This pandemic feels like pandemonium. When it first struck, panic ensued at the thought of lost health, lost income, lost opportunities, lost momentum, lost creativity (artist’s block is a real thing if you don’t manage to center yourself). Galleries closed, paint-outs were canceled, classes and workshops needed to be shuttered to protect us from catching a potentially deadly virus. In what felt like the blink of an eye, artists’ audiences disappeared. What is art, when it cannot be enjoyed by people?
I have often said in the past that I do my best work when I’m just playing. The prime painting environment for me involves being surrounded by a gaggle of my best artist friends, whom in my solitude I miss dearly right now, without pressure to produce quality work for galleries, shows, or commissions. Now that I find myself forcefully thrown into this scenario of painting for myself being the only option, a question has begun to nag and nibble at my mind. Is creating pointless because I don’t have an audience? After all, how can art be on anyone’s mind when toilet paper seems to be the most important thing right now?
This pandemic has made me come to the conclusion that an artist’s ability and desire to create is innate and ever-present. It cannot be taken away by anyone or anything. Retreating to my studio, filling my palette with the most beautiful rainbow of juicy color, and spilling my heart out onto my canvas feels so familiar and comforting. No matter how loudly the storm is howling around me, I find my sanctuary within me; my brushes serve as an extension of my soul. I am not describing anything from my past, and I am not looking toward the future. Instead, I’m finding the truth of this very moment. Nothing more. Nothing less. This moment is all I have, and absorbed by the painting process I am completely present. I am the eye of the storm.
This moment in time, captured with paint and brushes on canvas, will exist long after this tragic pandemic has passed. Artists will once again have the opportunity to share their work with others, starting with this incredible project by my dear friends Bill and Mary Sue Weinaug. “The Eye Of The Storm” will be a reminder that it is enough to create for oneself, for the sake of creating, but art is meant to be shared with others to connect our lives in all our humanness and to share color, light, and hope. In order to pass on our painted stories to others, we must learn to properly appreciate the present, and be able to find the little sunny things that make it beautiful, no matter how fiercely the dark storm rages.