Everything Right Is Wrong Again is a They Might Be Giants Song. I stole the title for my blog post because I love them and because it’s sort of true around here lately. I woke up yesterday ready to do some blogging and my new Mac decided it couldn’t connect to the Internet. I mean, it was connected to the Internet, but it refused to acknowledge it. So, I spent a few hours fixing that issue. Then, we had some big clouds move in and rain (yay!), so my satellite Internet became intermittent Internet (boo!). It was like the universe was telling me to stay off the Internet. So, I did. Sort of.
I tried to use my new Nook instead so I could download some books, but then the spotty Internet and the whole “my Nook got stuck somehow” thing made it pretty much impossible. I mean, the keyboard was all wacky, the touch screen wasn’t working, and the charge wouldn’t take. Finally, after restarting it, the Nook went back to normal. Did I mention my phone stopped working too? Oh, I could get voice mail and text messages from phone calls and texts that occurred three hours ago, but nothing current. I think we may have slipped into some kind of Vortex yesterday while I was cooking bacon and Tiny-Small was pretending she was a dog mommy. Too bad we didn’t do any time travelling. I could have used a glimpse into the future to find out if all of this bacon eating was going to do me in. On second thought, maybe it is better not to know.
So, yesterday, I did some cleaning (gasp!) and some reading, and some complaining and then I did some painting. Mostly, I just organized and stared at half-finished paintings and wondered why I felt compelled to paint 67 backgrounds and stop. Art making can be a strange, out-of-body experience at times. I have been trying to be one of those “go with the flow” let the canvas speak to me, do what comes into my mind in that moment, and be awesome, sort of painters. It’s becoming increasingly clear that directionless, let the muse work through me type painting, might not be my forté. I like a plan. I mean, I finish more things when I have a plan. Sure, accidents happen (and that’s OK, thank you Sesame St.), but I have better results when I know what I am trying to say. It all comes together better when I work within some guidelines. When my work has a point, from the beginning, I have more focus and drive. When I have at least a foggy idea of where I might end up, that is when I do my best work.
Hopefully, I made my point with all of those ridiculous sentences that say basically the same thing over and over again. I’m not sure if I am trying to convince you or me that I need structure and a plan. Probably me, because, seriously, you probably don’t really care that much, right?
Maybe this means I am a bit of a control freak. I know I don’t have much control over the rest of my life (I have a toddler), so maybe painting is where I can have the biggest impact. It’s where my voice can be the loudest. Where my message can be crystal clear. Or, maybe I like the tedious attention to details a plan requires. Maybe I will become more of a go-with-the-flow painter as time goes on. Maybe I won’t. I think, for me, the structure, the detail, the plan is what keeps me flowing. That focus gives me a break from the worries and the anxiety that comes with those worries. Without the plan in place I lose my focus. I lose the rhythm. My mind just doesn’t stay focused enough. I lose interest. I start to go a little crazy. Like now. I get that “I don’t know what to do with myself” feeling and it all starts to seem a little pointless. Like, I just painted a rainbow across too many expensive canvasses and now they are going to sit there collecting dust while I move onto something I really want to do…or I might just sit here feeling boring and like an expensive drain on my family’s budget. That’s not a good attitude to have.
Sometimes, it’s just as important to figure out what isn’t working for you as it is to figure out what is working. I think, too, that we have to be OK with who we are. Am I a controlling painter who likes the complete attention it takes to use watercolor? Yes. Do I have a streak of perfectionism running through my blood? Yes. Does a bunch of paint smeared on a canvas with no plan in mind just make me anxious or a little bored? Sometimes. I say sometimes because every time I make an all-encompassing declaration about myself I change my mind a few minutes later. Everything right is wrong again. Seriously. I’m an enigma, trapped in a vortex, rolled up in bacon. I mean, I’m a mom who doesn’t get enough sleep and can see two sides to every story and lives in a perpetual state of ambiguity. At least I keep life interesting. I also drive myself a little crazy.
So what though, right? This is who I am. This is how I paint. There isn’t any need to become something else or someone else. Sure, it’s fun to experiment and explore and try on new hats, but in the end, we’re all probably going to settle into what feels most comfortable or most exciting, or gives us the most relief from our own thought processes. I’ve written before about how painting is like meditation or visiting a therapist to me. My mind is in constant motion. I think. I think A LOT. Too much. I have so many ideas. I have a vivid imagination too, so when I really get going, I can turn a late phone call into a scene straight out of a Soap Opera: the person is in the hospital, there was a car accident, they need a brain transplant, we will have to sell the house to pay for it, we will all end up homeless, Tiny-Small will be sent to live with long-lost relatives. I can project any wacky scenario decades into the future if I allow myself to indulge in that sort of thing. Which I do often, unless I get in my time to paint.
Anyway, everything that is supposed to be right is really wrong. I am so often not what I am supposed to be, or not doing what I am supposed to be, or not behaving as I am supposed to be. Thank goodness I have painting to shut off all of those worries. When I am executing my plan and focused on tiny details I am right where I am supposed to be. At least for part of my day, I can be exactly who I am supposed to be: A painter who likes structure, a direction, an idea, and a stopping point. I get to be the boss of myself. I get to throw out the words “supposed to” and laugh as they float away on paint fumes. What a relief!
Anyway, my Internet is working. My painting has a plan. So, for today at least, I guess, everything wrong is right again. Go figure.