life now, among friends and family. Loss seems to be the current
reality on many fronts. And so I am looking at things that can ground me in the here and now as I mourn what is lost and worry about what lies ahead. My hope is that the grounding can help me to remember the words of Julian of Norwich, whose cell I once visited a long time ago: "All shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well." And I hope to immerse myself in the reality of the here and now, to find joy each day in the here and now. There is so much beauty in the world. I want to keep my eyes open to the wonder of it, and to respond with thanks. And joy.