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Hi.

 I am an artist, writer and chronicler of small moments.  My work is created with love and infused with joy.  I'm so glad you are here!

The Piano Lesson

The Piano Lesson

"Failure in the creative life is not only a risk, a possibility to be avoided, but an eventuality to be embraced.  Worrying we might fail leads to fear and paralysis; it leads to making 'safe' decisions instead of the ones demanded by our art, our longings." ~ David DuChemin, A Beautiful Anarchy

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Three days until my first recital and I am playing my pieces for my teacher.  She sits quietly behind me, eyes closed as she listens.  As I finish each piece she offers praise, suggestions and advice.

She looks at me intently.  "Don't be discouraged if you make a mistake on Saturday," she comments.  "Everyone makes mistakes and it is okay.  Just play through the mistakes and most people won't even notice."

I am a little taken aback.  Is she telling me this because she knows from what she has heard today that I am destined to err on Saturday? I continue to listen to her critique and realize that I'm wrong;  it isn't because of my performance that she has given me this advice, but rather because during this past year she has come to know me well.  

She knows I am a perfectionist and can be very hard on myself.  It's true, I don't like to fail.

I cannot pinpoint when or how I became this way but at some point in my early years I began comparing myself to others and found myself lacking.  I cannot blame my parents or teachers; they were always supportive and encouraging.  Instead it seems as if it was a character trait born out of a sense of insecurity, of not being good enough.  I have always had a fear of failure that at times has kept me from doing what I love.

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"Nothing is perfect the first time.  Or ever." ~ David DuChemin, A Beautiful Anarchy

It's funny; I am very good at setting aside time to practice piano daily and yet I don't do the same for my art.  Perhaps it is because with my piano lessons I am being held accountable by my teacher, but I think it is also because I know I won't improve if I don't practice.  I dream of sitting down and just choosing a piece of music to play and I willingly work towards that goal.  

So why don't I do that with my art?  Is it because I am only being held accountable to myself?  It seems that everyday I am able to create a list of things that need to be done before I sit down and create.  Popeye needs a walk.  The clothes need to be folded.  The email must be answered.  It has become second nature to me to just put it off for another day.  I know that to improve as an artist I need to dedicate time to my craft, to set aside fears of failure and push the envelope.  I am always asking my piano teacher to give me challenging pieces but as soon as I feel challenged in art?  I freeze, afraid to move forward.  

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"The real failure is to rob this world of the contribution that only you can make."  David Duchemin, A Beautiful Anarchy

When I am wrestling with thoughts such as these I am often surprised by the messages I receive  from the Universe.  Last night I posted the montage above on Instagram to participate in a project circulating with the hashtag #artvsartist.  The basic idea is to find similarities between the photograph of the artist and the work he or she creates.  When I went on Instagram today I found an invitation to join The Giving Gallery, a new online gallery that supports mental health nonprofits.  It felt as if the Universe was giving me a giant nudge, an affirmation that I should not give up on my art, that I should value my work and, more importantly, value myself.

As for the recital, I am happy to report that yes, I did make a few mistakes, but you know what?  I kept calm and played on.  We all did and each of our songs sounded beautiful.  It was such a learning moment for me, to see that even the most accomplished pianists in our little group still were capable of making mistakes.  It was a lovely afternoon spent celebrating our collective love of music and fellowship and I look forward to our next recital.  

Spring Joys

Spring Joys

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