We use the word "work" in various ways. "I hate my work." Or "I have to go to work." And everyone's favorite, "Work, work, work....(said with a sigh). It appears that the word sounds negative in my ears. "Work" has connotations of drudgery, something to be avoided. Tedious. Soul-soucking.
Blessed are those who love their work.
I worked hard this past week. I worked doing something I love - painting - and I both embraced this work and avoided it.
At the John C. Campbell Folk School in little Brasstown, NC, I dipped my toes into the worlds of oil painting and of plein air painting. I moved into not one, but two, zones of discomfort, being new to both oils and painting outside.
I had to struggle to leave behind old ways of painting - of using multiple colors, of using lots of brushes, of applying paint on top of paint, of painting in the comfort of my studio, and of working on large canvases. I no longer washed my brushes between colors, I wiped them dry. I worked wet-on-wet and held my breath, hoping the colors would hold and not turn into muddy mush. Given only two brushes, I used two brushes. I swatted bugs and hoped I would be able to pick them out of my painting once it had dried.
I learned to check my colors in the sunshine and not to rely on the colors as shown in the shade. I reminded myself again and again to put down a stroke...then stop...put down another stroke...and then stop again. Painting wet-on-wet, fat-to-lean, turned my comfortable world of acrylic painting upside down.
Tired at the end of each day, I spent a few minutes every night reviewing the days' successes and failures. I gently reminded myself each day "process, not painting."
I came to the Campbell Folk School to learn. I learned. I painted. I succeeded. I failed. I rejoiced in my time here. I have no regrets.
I worked. Hard.