The road less traveled

The road less traveled could be your own road.

Of course, it is not easy to follow one’s road. Getting off track is easy and thinking someone else’s way is much more attractive is tempting. The fight for authenticity is a good one and there is joy if we demand of ourselves and walk the road that only our feet were meant to tread. After all, the goal is not making art but living a life and experiencing the moments along the way. Those who live their lives will leave behind the stuff that is really art. Art is a result. It is the trace of those who have led their lives.

It is almost a laughing matter. My friend of 45 years proudly hangs one of my first paintings in her living room for everyone to see. It’s big and bold and I gasp every time I visit her. The painting is flat, the flowers and leaves are one color and the shadow is gray. Every time I see it, I say, “Let me give you another painting to hang there or let me redo this one.” Every time she answers, “No, the first time we met, I told you I loved that painting and I was shocked you gave it to me, you didn’t even know me.” My mind is saying, “And I’m shocked that I gave it to you.” In her love for me, she values our friendship and the painting represents the fragrance of yesteryear and fond memories. The word “lacking” doesn’t come into her conversation.

I made a trip to the art museum in Washington, D.C. to see a rare showing of works by Van Gogh; over two hundred pieces were on display. Some of the paintings were very crude; the colors were very limited, dark and almost morbid. I was fascinated by the rarity of the life of one such artist. The paintings tracked his journey from very painful primitive conditions to yellow sunflowers and starry nights. They all showed Van Gogh, the person, his journey and his flawed life. The paintings were arresting, haunting and they invite one in. I entered into his authentic life and the lonely road he traveled.

The amazing thing, Van Gogh didn’t hear coins jingle in his pocket, didn’t sell one painting while he was alive but sent many of his works to his brother in exchange for brushes and paints. Today, this is one of the largest collections of art still intact, primarily because they were safeguarded by his brother. History protected this amazing collection. The world wasn’t ready for him yet.

Being authentic in our art journey is a rare thing, so rare we question ourselves because we are all flawed. Consider diamonds, valuable but with flaws that can only be seen by the trained eye using a magnifying glass. There are many fake diamonds, flawless and man-made which are called cubic zirconium. Although they look like diamonds, they are much cheaper, and they have only a fraction of the value of a real diamond.

It is easy to get sidetracked from our true value. How do we find this authentic path with our name on it? The road does not have an external view but an internal vision. The map is on the inside, only the artist can read and understand it. Oh there are signs and landmarks along the way and they will resonate with the art spirit that gently leads and the compass within pointing north.

The Final Brushstroke: If you are willing to let others into your life they will see your flaws but they will also see a life lived in authenticity.

Comments from readers

“I have trouble with the idea of truth. Someone once said that ‘Truth is beauty and beauty is truth.’ What did they mean? I remember once as a graduate student sitting in a seminar class and making the statement regarding Jackson Pollock’s painting having no meaning. There followed a long discussion about the meaning of the word ‘meaning.’ Obviously, what I was looking for was some sort of literal significance that I could enunciate.”

LA, Ariz.

Quote for the Week

“A beautiful thing never gives so much pain as does failing to hear and see.” — Michelangelo.

At the Co-op

New work by Ann Sadler! A new line of jewelry is now on display at the Pagosa Artisans’ Co-op. Ann works with stones, glass, wood and metal, fashioning necklaces and earrings. Ann’s collection of beads have come from many sources such as a bead warehouse, a vintage collection from family heirlooms, even from Panama where she acquired large seeds, dyed in brilliant colors. Be sure to visit the Co-op and see her new line of jewelry.

Mark your calendar! The reception for the seventh- and eighth-grade artists is almost here. Be sure to stop by the Co-op on Sunday, April 19, at 1 p.m. The winners will be announced and prizes and ribbons will be given to the winners.

The Co-op is collecting artwork from artists in ninth through 12th grades. The deadline is April 31.

A new addition to the Pagosa Artisans’ Center is in the making. Watch for it’s opening in May 2009.


Photo courtesy Betty Slade
A new line of jewelry by Ann Sadler is now on display at the Pagosa Artisans’ Co-op. Ann works with stones, glass, wood and metal, fashioning necklaces and earrings.