I appreciate the blank canvas literally and figuratively. I put a canvas on an easel last month and spent a lot more time staring at it than I did putting paint on it. It does seem to stare, so bright, so full of potential, so easy to screw up. I have stared at many pieces of paper. Stared when it seemed I should have been writing or drawing or not just staring.
I have this routine now where I carry around a new notebook for a few days before I dare sully it with the reality of my scribbles. There are two notebooks on my desk right now waiting for me to take the plunge. I fell in love with this quote by Van Gogh from a letter he sent to his brother Theo. I recommend taking a look at some of his letters. Here is Van Gogh on the blank canvas:
Just slap something on it when you see a blank canvas staring at you with a sort of imbecility.
You don’t know how paralyzing it is, that stare from a blank canvas that says to the painter you can’t do anything. The canvas has an idiotic stare, and mesmerizes some painters so that they turn into idiots themselves.
Many painters are afraid of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas IS AFRAID of the truly passionate painter who dares—and who has once broken the spell of ‘you can’t.’
Life itself likewise always turns towards one an infinitely meaningless, discouraging, dispiriting blank side on which there is nothing, any more than on a blank canvas.
But however meaningless and vain, however dead life appears, the man of faith, of energy, of warmth, and who knows something, doesn’t let himself be fobbed off like that. He steps in and does something, and hangs on to that, in short, breaks, ‘violates’—they say.
Let them talk, those cold theologians.
— Vincent Van Gogh (via Paris Review here: http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2014/10/02/just-slap-something-on-it/
There is so much greatness in all that. Just slap something on it. You have to start somewhere. I like that a lot.
Anyway, on to 2016. We awoke to snow. It was neat watching my son get all giddy and put on his clothes while it was still dark. When it snows, it’s like the world is a blank canvas. You get to make fresh tracks every step you take. There is an uplifting and inspiring New Years message in there if you want to tease it out. Here’s to 2016. I hope you slap something great onto it. It’s also nice to know that most things you can paint over if they don’t work out.
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